WHEELING, W.Va. — Treating the decision as if it was an athletic event, members of the Wheeling Super Six committee are confident heading into a Monday meeting that will decide the location of the event for the next four years.
”I don’t want to be overconfident,” Ohio County Commissioner Tim McCormick said. ”But it’s like anything else. You go into a ballgame and you’re confident you’re going to win.”
The West Virginia state football championships have resided in Wheeling since 1994, when the city wrestled them from Charleston. The three title games – Class AA on Friday night and Class AAA and A on Saturday – are held each year during the first weekend in December.
Wheeling has held off challenges from Charleston, Huntington and Parkersburg over the past few years to keep the games at Wheeling Island Stadium.
As of early December of last year, only Wheeling and Charleston had requested packets to fill out and send in for their respective bids. It’s possible that a darkhorse came along later, though it’s unknown.
”I think the last two (bids), there has been nothing extraordinary that was made or offered in the presentation,” McCormick said of Wheeling’s Super Six bid. ”That bar had been set so high that nobody else could reach it.
”The other folks who were considering applying for it – and we don’t know what’s happening at this point because we have not been informed officially by the SSAC who has applied” – would have to surpass that bar.
Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart and Wheeling Park athletics director Dwaine Rodgers were installed as the point men for this bid. The names at the top have changed throughout the 22 years, but nearly everything else has remained the same.
Sam Mumley and Eric Carder were the founding fathers of the Super Six and were followed by Stewart, Carder and Howard Corcoran. The heads of the group changed again to Bernie Dolan and Rodgers, before settling on the current leaders.
”The two people at the top don’t matter … there just has to be someone at the top,” Stewart said. ”It’s the sponsors that give us money that make it possible.
”It’s the great committee that we have that passionately and tirelessly works to make sure everything gets done. Dwaine and I couldn’t do it alone.”
With Charleston being the lone known opponent, McCormick couldn’t help but harken back to why the Super Six arrived in Wheeling in the first place – namely poor service and a poor atmosphere from the host city.
”What started the whole thing back in 1992, Wheeling Park played in the state finals” in Charleston, he recalled. ”A lot of the parents and administrators did not like the way the kids were treated. It was get off the bus and go to the locker room. They had to find someone to get them in the locker room.
”They went and played the game and they put them back on the bus and sent them home. Nothing fancy and we assumed it was the same for all the other schools.”
In the eyes of Mumley and Carder, something had to be done.
”In 1994, a presentation was made on St. Patrick’s Day down in Charleston during the state basketball tournament,” McCormick continued. ”There were about seven people who made presentations and I was very fortunate to be on the committee and I represented the city (of Wheeling) at that time because I was on City Council.
”I can tell you for a fact that Gary Ray, who is the current executive secretary of the WVSSAC, counted on a piece of paper – he showed us afterward – how many times we mentioned the kids. That was the big selling point for him, because he said that was what the whole thing is for … the kids.”
And for 22 years, that hasn’t changed.
”That started the bar right there. I also know that after we made our presentation Charleston … on a matchbox the guy changed some figures that he was going to offer them and handed it to them,” McCormick said.
”Obviously it was too late to do anything because the bids had already been presented. They did nothing for the kids.”
Wheeling – and anyone else for that matter – had to have a letter stating its intentions to play host to the event to the WVSSAC offices by late December. The actual presentation was due Jan. 19 and the process will come to a head at 1 p.m. Monday when Stewart and Rodgers will lead the contingent to Parkersburg for a decision.
”I don’t think there’s anything official and I can’t speak for the SSAC,” Stewart said. ”But it would seem to us to maybe be a tad unfair to us after everything we’ve done for 22 years, if somebody else came by and said we can match that and do the same thing and (the SSAC) would award the bid elsewhere.
”Again, we try to add to the list a little each year. If we can’t add anything dramatic we go over the list and say ‘hey, did we miss anything or could we do anything better to improve it?”’