RCB’s Funk, Goff Athletes of Week
by Greg Talkington
SPORTSWRITER
    Two Robert C. Byrd athletes have gained top honors in the first week of the spring portion of the Clarksburg Exponent  and Telegram/One Valley Bank Athlete of the Week program.
    Baseball player James Michael Funk and softball player Kristin Goff hit their way to the honors last week.
Funk, a sophomore catcher, led Robert C. Byrd past Grafton and Elkins.
    Funk had two home runs in each of those games. All four homers were solo shots. “When you work year round, this is an example of what can happen. That’s what James has done,” RCB coach Felix Veltri said. “He’s been hot, no doubt about it.
“And he’s been excellent behind the plate.”
    Goff, a senior, had a grand slam in RCB’s win over Notre Dame. She also was 2-for-3 in a victory over South Harrison and 3-for-3 in a loss to University.
Other male athletes:
-Liberty’s Josh Matheny raised his career prep record to 18-0 with an opening day victory over Philip Barbour.
- RCB’s Brandon Bartos fanned 18 and gave up just four hits in an 8-1 victory over Grafton.
- Notre Dame’s Jeremy Wright went 4-for-4 with 2 RBIs and a homer in a one-run loss to Grafton.
-Lincoln’s Mike Moschella hit a pair of homers in a 9-6 loss to North Marion and added another homer in a 12-5 loss to Preston.
-Liberty’s Trey Adams homered, doubled and drove in four runs in a 7-6 win over Philip Barbour.
- Liberty’s Scott Morris went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs in the win over Philip Barbour.
- RCB’s Lee Binion finished first in both the high jump and long jump at a meet in Doddridge County last week. He also finished second in the high jump in a three-way meet.
-Liberty’s Chris Feathers won the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs in a three-team meet last week.
Other female athletes:
-Bridgeport’s Erica Rome was 2-for-4 with three RBIs in a victory over Grafton and also had one Bridgeport’s two hits in a 4-1 loss to defending state champion Point Pleasant.
-Bridgeport’s Angie Handschumacher was 3-for-3 against Grafton.
-Lincoln’s Jamie Wentz was 2-for-3 with a double and was the winning pitcher against Notre Dame. She went 2-for-5 in a loss to Grafton.
-Lincoln’s Tracy Vanscoy was 3-for-3 with a double and triple against Notre Dame and was 2-for-5 against Grafton.
-RCB’s Shawna Elder pitched her team past South Harrison while also going 3-for-5.
-Bridgeport’s Amy Miller took first places in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes in a three-team meet. Her 100 time of 12.88 was excellent for early in the season.
-Robert C. Byrd’s Stephanie Hatfield won the 1,600 and 3,200 runs in a three-way meet and finished fourth in the 1,600 at Doddridge County.
-Liberty’s Nina Yokochi won the 100 high hurdles and finished third in the 800 in her team’s first meet of the season, a three-team event.
-Robert C. Byrd’s Denise Hill won the shot put at a three-team event and finished fourth at the Doddridge County Early Bird meet.


What to do about Lewis County’s woes?
by Matt Harvey
SPORTSEDITOR
    Lewis County athletic boosters are scrambling for answers to their abysmal baseball, football and boys basketball teams.
As reported in Sunday’s Clarksburg Exponent and Telegram and in recent issues of the Weston Democrat, there are plenty of possible solutions:
-Improve off-season conditioning.
- Increase interest and participation in athletics.
- Move to a conference with smaller schools.
- Learn how to win again.
All are commendable.
    Ultimately, however, it comes down to one principle. You win with people, as legendary college football coach Woody Hayes adamantly believed.
    That means Lewis County either changes its athletes, or changes its coaches. Even in this time of musical transfers, Lewis County can do little to change the makeup of its athletic pool. Anyway, my suspicion is the county already has respectable athletic talent.
    The boys track squad last year had some of the best relay teams in Class AAA. Lewis County obviously has ample speed, and speed is crucial for success in football, basketball and baseball.
