Indians' Merica, Bowen on Class AA All-State Football First Team; Three Others Named to Second Unit

By Jeff Toquinto on December 07, 2017 via

Not long after the coaches in the Big 10 Conference announced the top football players in our region, the West Virginia State Sports Writers Association has released the 2017 Class AA All-State football team.
Although the Indians didn’t have nearly as many players on the first team of the all-state squad, the Tribe was well represented on the entire honor squad. Bridgeport did land a pair of first teamers to the unit in senior John Merica and junior Jake Bowen. BHS also had four members on the second team.
Merica was chosen for his play in the secondary. Along with handling the offensive duties of quarterback, Merica excelled as a defensive back for the Indians.
“John had a really good senior year,” said BHS Coach John Cole. “He prepared himself he could in the weight room and provided quiet leadership for us.”
By season’s end, Merica was the Tribe’s leading tackler. He paced the team with 59 stops this year. He also had two interceptions and a team-high seven pass breakups.
“On defense, John was the leader of the defensive backfield. The whole key with defense is getting line up properly and he was able to do that,” said Cole. “He was able to do that and come up from his safety position and provide run support. He was very valuable back there.”
Bowen was recognized on the offensive side of the ball. And for anyone paying attention, they know the two-way starter (he played linebacker on defense) posted some amazing numbers from his running back position.
“Jake was pretty impressive and that was a kid who got pretty strong numbers playing both ways. Last year, he didn’t play defense hardly at all and we counted on him there, too,” said Cole. “Offensively, it was a pleasure to see him succeed because he worked hard in practice and took advantage of the linemen that he had.”
Through 13 games, Bowen finished with 1,916 yards on 222 carries for an impressive average of 8.6 yards per run and 26 touchdowns. More impressive, he did a lot of that without carrying the ball in the second half of several Bridgeport blowouts.
“What he was able to do on offense took the pressure of us needing to run John as much at quarterback because when you run your quarterback a lot you run the risk of someone getting hurt,” said Cole. “You look at Keyser with (Brady) Ours who was just fantastic, but got banged up a bit because he ran so much. Jake allowed us to limit the changes for John to get hurt.”
Bridgeport got three players on the second team. One offensive player, one defensive player and one special teams player made that unit.
Senior offensive lineman Jimmy Allison, who began starting late his sophomore season, turned in a banner year. His efforts up front helped Bridgeport rush for 3,855 yards this year or just under 300 yards per game with an average of 296.5 yards per contest. The club also averaged 6.4 yards a carry.
Despite missing four games with a broken hand, senior defensive end Chapin Murphy did more than enough to impress coaches and members of the media who voted. Murphy was a first-team selection this year and may have ended up there had he not missed four games. He still managed to finish with 31 tackles and a team leading 5.5 sacks and tackles for loss.
Another first teamer last year made second team this year. Senior kicker and punter Koby Kiefer was the club’s third leading scorer with 59 points. He was 53-of-57 on extra points and 2-for-8 on field goal attempts this season. Kiefer also averaged 42.5 yards per punt on 27 punts, including seven inside the 20.
Bridgeport also had several players on the special honorable mention and honorable mention lists. Seniors John Thomas and Josh Osborn made special honorable mention, while seniors Noah Drummond and Christian Olivio and sophomore Trey Pancake earned honorable mention recognition.
Several other student-athletes from Harrison County also made first or second team. Among those chosen include first teamers Ghovan Davidson (running back) from Robert C. Byrd; Dalton Westfall (offensive utility) from Liberty; and Broderick Lantz (defensive utility) from Liberty. Second team selections include Robert Arnold (offensive line) from Robert C. Byrd and Kobie Carpenter (offensive utility) from Lincoln.
Here is the complete list of the Class AA All-State Football Team as selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association:
First team
QB – Jeremy Dillon, Mingo Central, Sr.
RB – Mookie Collier, Bluefield, Sr. (captain)
RB – Jake Bowen, Bridgeport, Jr.
RB – Ghovan Davidson, Robert C. Byrd, Jr.
OL – Dalton Fields, Mingo Central, Sr.
OL – Grant Dickson, Winfield, Sr.
OL – Zach Frazier, Fairmont Senior, So.
