Delayed West Virginia championship game gets date, new team

Last week Prep Rally reported on the bizarre legal hangup delaying the West Virginia Class AAA football championship game. That wait for the game is finally over, and Martinsburg (W. Va.) High finally knows who it will be playing. The trick is that its opponent now is not the team it focused on last week.

On Tuesday, the West Virginia State Supreme Court sided in favor of Brooke (W. Va.) High in its appeal of the ruling by Kanawha County Judge Carrie Webster, who issued a pair of rulings which allowed four players who had been involved in a fight during South Charleston (W. Va.) High's quarterfinal victory to play in the team's semifinal matchup with Brooke.

"I'm pleased we got an expediated hearing," West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission's executive director Gary Ray told the Associated Press. "Now we can move forward and determine a champion on the field and bring some closure to the season of football."

South Charleston, the two-time defending West Virginia AAA champ, won that semifinal, but Brooke officials immediately challenged the outcome, claiming that the four players involved in the previous game's fight should never have played, citing a standard West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission penalty of one game for any player involved in an in-game fight.

The surprising ruling, which the SSAC certified by immediately awarding the semifinal to Brooke due to official forfeit by South Charleston, sets up a state championship game on Saturday, marking the first time Martinsburg knows who and where it will play since it first advanced to the title game.

"We're excited to be playing," Martinsburg coach Dave Walker told the Associated Press. "We had a pretty good idea it was going to be Brooke from everything we were hearing."

If there was any question of any additional appeal to an even higher court, the attorney representing the South Charleston players who illegally competed in the semifinal eliminated that possibility immediately.

"We're disappointed with the Supreme Court's ruling," attorney Ben Salango told the Associated Press. "However, we understand and respect the ruling. We're thankful the Supreme Court ruled in such an expedited manner so that everyone can move on."

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