Share This Page

Breakthrough win exceeds West Shamokin expectations

| Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, 11:59 p.m.
Fourth-year West Shamokin Coach Josh Gilliland encourages his players while they drive the blocking sled on Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. Gilliland said he's received an overwhelming amount of congratulations after his Wolves won their first game since 2007 on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. Bill West | Leader Times
West Shamokin junior Austin Bussard said the excitement that followed the Wolves' first win since 2007 on Sept. 14, 2012, has been hard to forget. But he and his teammates know they must focus on the future and continue to improve. Bill West | Leader Times

From the perspective of a few, West Shamokin football's first win since 2007 went even better than expected.

“I didn't expect to get over 100 yards rushing,” said sophomore Andrew Wingard, who gained 142 yards on the ground after accumulating 43 through two weeks.

“I didn't think I'd be the quarterback,” said junior Brady Cornman, who switched from wide receiver to the spot he had as a sophomore to fill in for injured sophomore Alex Lasslo. “It's not my chosen position. But I'm not going to lie: I felt comfortable back there.”

“I didn't think I'd be kicking extra points,” said junior Austin Bussard, who accepted the responsibility after Lasslo suffered a concussion in Week 2 and put the football through the uprights once last Friday.

Unanticipated joys only added to the thrill of West Shamokin's 25-6 home win over Eastern Conference foe Riverview, which ended a WPIAL-record 46-game losing streak. The Wolves entered the season confident that they'd earn a victory. But their ability to do it with an all-around team effort and in the face of injury-created adversity sweetened the moment that much more.

“I'd sat a lot of times in my car and thought about (the win that would end the streak),” coach Josh Gilliland said. “I guess I'm glad it wasn't close and nerve-wracking. But it still felt close.

“We were living on a high.”

The buzz started that night, and it lasted well through the weekend.

“I just kept thinking about it,” Bussard said. “You'd hear a certain word on TV or hear someone talk about football, and emotions would start going again.”

The ability to describe those emotions remains elusive for both the Yellowjackets and their fourth-year coach, Josh Gilliland. The boys and Gilliland more easily explained how their family members, friends and fans showered them with congratulations.

“My phone was blowing up Friday night from everyone that heard about it,” said Gilliland, who even received a call from Lance McCullough, a friend from their days at Kittanning High School who now lives in California. “I was getting texts from people I didn't even know. I just kept answering, ‘Thank you' again and again.”

Even when the phone stopped ringing, the adrenaline stilled flowed through the Wolves. Cornman said he went to bed around 6 a.m. — then he woke up around 9 a.m. and attended the West Shamokin youth football games at Shannock Elementary, where even more excitement awaited.

Cornman and Wingard roamed the sidelines as future West Shamokin players — all between the ages of 7 and 12 — squared off against teams from Redbank Valley. And everywhere they turned, adults offered hands to shake and words of encouragement.

Fellow students seemed just as eager to acknowledge the feat on Monday.

“I didn't know that many people would come up and congratulate us,” Wingard said.

“Three-fourths of the school congratulated us,” Cornman said.

Before the team watched the game film for the first time since Friday, Gilliland reminded the Wolves that there's still far more to accomplish. The players understood, and they kept their excitement to a minimum as they watched the victory unfold on the weight room wall, their projector surface du jour.

“It was a big thing for us to do that,” Bussard said. “But we need to put it behind us.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at wwest@tribweb.com or 724-543-1303 ext. 1321.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.