Gorman: West Shamokin sheds stigma for playoff spot
TribLIVE Sports Videos
West Shamokin already got the make-or-break part backward, so it makes sense that the Wolves canceled a Week 10 game so they would be available to play that week.
To explain: West Shamokin broke a WPIAL record before it ever had a winning season. It was a dubious distinction, however, as the Wolves suffered 46 consecutive losses.
Now, just a year after snapping that streak, West Shamokin is on the cusp of qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since the mergers of Dayton and Shannock Valley formed the school in 2000.
The Wolves (5-2, 4-2) need to beat visiting Leechburg (2-5, 2-4) on Friday night in an Eastern Conference game to clinch a berth in the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
If West Shamokin wins, it will be playing a first-round game Nov. 1 instead of its Week 10 date with Allegheny-Clarion Valley.
“The kids know what's at stake,” West Shamokin first-year coach Jon McCullough said. “I said, ‘You guys know what's out there for us to achieve.' ”
McCullough spent the previous four seasons as the Wolves' defensive coordinator, so he endured the depressing and difficult times of the streak.
West Shamokin still runs the Wing-T offense and a 4-4 base defense. The biggest change has come in attitude, where the Wolves altered their approach.
They spent training camp getting not only physically but mentally prepared, learning that you can't live and die with every play.
McCullough prepared his team for the fact that it would have to overcome adversity to win regularly.
The season opener against Springdale proved to be a turning point. The Wolves fumbled on their first play, but got a defensive stop and went on to win the first of three straight.
Rural Valley has responded with a passion for football, with “Go Wolves” signs in gas station windows and packed stands at games.
“It's been a complete change, the support you see,” McCullough said. “I try not to think too much about it, but I know for those kids the stigma that was around West Shamokin football.
“Everybody was telling them, ‘You're not going to be successful. You can't do it.' If we win Friday night, that will be put to rest. The kids have always had the pride in the program. Now, you don't have to be ashamed to show it.”
Now, West Shamokin wants to show that it can go from punch line to playoffs.
Show commenting policy
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.
- WPIAL’s Top 10 football champions of all time
- Report shows Elizabeth Forward stayed within budget
- Play of nose tackles could have impact on Steelers’ stretch run
- Komando: 5 tech gifts to avoid this holiday season
- Snow removal crews from Pennsylvania hit the road to help Buffalo
- Mayor’s comments out of line, West Mifflin Area school directors say
- Enrollment count in federal health care law padded, House panel says
- Pa. health center closures nixed
- Pittsburgh fans pay tribute to ‘Mockingjay Part 1’
- Heyl: Wolf must face hairy situation
- No prison time for Army Sgt. Barbera for phone threat against reporter’s wife