Sports Talk: Jacket coach one of the best in the MOV

WILLIAMSTOWN – Terry Smith’s football philosophy can be simply summarized in three words: blocking and tackling.

If you do these things, Williamstown’s 10th-year head coach has often said, on a consistent and effective basis, you’re probably going to win a lot of games on the gridiron.

Smith should know, because his Yellowjacket teams have posted 100 victories, including one West Virginia Class A championship, since he took over the reins in 2004.

Now, the Jackets (2-0) are hoping to make it Win 101 when they play the Adam Eichhorn-coached Marietta Tigers (1-1) at Don Drumm Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday.

Williamstown got Smith his milestone 100th win in dramatic fashion last Friday night when it rallied from a four-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat visiting Magnolia of New Martinsville, 15-14.

Trailing 14-10 late, the Yellowjackets appeared to be all but beat but had Mark Batton-coached Magnolia (0-2) backed up against its own end zone and in a fourth-and-16 situation. It should be noted that the Blue Eagles didn’t help themselves any in the series with three straight illegal procedure penalties.

Apparently fearful of a blocked kick or runback, the Magnolia braintrust decided to take an intentional safety, which put two points on the board for Williamstown, making it 14-12 with 1:44 left in the contest.

To be honest with you, I can’t imagine Smith and his staff even considering an intentional safety, let alone giving up any points willingly to the opposition. If Williamstown had been in a similar situation, Smith probably would have relied on “blocking and tackling” to get the Jackets out of it. That is, after all, what he preaches in practice.

Anyway, Williamstown had new life, and plenty of time remaining to win the ballgame – which is of course what it did.

Turns out, Magnolia’s strategy backfired badly as on the ensuing free kick, after the safety, Williamstown got a good return into Magnolia territory, moved the ball to the 9, and won it on Kade Kiselica’s 26-yard field goal.

Call it good fortune, good coaching, or whatever, but Williamstown is still undefeated and now focused on Marietta.

Thing is, Smith has always been a believer in making your own breaks on the football field. Of course, it always helps to have the personnel in order to accomplish this, and Williamstown has had plenty of good players since he’s been at the helm.

Smith succeeded Dave Chapman as head coach in 2004, and guided the Jackets to an 11-1 overall record and a playoff appearance. He missed by one year of having his son Shane quarterback the team.that first season. Under Chapman, who incidentally is now an assistant at Magnolia, Shane Smith and the maroon and gold were 25-2, including two straight 10-0 regular-season marks.

During the next three years, Terry Smith-led Williamstown enjoyed much success on the gridiron, but came up short in the title games at Wheeling Island Stadium, finishing as state runner-up.

The fourth time proved to be the charm as the Yellowjackets finally claimed the football program’s first state championship in 2008.

It should be noted that another key to the maroon and gold’s gridiron success has been the coaching staff. Smith has had Ben Preston, Scott Moore, Dennie Uhl, and Jeff Bayles almost from Day 1. Ken Cox, Chris Beck, and Dusty Watson also served stints on the staff.

As the years have gone by, Williamstown has continued to win football games and make the playoffs. Even last season, a down year by the Yellowjackets’ standards, the maroon and gold earned a postseason berth and finished 6-5.

Being a small West Virginia school, Williamstown will probably be the underdog when it plays “bigger” Marietta, which is hoping to bounce back from a 20-13 setback to Warren last Friday night.

The Yellowjackets figure to be very competitive, though, because they’re well-coached, and know how to “block and tackle.”

In football, it’s really as simple as that. Just ask Terry Smith.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com