By Luke Wiggs, Panhandle News Network Sports
Martinsburg, W.Va– As the playoffs approach, it becomes an opportunity to look into the future as teams are poised to make deep postseason runs. But, it also gives us a chance to reflect on the proud playoff history, or recent budding history, of playoff teams. EPAC teams have combined to play 158 postseason contests and win 12 championships. Let’s look at some of the success of some of these AAA giants.
Washington: All time playoff record (0-2)
Washington just completed their 15th season as a program. The Patriots first made the big dance in 2013 under Mark Hash and lost to Cabell Midland. More recently, Washington enjoyed their best season under current head coach Glen Simpson, but were defeated in round one by Bridgeport in 2020. Expect this list to continue to grow under Simpson and the Patriots.
Spring Mills: All time playoff record (1-5)
The youngest EPAC program has just completed its 10th season coming up just shy of the playoff mark. The Cardinals first reached in 2015 losing to Capital and then made it to an 11th game the next 5 seasons. Spring Mills has just won one contest in the postseason, defeating Greenbrier East in a 28-27 nail-biter in 2019 under Chad Williams, before losing to Martinsburg in the quarterfinals. The young redbirds are poised to not only break 3 year postseason drought, but potentially make a deep run in the coming years.
Jefferson: All time playoff record (4-8)
It took the Cougars 16 seasons before they cracked into the playoffs; they were defeated by Huntington in 1987. It wasn’t until their 5th trip to the postseason that they won a game beating Buckhannon Upshur in 2004 before being eliminated in the quarterfinals by Martinsburg in heartbreaking 35-34 fashion. The Cougars have made the quarter-finals 4 total times but no further.
Musselman: All-time playoff record (25-20) 3 Championships
Musselman’s 24-year playoff drought was ended by their first appearance in the postseason in 1974, winning 2 playoff games including an 8-0 victory against Hamlin at Hite field for a championship. That was a Class A title. The Applemen made 3 deep playoff runs beginning in 1981, losing in the AA semis to Ceredo-Kenova (later consolidated into Spring Valley), Musselman then defeated them in a rematch to claim the 1982 title at Laidley Field in Charleston but Ceredo-Kenova got the last laugh beating Musselman in the title game the next season. Musselman’s next appearance in a title game saw them losing to East Bank in 1989. The Apllemen claimed their 3rd title under the legend Denny Price defeating Bluefield 17-13 in
1995, it was just the second season that the championships had been permanently moved to Wheeling Island stadium. Now in 2022, Musselman has made the playoffs in 7 of the last 8 years.
Martinsburg: All-time playoff record (56-21)
Martinsburg has won twice as many playoff games as the other 5 EPAC teams put together. The Bulldogs have won a remarkable 21 playoff games in a row, and incredibly have won 9 championships since 2010, and lost 11 games total over that time. However, it wasn’t always dominance for Martinsburg. The Bulldogs began playing football in 1920 but didn’t make a playoff appearance until 1976, losing to Parkersburg. They didn’t win their first postseason game until 1990 beating Logan 14-13 before losing in the quarters to Mount View. Martinsburg reached its first state title in 2001 losing to Parkersburg. The Bulldogs made it to the championship game 4 times between ‘01 and ‘06 losing each time. Their first title game in 2010, and with it, 8 others to follow. Martinsburg has won in those 9 championships by an average margin of 25.2 points, with many expecting much of the same for the Bulldogs this year.