RED JACKET, W.Va. – Miner Mountain has served its purpose as the Mingo Central Miners and their fans were able to celebrate the Miners’ 13th win on Saturday night and a trip to face Fairmont Senior in the WVSSAC Class AA Championship Game.
Mingo Central punched their ticket to the Super Six on Saturday night with a 41-21 win over the James Monroe Mavericks at Mingo Central’s Buck Harless Stadium.
The Miners can contribute a lot of their success from the night to two first quarter scores that allowed them to stay ahead all game.
The Miners faced a team that had shutout undefeated Point Pleasant the week before to earn a ticket to the semifinal round.
Head coach Yogi Kinder said before the game, “We expect a good game tonight, they are a tough, and fast team. Our defense is really going to have to play hard tonight to knock them off of their game.”
The Miners’ defense did exactly that as they held the Mavericks, a very good rushing team, to only 43 yards rushing on 24 attempts. With the Mavericks’ rushing attack stopped they turned to the passing game which Mingo was less ready to compete against. The Mavericks pulled together 204 yards passing on 18 completions, averaging 11.4 yards per completion.
Despite the Mavericks’ success through the air the Miners stayed true to their bread-and-butter mix of passing and rushing. They were able to gain momentum quick and keep it nearly all night.
The tensest moment of the night was Kinder’s choice to go for it on fourth-and-34 with time running out in the first half and up only one score.
James Monroe had come within a score when QB Evan Beasley scrambled in from 8 yards to make the score 21-14 in favor of Mingo Central. Thomas Harmon set the Miners up on the 50-yard line with a good kickoff return. The Miners took the ball with 56 seconds left before the half and wound up in a fourth-and 34 situation.
Instead of taking a field goal or running out the clock, QB Jeremy Dillon launched the ball down the right sideline and connected with Tyler Grimmett who fell out of bounds with 13 seconds left.
The Miners failed to score on the drive but kept the ball away from the Mavericks and entered the second half scoring on the first possession when Joe Hunt rumbled into the end zone from 17 yards out. Once the Miners scored to open the second half they gained all the momentum and scored twice more in the game to lead the Mavericks by three scores as the time slipped away and the fireworks lit up the cold autumn night.
Mingo scored in all four quarters and scored 13 points in the first and 14 points in the third quarter. James Monroe was held scoreless in the first and fourth quarters.
The Miners kept the ball out of the hands of Beasley and the Mavericks as much as possible and finished with 510 yards on 64 total plays.
Mingo dominated the ground game with 335 yards rushing on 42 attempts with Hunt leading the way with 192 yards on 27 carries with three close range scores.
The last score of the game showcased Mingo’s drive and determination to win. It was fourth-and one on the 1-yard line with 10:25 left to play in the game and Hunt smashed his way in for the score.
Mingo was able to hold the Mavericks scoreless the rest of the game and as the time ticked away the Miners began to realize they were heading to the championship game for the first time in school history.
This year’s team has set the bar high for all Miners that will come. This year the Miners have gone undefeated, they dominated the Cardinal Conference by winning the league title, and now are heading to Wheeling Island for a chance at the Class AA state championship title.
Win or lose the Miners have cemented themselves in history this season and all those fortunate to witness will never forget the 2016 Mingo Central Miners.
This historical and record setting season is slightly dampened by the fact that Kinder announced prior to the season that he will be retiring as head coach after this season.
But what a way to depart the program.