    Size, strength and stamina can be gained through proper workouts. Agility, at least at the high school level, can be augmented with technique to disguise flaws. Speed, though, comes from nature. You’re fast, or you aren’t. So forget about importing athletes.
On, then, to (painful) Option B.
    No offense to the current baseball, boys basketball and football coaching staffs. They’re working hard in very unforgiving situations.
    But the bleeding has gone on for so long, it’s probably going to take a transfusion for Lewis to get these sports out of the ICU. It’s kind of like the situation current Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan faced in his short, stormy stay with the Oakland Raiders: The timing wasn’t right.
    Lewis County hadn’t quite hit totally embarrasing until now. And probably, county officials weren’t quite ready to grant all-out change until now. That’s likely too late for the current coaches.
    But after a 2-51 combined baseball, boys basketball and football mark last year — and seemingly with no better times ahead — the clamor for change is growing exponentially.
So gently bump the current coaches down to assistants.
    Then hire extremely dynamic — and veteran — head coaches to come in, build the programs up quickly, and stay. That won’t be easy, at least not in all three sports.
    Every school wants veteran coaches in these sports that usually are the foundation for a high school athletic department’s budget. It’s also unlikely many coaches will want to wade through Lewis County’s current quagmire.
    Lewis County could opt for aggressive young coaches, but they usually move on as soon as they can, destroying continuity.
It sounds gloomy, and it is.
But there is hope.
    His name is William Haddix. Haddix, head football coach at Tucker County, is one of the best high school coaches of any sport in West Virginia right now.
    Haddix is an outstanding football coach. He sets goals, then gets his players clawing toward them. Most importantly, he generates a positive outlook and enthusiasm.
    Lewis County should consider hiring him as head coach in all three sports, plus name him athletic director. Would he do it? I have no idea.
But it’s certainly worth a try.
    His passion for sports ... well, any coach willing to drive over the mountains every day — Haddix lives in Fairmont, nowhere close to Tucker — obviously loves his work. Would Haddix make the move? I don’t know.
But I think Lewis County can make a strong run for him.
Consider:
— The trip to Lewis — a straight, half-hour shot down I-79 — would be much easier for Haddix than the drive to Tucker.
— Lewis County plays football in Class AAA, Tucker in Class AA.
— I’m betting the chance to coach baseball and basketball in addition to football would be a big inducement.
— I’m also betting the chance to fashion one of the biggest turnarounds in West Virginia high school sports history — in not just one sport, but three very important ones — would be intriguing for Haddix.
    It would be expensive to hire Haddix. And he undoubtedly would want job security as a coach and a teacher, which would take some creative administrative juggling.
    For Haddix to have a chance, he would need the full support and cooperation of school officials, the county’s board of education and the community. Beyond his talent, there’s another reason Haddix would be worth it.
Haddix would coach the same boys season ... after season ... after season.
    Think they’d learn his methods of discipline and techniques, plus stay in shape? You bet. And success in one sport would “avalanche" into the others.
    That would give Lewis County a big advantage. At 2-51, maybe the Minutemen better get a move on and grab for it.


Will Rego be next top WVU back?
by Joedy McCreary
SPORTSWRITER
    MORGANTOWN – Cooper Rego knows that every time he carries the football for WestVirginia in 1999, he will be running against an opponent tougher than any defense Miami or Syracuse can throw his way.
He will also face the legacy of Amos Zereoue.
    Mountaineer fans remember Zereoue’s slash-and-burn style of running. And Rego knows that for every carry he gets this season, fans will ask “How many yards would Amos have gained?”
    No problem, Rego says. To Rego, that’s the meaning of spring football: Developing a style all his own. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of putting together  my style,” Rego said Tuesday.  “Any time a superstar leaves, you know you’re going to be questioned. But that should fade away once they get used to watching me or whoever else plays.”
    Fans will try to compare Rego to Zereoue, who bypassed his senior season for a shot at the NFL Draft. But Rego says comparing him to Zereoue is much tougher than tackling him.