OL – Nathan Pettus, Bluefield, Jr.
OL – Mason Sipes, Berkeley Springs, Sr.
WR – Drew Hatfield, Mingo Central, So.
WR – Tayton Stout, Braxton County, Sr.
UTIL – Andrew Huff, Winfield, Sr.
UTIL – Dylan Smith, Chapmanville, Sr.
UTIL – Dalton Westfall, Liberty-Harrison, Sr.
K – George Triplett, Elkins, Sr.
DL – Dante Stills, Fairmont Senior, Sr. (captain)
DL – Tyler Komorowski, Weir, Jr.
DL – Ryan Burdette, Clay County, Sr.
LB – Hunter Mason, Philip Barbour, Sr.
LB – Mike Bartram, Wayne, Jr.
LB – Truck Edwards, Bluefield, Sr.
LB – Grant Mohler, James Monroe, Sr.
DB – Monroe Mohler, James Monroe, So.
DB – John Merica, Bridgeport, Sr.
DB – Isaac Workman, Clay County, Sr.
DB – Brady Ours, Keyser, Sr.
UTIL – Cason Payne, Point Pleasant, Jr.
UTIL – Bryson Gilbert, Fairmont Senior, Sr.
UTIL – Broderick Lantz, Liberty-Harrison, Sr.
UTIL/P – Reed Reitter, Weir, Jr.
Second team
QB – Connor Neal, Fairmont Senior, Jr. (captain)
RB – Dawson Elia, Mingo Central, Sr.
RB – Evan Rose, PikeView, Jr.
RB – Justin Brumfield, Point Pleasant, Sr.
OL – Jimmy Allison, Bridgeport, Sr.
OL – Maven Meadows, Poca, Sr.
OL – Robert Arnold, Robert C. Byrd, Jr.
OL – Deiyantei Powell-Woods, Bluefield, Jr.
OL – Alex Gibbs, Point Pleasant, Sr.
WR – C.J. Ryan, Berkeley Springs, Sr.
WR – Kenneth Stahl, North Marion, Sr.
UTIL – Jacob Hartman, Petersburg, Jr.
UTIL – Will Hackney, Sissonville, Jr.
UTIL – Kobie Carpenter, Lincoln, Sr.
K/P – Koby Kiefer, Bridgeport, Sr.
DL – Zach Payne, Nicholas County, Sr.
DL – Chapin Murphy, Bridgeport, Sr.
DL – Hunter Edgell, North Marion, Sr.
DL – Adam Daniel, Independence, Sr.
LB – Hunter Thomas, Sissonville, Sr. (captain)
LB – Seth Arnold, Braxton County, Sr.
LB – Tucker Mayes, Point Pleasant, Sr.
LB – Doug Morral, Petersburg, Jr.
DB – Grayson Pratt, Wayne, Sr.
DB – Nick Reip, Nitro, Sr.
DB – Connor Moore, James Monroe, Sr.
UTIL – Chase Collier, Philip Barbour, Jr.
UTIL – Josh Wamsley, Point Pleasant, Jr.
UTIL – Justin Stover, Herbert Hoover, Sr.
K/P – Cory Booth, James Monroe, Sr.
Special Honorable Mention
Terymykal Alexander, Shady Spring; Khori Bass, Oak Hill; Erick Bevil, Shady Spring; Caleb Bish, Grafton; Zach Bratton, Winfield; Jake Cannady, Wyoming East; Austin Conaway, North Marion; Andrew Deal, Nicholas County; Bubba Ellis, Lincoln; Chucky Felder, Logan; Brian Fisher, Winfield; Julius Gaddy, Bluefield; Addison Hayes, Oak Hill; Jacob Huff, Winfield; Kaleb Hurley, Mingo Central; Malcom Johnson, Robert C. Byrd; Tre Junkins, Robert C. Byrd; Ben Kee, Herbert Hoover; Jaden Kuroski, East Fairmont; Jonathan Leep, Lincoln; Tyler Mack, Weir; Dalton Malcomb, North Marion; Jaden Marino, Robert C. Byrd; Arnold Martin, Bluefield; Devon Matzdorff, Wayne; Carson McComas, Scott; Jakob McCord, Philip Barbour; Trey Milam, Nicholas County; Jeremiah Milium, Wayne; Hunter Moore, Lincoln; Bradley Mullins, River View; Drake Mullins, Bluefield; Alex Oates, Keyser; Jacob O'Dell, Nicholas County; Josh Osborn, Bridgeport; Antonio Parsons, Fairmont Senior; Ethan Payne, Poca;  Kaulin Parris, Bluefield; Ben Price, Westside; Reggie Redman, Keyser; Jeremiah Reed, Liberty Harrison; Josh Reed, Mingo Central; Daniel Romans, Elkins; Jaden Rollyson, Liberty Harrison; Ben Scott, Roane County; Zach Shreve, Elkins; Peyton Sindledecker, Petersburg; Bronson Skeens, Poca; Alec Smith, Point Pleasant; Sebastian Spencer, Weir; John Thomas, Bridgeport; Caleb Walker, Fairmont Senior; Chase Warden, Mingo Central; Jacob White, Lewis County; Caleb Whittington, Sissonville; Tobin Whittington, Berkeley Springs; Evan Willis, Chapmanville.
