West Virginia High School Football Champions
A Brief History

The West Virginia Sports Writer Association named state football champions from 1937 to 1946.  

1937 Hinton(7-0-1) 1938 Parkersburg(11-0)   1939 Charleston(9-0-3) 1940 Parkersburg(12-0)
1941 Mullens(9-0)  1942 Weir(6-3-1) 1943 Parkersburg(9-0) 1944 Williamson(8-1)
1945 South Charleston(11-0) 1946 Fairmont Sr.(9-0-1)

In 1946 William Fugitt of Beckley was selected as the first full time executive secretary of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activity Commission.  The WVSSAC in conjunction with the West Virginia Sports Writer Association and the Beckley Post Herald named the 1947 champions with the help of a rating system.  Class A came down to two Thanksgiving games, Woodrow Wilson at Hinton both 9-0 and Stonewall Jackson also 9-0 vs. Charleston.  The Flying Eagles and Generals both won and were declared Co-Champions.  Webster Springs nudged out  Ansted for the Class B Championship.  Both Class B schools were 9-0 in class games and Ansted also tied Montgomery a Class A school.  In 1948, Woodrow Wilson was declared the champion because their rating was much higher than Triadelphia, Morgantown and Stonewall Jackson who were also undefeated.  In Class B Vinson(9-1) beat Alderson(8-2) in a playoff game.  The losses by both schools were against Class A schools.  The following Class B schools were also undefeated in Class B games: Sistersville(7-3), Ravenswood(6-3), Matewan(6-3), Iaeger(5-1-1), Barrickville(4-2-1), Ridgeley(4-3-1)(the ties for the final 3 teams were to Class B teams). For the 1949 season the WVSSAC took over full control of the playoff system.  There were two things that really mattered, being undefeated and games in your own class, especially for the Class B teams.  The schools were divided into 3 classes in 1955 and the stipulation was added that you had to play 5 games in your class or above.  This rule eliminated some teams for a few years until they adjusted their schedules.  The idea of considering only the undefeated teams was eliminated in 1958 and the values for victories were differentiated between classes.  Finally the concept of losses against higher class teams not counting was eliminated in 1965.  The rating system has not changed since 1965, however the number of team in the playoffs has increased to 4 in 1972, 8 in 1978 and finally 16 in 1991.  The rating system and 16 team playoff has proved to be a great addition to high school sports in West Virginia.  There have been major upsets as both a #16 and a #15 have won a championship.  The following links will take you to the scores of all playoff games held in West Virginia, along with rankings and regular season records

