Tucker County football continues undefeated season

Single A Spotlight - Tucker County is 8-0 this season after a win against Gilmer County
Published: Oct. 23, 2022 at 11:57 PM EDT
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PARSONS, W.Va (WDTV) - Tucker County football continued its undefeated season on Friday by defeating Gilmer County. As the season goes on, the weather begins to change as well in the mountains of Parsons.

“Snow on the trees, snow on the ground. I can’t feel my thumbs. It’s bad,” said offensive lineman Owen Knotts about the team’s practice conditions. “Coach told us today that if we say it’s cold, or we’re cold, we have to touch the post. So we were hot.”

As the team huddled to finish practice, one of the players yelled cold as loud as he could. Immediately, a whistle blew. Down to the goal post and back.

While it gets colder, the team shows no signs of cooling down.

“Honestly, I think it’s the kids mentality,” said defensive coordinator Tyler Anderson. “A lot of it is with these kids is, we’ve had it going on for the past few games is they have to get warmed up on that first drive. After they get warmed up, they have that mentality that they are the big man on the field.”

The Mountain Lions have been the big man. The national average for points per game is approximately 20. Tucker County shatters that average, putting up over 42 points per game.

“I knew everything we have done has been possible and that we were capable of it,” said wide receiver Maddox Anderson. “We just had to execute and make it happen. They put a lot of work into us this Summer, it’s been a nonstop workout. Training, speed drills. We’ve had a good 35-40 kids committing and show up to do so.”

Anderson has been ranked in the top five of receiving yards throughout the season. The passing offense has worked wonders for the Mountain Lions.

“Our receivers, in my opinion, are the best receivers that Tucker County has ever had,” said quarterback Ethan Rosenau. “They are legit for sure. All of our receivers are just studs. They make guys miss and make big plays. They’re athletic.”

Rosenau continues to lead the state in passing touchdowns. In a game against Southern (MD), Rosenau had 8 passing touchdowns and nearly 600 passing yards. Maryland has a running clock system after the second quarter compared to West Virginia’s fourth quarter rule. If able to play the entire game at full capacity, it is likely that Rosenau could have doubled that total.

But as Rosenau says, it starts with the line and the receivers making plays downfield.

“Young guys like me,” said Maddox Anderson, “Blake Adams, who have had a lot of experience out on the field. We have a lot of young talent stepping up. It’s really widening out the space that we have, and it’s allowing us a lot of options to pass the ball.”

Young players for Tucker County have shined this season. Defensive Coordinator Tyler Anderson’s side of the ball has greatly benefitted from the teams depth and effort no matter the position on the depth chart.

“They give it hard on both ends,” said Anderson. “We are a little bit deep in our depth. We can switch out if a player gets tired. We have had situations before where that player comes in and they’re giving 100 percent effort as well. He’s not pouting because he’s out. He’s not pouting because he’s sitting the bench on defense. He comes in and makes a tackle, playing 100 percent for those other 10 players out on the field.”

The ability to have a rotational team starts with two things, chemistry on the field and preparation off of it. Game film technology such as Hudl has allowed smaller schools to prepare more for games than ever before. Technology is at their fingertips. Head Coach A.J. Rapp says that players are able to watch film from home, giving them more than the typical Monday film session. The team is closer than ever because of it.

“We have a lot of team chemistry,” said Knotts. “I think that helps us out a lot. We’ve played football all together since we were young, and I think that it helps us.”

The team typically studies the game prior on Mondays. On the practice field, defensive drills regularly have players simulate offensive concepts seen from other teams.

“We get down in the classroom and we just watch film for the rest of the period,” said Rosenau when reciting the team’s shorter Monday practices that give the team time for group film study. “My reads, we watch all of those and just recognize what is going to be there that week.”

It pays off.

Tucker County football head coach A.J. Rapp
Tucker County football head coach A.J. Rapp(WDTV)

“We try to work with having them study the things that we see on film,” said head coach Rapp. “It’s good because they know when you’re talking about it in practice. They’re like, ‘Yeah I saw that too, coach.’ When they’re seeing the things that we are, it makes it that much easier.”

Success on the field starts with coaching. For coach Rapp, Tucker County football has been lifelong. He cares more about the team than anyone, and the players take note.

“It’s been my lifelong dream,” said coach Rapp when asked about his favorite part of coaching. “I grew up in Tucker County. As soon as I came out of college, my head coach was back in Tucker as an assistant. He got me into this. I’ve been here for a long time. I’ve been in this a long time. I think I remember my dad taking me to football games when I was eight years old in Parsons. It’s the same field, same everything. I’ve been there since I’ve been eight years old.”

Tucker County continues its march this week against Petersburg before closing out the season against South Harrison. The team was last ranked 7th in class A by WVSSAC.