BLUEFIELD — The Bluefield Beavers football team is off to compete in their third consecutive state championship game tonight in Wheeling.
Amidst nerves and excitement the team, school, and community are ever-present of the driving force behind their continual hard work. In honor of Lil. Tony Webster, the Bluefield football player who suddenly passed away earlier this year, the team is dedicating this game to his memory.
Throughout the school hallways, hand made signs commemorating Webster show the student’s lasting love for their lost peer.
In the player’s locker room area, a handmade sign labels the team’s five-step plan to win the championship. This sign includes the steps to beat challenging team rivals, with the fifth and final step being “Bring home that ring.”
Regarding what it means to be going to the state game for the third year in a row, quarterback Carson Deeb, “It means everything. It’s great to be able to go back and hopefully, we’ll get it done again.”
Now in his third year at Bluefield High School, every year of Deeb’s high school career has involved the state championship game. After winning the state championship in 2017 then losing in 2018, the team is striving to bring home the win this year.
Remembering Webster, Deeb both celebrates his life and mourns his loss. Not only was he a close friend, peer, and teammate, but he was also an inspiration for hard work.
“He was like a brother to me. I’m just glad to be able to play for him and hopefully we’ll win,” Deeb said.
One beaver supporter gives an interesting insight into the team and the school. Bluefield High School Social Studies teacher, Justin Lightfoot, has spent time as both a student and a teacher within Bluefield’s walls.
“It’s important for the community and the kids. These kids have worked really hard. In the classroom, you see that a lot. The kids come in after a late night of practice and they’re tired. They’ve worked their tails off and they’ve earned it,” Lightfoot said.
After graduating from Bluefield High School in 2014, Lightfoot set off for college and started his path to education. Having come back to his alumni to teach the students that are in the same seats he sat in not so long ago, Lightfoot sees the dedication that the players have.
“This is the third year they’ll be going to the championships. If you look at kids that are juniors now this is all they know. I think it sets a really good standard for the football program going forward,” Lightfoot said.
Having served as Bluefield’s football coach for 30 plus years, Fred Simon is eager to coach his players through another state championship game.
“It’s great. We’re very humbled. We feel very fortunate and we love going. You never know how many times you get to go and we’re glad we’re going again,” Simon said.
As the buses pulled out of the parking lot to head toward Wheeling the players were cheered on by peers, teachers, and their parents. Hundreds of balloons were released to both cheer on the Beavers and remember Webster.
— Contact Emily D. Coppola at email@example.com