Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

November 30, 2013

Column: 'Elite 11' to be honored Tuesday

— There was nothing unlucky about 13 on the high school football fields this season.

Nope, the recipients in the 13th season of the Pocahontas Coal Associ-ation / Blue-field Daily Telegraph Player of the Week Award were just as strong as they were the previous 12 years.

Eleven individuals from 10 different schools will gather at the Princeton Elks Lodge on Tuesday for the Player of the Year banquet, in which the winners are recognized, and a player and coach of the year are announced.

At least one member of the “Elite Eleven” this season won’t be able to attend. Giles junior tailback Brett Whitlow will be preparing for the Spartans’ Group 2A state semifinal contest slated for Saturday with Riverheads.

As is usually the case, choosing one player each week proved to be a daunting task, and numerous other local athletes could have also been honored, but one winner per week is the task for the Daily Telegraph sports department.

Six Virginia schools and five West Virginia schools are listed among the weekly winners, including two — Tahj Sho-Johnson and Jay Palmer — from Princeton. R.J. Bourne (Bluefield), Hunter Moses (PikeView) and LaQuell Martin (Mount View) are also representing the Mountain State.

As for Virginia, the winners included Whitlow (Giles), Charlie Benfield (Graham), Nick Blankenship (Tazewell), River Michaels (Richlands), Rodney Perdue (Narrows) and Dillion Bailey (Hurley).

Here is a quick look at the credentials for each week for the honorees.

• R.J. Bourne, Bluefield. Completed 11-of-14 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns in 60-38 win over Graham.

• Tahj Sho-Johnson, Princeton: Ran for 199 yards and two touchdowns, and picked off a pass in 32-29 win over Bluefield.

• Rodney Perdue, Narrows: Ran for 233 yards on 15 carries, scoring three touchdowns in 38-14 win over Montcalm.

• LaQuell Martin, Mount View: Ran for 273 yards and two scores, caught a pass and broke up two more in 23-8 win over Liberty.

• Hunter Moses, PikeView: Moses had 313-all-purpose yards, three touchdowns in 23-12 win over Shady Spring.

• Dillion Bailey, Hurley: Had 234 yards on just 11 carries and three touchdowns in 54-14 win over Thomas Walker.

• Brett Whitlow, Giles: Scored 41 points, running for 303 yards and six touchdowns and kicked five extra points in 49-14 win over Auburn.

• Jay Palmer, Princeton: Ran for 253 yards and three touchdowns on just seven carries in 49-10 rout of Riverside.

• Nick Blankenship, Tazewell: Scored four touchdowns in three different ways and had 11 tackles in 47-8 rout of Grundy.

• Charlie Benfield, Graham: Benfield had 77-yard touchdown run, nine tackles, key interception in 19-14 win over Fort Chiswell.

• River Michaels, Richlands: Completed 8-of-9 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns in 56-6 victory against Grundy.

There were plenty of others that didn’t win this year, but were deserving, including D.J. Stewart, D.J. Edwards (Bluefield), Dylan Cook, Hunter Cook (Graham), Colton Staten, Ben Brown (Richlands), Malik Davis (Tazewell), Jordan Wilson (River View), Brian Mann (Giles), Trey Smith (Grundy), Jeffrey Bowen (Haysi), Casey Dye (Honaker), Isaiah Brown, T.J. Smith (Summers County) and the list goes on and on.

One player will be added to a prestigious list of names who have won the previous 12 player of the year awards. Ahmad Bradshaw (Graham) and Devon Johnson (Richlands) are the only two-time winners. The others include Jake Lilly, Will Cole and Rusty Coeburn from Bluefield, the Graham duo of Robert Henry and H.T. Mathews, along with Justin McCracken (Richlands), Taylor Robertson (James Monroe) and Ian Mann of Giles, who won the award in 2012.

A top coach will also be chosen for a sixth straight year, with the previous five winners including  Greg Mance (Richlands), Jeff Damewood (PikeView), Bobby Wyatt (Tazewell), Mitch Estep (River View) and Honaker’s Doug Hubbard, who claimed top honors last season.

Candidates this season include Fred Simon (Bluefield), Jeff Williams (Giles), Randy Peek (Princeton), James Colley (Haysi), Mance (Richlands) and Nathan Tanner (Summers County).

Both Giles and Haysi still have state championship hopes.

The rest of the area teams are finished. Stay tuned for 2014.

In addition to all-state, region, conference and district teams to be released in the next few weeks, look for the All-Four Seasons Country football team, which has become a Christmas day tradition for the Daily Telegraph.  

Don’t forget basketball either. The 2013-14 BDTBounce publication will be published on Thursday, Dec. 12. The BDTBounce website should be in use by then as well.

One season ends, another begins


Brian Woodson is the sports editor for the Daily Telegraph. He encourages feedback at

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