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Going the same way

June 19, 2011
Weirton Daily Times

It is time, one day later, for the Madonna faithful to get rid of the woulda, shoulda and coulda sound bites and get behind new coach Doug Taylor.

It is no longer about who wasn't hired, and is all about who was hired.

In case no one has noticed, this Madonna team, as the teams the past four years, has had a ton of expectations heaped upon their broad shoulders.

When people talk about West Virginia Class A football teams, Madonna is mentioned early and often, instead of rarely or not at all.

And, let's face it, that's the way it should be.

That's the way the coaches, players, fans, staff, administration and community should want it to be.

As Taylor spends the next few days or weeks completing his staff, there are a bunch of kids who cannot wait for the Aug. 26 opener at Valley High School.

The Blue Dons will start the season somewhere ranked in the top 10 in the state and will look to make a December appearance at Wheeling Island Stadium.

But, that can only be done through hard work and selfless dedication, and, because of the nature of sports, that may not even be enough.

Remember, the march to the state championship game in 2008 was enhanced because of a missed field goal as time expired.

Sometimes, you need help to get there.

That help was not needed one year later in the 14-0 romp through everyone to the state title, led by coach Bob Kramer.

Now that he has stepped down and Taylor has been hired to roam the sidelines, his help is needed by everyone in the Madonna community to do one of two things - you all either need to push or pull the bandwagon.

You can't do both.

Doing both means too many people around the fringe of the program are fighting about incidental garbage that does not need to be around the program.

After talking to him Friday, Taylor has his eyes wide open about what this job entails and the expectations that come with it.

He knows the kind of job Kramer did to get the program off life support and build it into a fully-breathing Class A power.

His job is now to make that program better.

Easy? No.

Possible? Absolutely.

But, it can only be done with everybody pushing or pulling the program in the same direction - the right direction.

The Madonna higher-ups have done a wonderful job in the past few years to upgrade the facilities - the weight room, wrestling room, coaches office and a multi-purpose room, to name a few.

I would guess that booster support is really high right now, and it should continue that way.

But, frankly, I don't want to hear on a Friday or Saturday Madonna game that this coach is terrible, or you are glad Kramer is gone or anything else of that nature.

That does nothing but tear down a program and that cannot be done while things are looking up.

The truth is, folks, that the athletic programs at Madonna have won state titles in football, baseball, basketball and golf and individual state championships in wrestling and track recently.

There are a lot of good things going on with the Blue Dons.

Expectations are higher than ever and that's a good thing.

Just like a little perspective.

The West Virginia North-South Football Classic was held Saturday night at the University of Charleston's Laidley Field.

Madonna's Connor Arlia and Brooke's Ryan Lazear were members of the North team.

Lazear is headed to Mount Union and Arlia to West Virginia University to be a preferred walk-on.

"I'm absolutely blessed to have been part of great teams at Madonna,'' Arlia told Rick Ryan of the Charleston Gazette. "Great coaches, great people at Madonna. I'm just truly blessed to come through a great system. I have no regrets at Madonna, no regrets.

"It's just great people all through Madonna. A lot of hard work's put in. It's just something about Madonna. You've almost got to be there. There's so much heart in the school, and we've had some great classes (of athletes) come through. I've been very fortunate.''

Edison graduate Mark Rogers, along with coach Mike McKenzie, participated in the Big 33 Classic Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium. Rogers is on his way to play football at Division II Tiffin University, which is under the direction of new head coach Gary Goff.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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