Honorable Mention
Johnny Adkins, Wayne; Nick Albright, Man; Timmy Bigley, Chapmanville; Dawson Blankenship, Nicholas County; Jaron Bragg, Shady Spring; Tyler Bragg, Shady Spring;; Channing Carr, James Monroe; Ben Clark, Winfield; Heath Cottrill, Braxton County; Trevor Clayton, Grafton; Jay Cook, Poca; Mathias Cook, Oak Glen; Travis Cook, Westside; Chandler Cooper, Bluefield; John Covert, Winfield; Troy Cowart, Logan; Zach Curry, Mingo Central; Cameron Dillon, Liberty Raleigh; Noah Dillon, James Monroe; Noah Drummond, Bridgeport; Grant Elliott, North Marion; Zach Ferrebee, Clay County; Desmond Fluharty, North Marion; Hunter Gainer, Philip Barbour; Conner Gibson, Independence; Jared Griffith, Lewis County; Alex Grose, Clay County; Jordan Gump, Lincoln; Jon Hamilton, Scott; Trad Harman, Petersburg; Jonathan Hatcher, River View; Frank Ty Hudacheck, Weir; Josh Huffman, Roane County; Dylan Kincell, East Fairmont; Cameron Kollo, Philip Barbour; Nate Kowalski, Fairmont Senior; McKeyin Kile, Petersburg; Trey Lester, Mingo Central; Carter Lyles, Scott; Xavier Lopez, Robert C. Byrd; Nick Marley, Frankfort; Brandon May, Roane County; Jonah Mathis, Wayne; Shauntez Matthews, Logan; Eddie Mayes, Point Pleasant; Ryan Metzgar, Lewis County; Owen McClanahan, Poca; Matt McCoy, Philip Barbour; Matt McKinney, Independence; Seth McKinney, Liberty; AJ Milam, Liberty Raleigh; Hunter Mitchelson, PikeView; Brock Muncy, Man; Bryce Nelson, Westside; Ricky Newbrough, North Marion; Nick Nutter, Nicholas County; Christian Olivio, Bridgeport; Seth Osborne, Man; Tanner Owens, Wayne; Trey Pancake, Bridgeport; Dylan Pettit, Grafton; Nick Perry, Wayne; Michael Pinkerton, Sissonville; Jay Poindexter, Nitro; Dalton Pollock, Frankfort; Jared Price, Scott; Mason Rice, Weir; Seth Ross, Wyoming East; Jared Sagraves, Nicholas County; Shane Saylor, Fairmont Senior; Ryan Shoemaker, Keyser; Aiden Slusser, East Fairmont; Garrett Smyton, Elkins; Zach Spencer, Herbert Hoover; Thomas Talkington, Elkins; Ethan Travis, Oak Glen; Nick Vance, Winfield; Jackson VanScoy, Winfield; Garrett Ware, Grafton; Rhett White, Herbert Hoover; Steven White, Keyser; Seth Whitt, Chapmanville; Collin Williams, Oak Glen; Casey Wood, Oak Hill, Don Woodworth, Keyser; Justin Barker, Mingo Central.
Editor's Note: Top photo of John Merica and bottom photo of Jake Bowen by Ben Queen of

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