Everyone remembers the 1999 Wyoming East team that went 14-0 and won the Class AA state title in its second year of existence.
I certainly do.
With a lot of people predicting a potential postseason position possible for the Warriors, I decided to take a look back at the playoff appearances for both Wyoming East and Westside.
I can't remember covering a better Class AA team than that 1999 Warriors bunch, and a majority of my career was spent covering the AA schools. Maybe an East Bank championship squad in the 1980s. Maybe a Bluefield team, they've had that Wheeling feeling so often in the last 25 years with 11 appearances on the Island.
I've often said, and I stand by it, that the 1999 James Monroe team that lost to Wyoming East in a 2-3 matchup (Bluefield was the No. 1 team that year) at Beckley, was the second-best AA team I saw.
Wyoming East won that game 31-24, which would be the closest anyone would come to the Warriors. I've long maintained the last two decades it was the best high school game I've ever covered.
It was a classic, won when quarterback Robert Gunter scored on a quarterback bootleg.
Nobody saw it coming as he raced toward the pylon and infamy. Why would they expect it? Gunter had the services of three 1,000-yard rushers in Tank Tunstalle, Michael Hill and Justin Grogg in the backfield.
The story goes that coach Kevin Grogg thought his team was going to lose until Gunter ran to the sideline and said, "Don't worry coach, we've got this."
They certainly did.
James Monroe had fought back by using all-state running back Ben Thornton as a wildcat QB before there was a wildcat quarterback.
The next week, led by a defense anchored by the late Ashley McNeely (20 tackles in the title game), one of the truest characters I covered in my career, Wyoming East torched Bluefield 57-21.
Wyoming East outscored playoff opponents 204-70.
Another quick one from those playoffs. Sherman and Wyoming East had an altercation - rather, the Sherman band and Wyoming East had an altercation - in their regular season matchup.
During the Warriors playoff opener, a 40-13 win over South Harrison, some Sherman players, who had made the playoffs and won their opener 47-20 over Chapmanville, were at the game in Beckley.
They stood by the fence as Wyoming East came off the field and were explicit in what they were going to do to the Warriors the next week.
Coach Kevin Grogg made no bones about what he intended to do.
He was a man of his word, as Wyoming East opened it up, scoring on 11 straight offensive possessions in a 76-12 victory. It wasn't really that close. Wyoming East actually won its first six playoff games in school history before what still may be the toughest loss they've endured, falling in the Class AA semifinals to Wayne 14-13 in double overtime. Many point to a 15-11 victory over Magnolia the week before as the last Warriors playoff victory, but the Warriors actually won their first round game in 2001, a 6-0 verdict over Independence, the game's lone score by Tank Tunstalle, by then a senior.
Ironically, Grogg will now coach against Wyoming East as an assistant at Independence.
That was the last playoff win by the Warriors, who now have a 7-8 all-time record and they have lost seven straight.
Consider this: In those seven playoff losses, Wyoming East has scored 57 points, the same total they scored in the state championship victory over Bluefield 20 years ago.
In its 21 seasons, the Warriors have made the playoffs in nine seasons and have not gone more than four years between appearances, something they have done twice (2002-2005 and 2015-2018).
Westside also made its first playoff appearance in its second year, 2003, and they went 2-1, beating Liberty 28-0 and Wayne 24-16 before falling to Bluefield 35-8.
One of the better players to suit up in the county not named Curt Warner, Justin Cogar, led the Renegades back to the semifinals in 2014.
Cogar was a guy who could do it all as a quarterback, throwing for 2,000 yards and nearly rushing for 2,000 yards that season. You just don't see many numbers like that by a player who doesn't win the Kennedy Award.
The knock on Cogar was a weak schedule, yet nobody else was putting up those numbers against similar competition. I've always felt, much to the chagrin of many coaches, that Cogar could have done that on any level. Of course a Martinsburg faces tougher competition, they also do it with a better group surrounding the QB.
Westside faced offensive juggernaut in Weir in round one in 2014, and a lot of pundits thought the Red Riders would come to the Burial Ground and knock off Westside.
And Cogar was the star, putting up 595 total yards (403 passing, with three and 193 rushing) with five scores. That's right, he was responsible for eight touchdowns.
The next week, many thought Ravenswood would derail the Renegades and their standout quarterback. Credit the Red Devils. They held Cogar under 400 yards passing (359) and under 193 rushing (126).
Leading 20-19 at the half, Cogar led the Renegades to three second half TD, including one on fourth and goal where it looked like he was stopped on a run, but he backed up and with a Weir player hanging on to him, he fired to Bryce Robinson for a touchdown.
Robinson had two interceptions in that game as well.
The Westside train was finally derailed by Bluefield the next week, and those pundits finally had their day.
The Renegades own four playoff wins courtesy of those two semifinal runs.
All-time Westside is 4-6, with six playoff seasons in its 17 seasons.
The Warriors and Renegades have both made the playoffs the same season once, 2014.
Since Westside opened in 2002, either the Warriors or Renegades have been in the playoffs all but seven seasons. Neither made it in 2002, 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2016-2018.
Email Independent Herald reporter Dave Morrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.