    Their lone common trait is stature:Zereoue is 5-foot-8, Rego 5-9. And Zereoue weighs in at a well-chiseled 200 pounds, while Rego is at 195.
    Differences can be found, Rego says, in running style. “I’m a little bit quicker, a little bouncier,” Rego said. “I can dart and dash and shoot past defenders. “I’m more of a quick-burst runner,” Rego said. “Zereoue’s more of a slasher.”
Zereoue was indirectly responsible for leading Rego to WVU.  Rego was a freshman tailback at Notre Dame and was on ND’s sidelines  for WVU’s November visit to South Bend, Ind.
    That day, Zereoue rushed for 234 yards against the NotreDame defense. “I was overwhelmed at Notre Dame,” Rego said. “I had no idea what it was going to be like. It was weird – taking handoffs from Ron Powlus, watching Autry Denson and all these guys I watched in high school.
    “And I was really impressed with Amos and all his yards he gained against Notre Dame,” Rego said.
Rego sat out the 1998 season, practicing with WVU’s scout team.
    This year, he’s in competition with Alvin Swoope, Avon Cobourne and fullback Anthony Green for the starting tailback role. “I don’t expect to win it over Swoope because of his experience,” Rego said. “We’ve got a lot of good backs with a lot of ability. I’ll fit anywhere they want to put me.”


Youthful RCBcontinues to thrive
From Staff Reports
    A year ago, a young Robert C. Byrd team had about as many ups as downs en route to an 11-13 record. That investment in the youth movement is paying off nicely now.
    RCB improved to 4-0 with a 12-2, five-inning win over Bridgeport on Tuesday afternoon at Frank Loria Memorial Field.
Byrd’s players are veterans, but they’re by no means old. RCB has no seniors, and four key juniors: Brandon Bartos, Gabe Devono, Keith Small and Anthony Gianettino. Never mind age.
    Sophomores James Funk and Joe Moore both are hitting .692, with nine hits in their first 13 at-bats. “Bartos, Gianettino, Small, Devono, they’ve been with me, they’ve been playing since they were young,” RCB coach Felix Veltri said. “And last year’s team, we started six freshmen and won 11 games, and really should have beaten Bridgeport in our sectional. These were all good signs these kids were going to come back and the experience was going to pay off.”
    Still, Veltri is by no means guaranteeing the run of success will continue. “I don’t want people to jump to conclusions, make a big thing of this yet. ... It’s still way too early,” Veltri said.
    In addition to Funk and Moore, Craig Kelley also has been hot at the plate for RCB, which is averaging 12 hits.
Kelley had the key hit Tuesday, a two-run double that helped launch an eight-run fifth .
    That was enough to give Byrd the win via the mercy rule. It was RCB’s second victory in as many Big 10 games.
Funk was 2-for-3 Tuesday, while Moore was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.
    Scott Ross, back this week after an ankle injury kept him out of Byrd’s first two games, had two hits and an RBI. Devono added two hits, two RBIs and a run, while Gianettino had a hit, a run and two RBIs.
    Bartos was masterful again, giving up three hits and the two runs in going the distance. Bartos improved to 2-0 and has a 1.50 ERA. “He has a good hard fastball, and he’s been placing his curveball real well for this early in the season,”Veltri said. Bartos and Gianettino have provided leadership, Veltri said.
    Joe Honce started for Bridgeport (1-1, 1-1), giving up four runs on 6 hits over the first four  innings before giving way to Paul Graeber in the fifth.
    C.R. Dent, Justin Belcastro and Honce had Bridgeport’s hits. Dent and Honce had an RBI apiece. RCB plays Frankfort in a doubleheader starting at noon today. Bridgeport is home against North Marion today.
    Frankfort lost to eventual champion Liberty in the Class AA state tournament last year, so the doubleheader could be a good barometer for RCB. “Their coach told me that they were good last year, but he thinks they’re even better this year,” Veltri said.


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