Class A      Class AA      Class AAA

However we did not get this successful system without some problems and controversies. The first problem arose in 1950 when a player's eligibility was questioned hours before the Class A championship game between Parkersburg(10-0) and Oak Hill(10-0).  Oak Hill had used an overage player during the season. Shinnston High School(10-0) protested, however the game went on and Parkersburg won in a blowout. The 1950 Class B game was cancelled because of the Thanksgiving Blizzard. In 1951 a game between Woodrow Wilson and Parkersburg was cancelled due to a snow storm.  Gary High School protested the cancellation, however before any action could take place, the third undefeated Class A team, Stonewall Jackson, was upset thus putting Gary in the championship vs. Woodrow Wilson.  In 55 and 56 there was only one undefeated team in the largest class and no championship game was played.  St. Albans(10-0) in 1955 and Grafton(9-0-1) in 1956 were declared champions.  Weir and Big Creek were both undefeated in 1955 but both did not play 5 games in Class AA.  This was the first year of 3 classes and several schools were ruled ineligible because they played less than 5 game in their own class.  Several longstanding rivalries were eventually effected by the new classifications.  That takes us to 1957 and the big controversy plus a another little one.  In Class B, Rupert gained a spot in the playoffs instead of Winfield because of the following rule, "an undefeated school in any class having elected to use its entire schedule, including schools of higher classification, shall not have to accept points from one(only) that it tied or defeated if that acceptance would lower its rating points established with our inclusion of that one game."   Big Creek High School of War created a great controversy by taking the WVSSAC to court to stop the Class AA championship game between Weir and Fairmont Sr. Big Creek had only lost one game over a three year period and had a somewhat valid claim in their lawsuit, which was filed by Homer Hickam, Sr of Coalwood(father of future Rocket Boy and best selling author Homer "Sunny" Hickam, Jr) on behalf of the Big Creek players.  The lawsuit claimed that Weir did not play the necessary 5 Class AA games.  The game in question was Martins Ferry High School of Ohio.  West Virginia schools are classified every two years based on first month enrollment.  The last classification count in WV was in September 1955(to cover the 56 & 57 football seasons) and at that time Martins Ferry was above the 250 boy minimum for Class AA, however in September 1956 Martins Ferry had dropped to 247 boys in the top three grades.  This was the basis for the Big Creek claim that Weir did not meet the 5 game minimum.  The courts agreed with the WVSSAC  and the championship game was played as scheduled.  As a result of their actions against the WVSSAC, Big Creek High School was prohibited from engaging in any athletic events for the 1957-58 school year.   Harrisville and Nuttall of Lookout were undefeated in Class A in 1957 but were ineligible because they did not play 5 Class A games.  The undefeated rule and the point system were changed for the next football season, however losses to higher class schools still did not count against the bottom two classes.  Buckhannon-Upshur was declared the Class AAA champion in 1963 because Charleston and Welch were tied for second and there were no rules to break the tie.  Meadow Bridge and Rivesville (both 10-0) were eliminated in 1975 for the same reason. The final major problems came in 63 and 64 when the Class AA and Class A championships were played by teams ranked #1 and #3 in the final rankings.  In 1963, Class AA Williamson was originally #3 in the rankings but moved up to #2 a day before the championship game when Dawson-Bryant High School of Ohio had to forfeit its entire season because of an overage player.  Williamson(5-5 although the Wolfpack were 5-0 vs Class AA teams) did not protest the championship game between Ceredo-Kenova and Hinton.  In 1964, Class A, Hamlin(3-7) finished #2 and was eliminated by the WVSSAC Board of Appeals.  Hamlin dropped to Class A in 1964, however they played 9 Class AA teams and one Class A team.  Since losses against higher classified teams do not count Hamlin's record was 3-0 in the rating system.  These two situations prompted the WVSSAC to eliminate this rule in question for the 1965 season.  Sistersville lost to 4 Class AA schools during the season and trounced an undefeated Fairview team in the championship game. Once this final adjustment was made to the rating system, the issue of limiting the playoffs to two teams in each class became the topic of discussion around the state of West Virginia.  There were years when one class had 4 undefeated teams and another class had none.  Scheduling became an issue, a strong one could boost a school to the top of the ratings, or inflict a loss or two which meant elimination.  A weak schedule could doom you to a 4th place finish even with an unblemished record.  Nicholas County went 9-0 in 1961 playing a schedule of teams that were geographically close to them.  The Grizzlies finished a distant 6th in the Class AAA rankings.  Another example of weak schedules takes place in 1970 & 1971. Monongah the defending two time Class A champion, along with Williamstown and Winfield moved up to Class AA and all finished 10-0 and out of the playoff because of their weak schedules.  Stratton High School(a segregated Class AA school in Beckley) was 10-0 in 1961 and 1962.  Their schedule was very weak since most of the other segregated schools in the area were in Class A.  Starting in 1979 all 3 championships are played at the same location.  About the only problems that arise today are the approval of a home field for a first round playoff game.  The AAA playoffs in 2010 again brought controversy and the court system into the decision making process.  The South Charleston-Hurricane 2nd round game ended 14 seconds early with a fight.  As a result of that fight, 5 South Charleston and 4 Hurricane players were disqualified after the game was declared over.  Thus the 5 South Charleston players were to sit out the next playoff game vs. Brooke.  The parents of four of those players took the matter to Kanawha County court and an injuction was granted to over rule the suspensions.  South Charleston won the game 29-28.  A Brooke County court issued an injuction barring the state championship game from being played until the matter was resolved.  This matter was decided by the WV Supreme Court which ruled that the WVSSAC had the final say in the matter and that the Kanawha County judge has overstepped her authority.  The WVSSAC declared Brooke the winner of the semifinal game by forfied since South Charleston used 4 ineligible players.  The AAA championship game was played a week later than normal with Martinsburg winning its first football state crown.

According to Doug Huff's "Sports in West Virginia" the following schools were champions by Popular Acclaim from 1916 to 1936

1916 Wheeling(8-0-1)  1917 Huntington(5-0)
1918 Parkersburg(2-1), Buckhannon 1919 Parkersburg(7-1)
1920 Charleston(8-0-1) 1921 Parkersburg(9-0)
1922 Charleston(9-1-2), Parkersburg(9-2),
Washington Irving(8-1), St. Marys(9-1),
Wheeling(5-2-1), Huntington(4-4-1), Mannington(9-0)
1923 Huntington
1924 Buckhannon(8-0), Fairmont Sr(8-0-1),
1925 Victory(8-0),Wheeling(8-1-1)
1926 Benwood Union(8-1), Williamson(11-0),
Magnolia(9-0), Washington Irving(8-0-1)
1927 Morgantown(9-0), Parkersburg(10-0)
1928 Benwood Union(8-0), Elkins(9-0),
1929 Fairmont Sr(8-0), Roosevelt-Wilson(8-0)
1930 Huntington 1931 Benwood Union(9-0)
1932 Big Creek(9-0) 1933 Charleston(13-1)
1934 Huntington(10-0), Big Creek(9-0) 1935 Weir(10-0), Victory(9-0)
1936 Doddridge Co(10-0)

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