NITRO (AP) — Josh Culbertson’s ascension to the pinnacle of West Virginia high school football was progressive, if not simple.

His rushing yardage and touchdowns increased steadily, after finishing his freshman season with 5 yards on one carry.

It’s all chronicled in a list of personal and team goals Culbertson keeps in his bedroom of his Nitro home.

One of those on the list was winning the Kennedy Award, presented to the state’s top football player as voted on by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

In hindsight, that one appeared the most logical. After all, the 5-foot-9, 192-pound senior ran away with the award — receiving all but one first-place vote in one of the more-lopsided results in recent history.

“I imagine it’s been a while since it’s been that wide of a margin,” said his coach, Scott Tinsley.


Doug Huff, the WVSWA secretary-treasurer for 25 years, said, “That’s as close as you’re going to get” to a unanimous vote, and that he doesn’t remember there being a unanimous result during the past quarter-century.

Teammate and Nitro wide receiver Chris Fulmer — who set the national career receptions record — finished second. Herbert Hoover running back D.J. Taylor finished third and Magnolia quarterback Josh Sims — who received the only other first-place vote — was fourth.

Linebacker-fullback Cory Jackson of University and defensive back-tailback Marcus Manns of Woodrow Wilson were tied for fifth in the voting and linebacker-fullback Maxwell Anderson of Morgantown was sixth.

“I’ve been talking with coach and pretty much all along people have been saying I was going to win it,” said Culbertson, whose Wildcats fell short of the Class AAA state title in a 27-24 overtime loss to Morgantown earlier this month. “I didn’t expect the margin to be that wide.”

Culbertson broke six regular-season and career state records.

His 7,842 career yards set an all-time rushing record — including playoffs — in West Virginia. His 2,744 rushing yards in 10 games during his senior season are the most in the regular season by a state running back. His 3,587 yards in a season, including playoffs, is a record as well.

Also, he averaged 274.4 yards per game during his senior season, breaking the state’s average-yards-per-game record held by South Charleston’s Robert Alexander, who averaged 241.9 yards through nine games in 1976.

Other records Culbertson set were points in a career with 714 — he had 290 as a senior — and touchdowns in a career with 118. He had 48 TDs this season.

The rest of his astounding numbers aren’t records, but mind-boggling nonetheless.

He averaged 8.6 yards per carry for his career, starting with that one carry for 5 yards as a freshman. He averaged 10.2 yards per carry as a senior.

“He’s the best I’ve seen,” Tinsley said. “Not just the best this year, but the best I’ve seen.

“I didn’t get to watch (Pineville’s) Curt Warner as a high school player, but I’ve seen a lot of the other good ones. It’s just so rare you run across a kid like Josh. Every time he touched the ball you expect him to score. When he didn’t score, you asked, ’What happened?’ “

Culbertson has yet to receive a scholarship offer from a Division I-A or I-AA school, although Division II University of Charleston has made an offer to him and his twin brother, Jon, a linebacker-fullback.

Josh Culbertson is leaning toward accepting the Kennedy scholarship and walking on to the football team at West Virginia University, although Rutgers, Illinois, Ohio State and Ohio University have requested videotape on the senior.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty interested in (going to WVU),” Culbertson said. “WVU has always been the place I wanted to go. I want to decide where I’m going before February.”

Culbertson will receive the Kennedy Award during the Victory Awards Dinner in May.

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