West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker
National Wrestling Hall of Famer

"A man's got to know his limitations."
- Dirty Harry (Magnum Force)

One week before football started this year at Warwood Middle School, my principal, Mr. M. Andy Garber, called me up and asked if I could meet him at the school. I had no idea what he wanted.

He cut right to the chase, "Bill, I need you to coach football."

I explained to him I hadn't coached football for nearly twenty years. Furthermore, I was more of the "paperwork guy" back then for the 7th and 8th grade team, and really had no say in drilling offensive or defensive plays because we had four coaches. Furthermore, in those coaching days, Warwood Junior High was not known for producing winning football teams, and I was part of that legacy.

Having finished giving every excuse I could think of, including my age, Principal Garber finally said, "BILL, I NEED YOU TO COACH FOOTBALL."

How could I say no?

Now note, there are only two coaches at the middle school level. So, my responsibility was to prepare the 7th grade football team for games. In other words, I had to put together the offense, defense, and special teams, and mold them into a functioning athletic unit on the field. In essence, I had to actually coach a sport of which I had practically no background experience or knowledge.

At this point, let me digress a bit. My only experience as a football player was in 7th and 8th grade, and that was back in the late 1950s. Moreover, I was a third string defensive "nose guard." I played 90% of my football on the bench, getting in the game (on rare occasions) when the score was 40 to nothing, either way. Point being, I was clueless when it came to the "gridiron."

Now back to this fall. My savior was Head Coach John Chacalos, a meticulous student of the game. He knew he had his hands full with me right from the get go. For example, Coach Chacalos suggested that I move two of my seventh graders to flanker and tailback during the first week of practice.

My response was "Sure, coach. Now, where are those positions?"

But I learned; Coach Chacalos was also a great teacher. And I got smart; I decided to fall back on strategies that worked for me as a wrestler and mat sport coach. The four key elements I utilized with my football players were: Discipline, Drill Work, Conditioning, and Organization, with emphasis on "Drilling the Plays and Conditioning the Players." It worked!

To make a long story short, we entered our final seventh-grade contest of the season with a .500 record, and it was a home game. We were leading at halftime, but our opponent tied it up 20-20 with minutes left to play in the fourth quarter.

Now here's where I truly demonstrated my football "savvy."

With only two minutes left in the game, I felt a slight tug on my coaching shirt. It was a football player's father (Mr. Angalich), who was working the chains. He politely mentioned, "Ya know, coach, you get three time-outs per half in football. This might be a good time to start using them; don't ya think?"

After explaining that there are no timeouts in wrestling, I gratefully thanked him and took his advice.

I called my final timeout with 15 seconds left in the game. We had possession of the ball in midfield, a long way from the goal line. But with a couple of football games under my coaching-belt, I knew exactly what I was going to say to the quarterback.

I finally asserted my football-coaching prowess by asking him, "Grove, what do you think?"

"Coach Welker, I think the 9-0-2 pass play will work."

"Go for it!"

I must admit, though not being Roman Catholic, I believe I crossed myself and said a few "Hail, Mary's" as the ball took flight. On the receiving end was one of our two outstanding flankers, Eric, who caught the ball and ran in for the touchdown with only 10 seconds remaining on the clock.

We won the game 28-20, ended with a winning season, and my boys were ecstatic with joy.

The last thing I remember was looking back toward the field house and seeing Coach Chacalos smiling, while shaking his head in awe.

Some of my overly zealous players have asked me to coach again next year, following my retirement from teaching. But after that final "last-second" home game win as a football coach, I have to say: "Thank you very much but good night."

(Postscript: A sincere "thank you" to the school administration, parents, fans, and especially Coach John Chacalos, for their unwavering support during the season. This column is dedicated to my Warwood "Viking" football players who made my last year as an educator even more enjoyable. They are Josh Angalich, Dan Bardos, Garrett Black, Eric Bonar, Grove Calvert, Jay Coleman, Cody Graham, Cheng Guo, Tyler Jacobs, Jacob Key, Eric Kupske, Bryce Leach, Jesse Link, Eric McCave, Michael Nicely, Devon Rose, Tanner Stephens, Zach Van Horn, Dorian Wilkes, and Nick Wolf. Merry Christmas, boys!)

Team Scoring in Tournaments

The chart for team scoring at tournaments is as follows:

Advancement Points
2 points - Championship Bracket (Regular Decision)
1 point - Consolation Bracket (Regular Decision)
1 point - Major Decision
1 points - Technical Fall
2 points - Fall, Default, Forfeit, or Disqualification

Bye followed with a Win
2 points - Championship Bracket
1 point - Consolation Bracket

Place Winner Points with Tournaments having Four Places
14 points - First Place
10 points - Second Place
7 points - Third Place
4 points - Fourth Place

Place Winner Points with Tournaments having Six Places
16 points - First Place
12 points - Second Place
9 points - Third Place
7 points - Fourth Place
5 points - Fifth Place
3 points - Sixth Place

Place Winner Points with Tournaments having Eight Places
16 points - First Place
12 points - Second Place
9 points - Third Place
7 points - Fourth Place
5 points - Fifth Place
3 points - Sixth Place
2 points - Seventh Place
1 point - Eighth Place

There are no match ties in tournament competition and the wrestlers must go into overtime to decide the winner by the Overtime "Sudden Death" Procedure (which will be explained next Sunday).

That, fans, is team scoring in tournaments. As you can plainly see, the official scorer has his hands full.

Mini-Mat Quiz

Q: Wrestler A wins by a score of 9-1 in the championship bracket. How many points does he score for his team?
A: Wrestler A would score 3 points for his team - 2points for advancement and 1 point for a major decision.

OVAC Joe Thomas Wrestling Warrior

The Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior of the Week is Oak Glen's Troy Eckleberry, a Golden Bear senior wrestler with well over 102-23 victories.

Eckleberry's past accomplishments include a 2007 and 2008 first-place finish in the OVAC Ron Mauck Wrestling Tournament at 112 and 119 respectively. He also was 2nd place in the West Virginia State Championships in 2007 and 3rd place last season.

Troy's collegiate plans are to attend the University of Tennessee and major in nuclear engineering.

Congratulations are extended to Troy Eckleberry - this week's Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior.

OVAC Mark Gerrity Wrestling Fan of the Week

This week's OVAC Mark Gerrity Fan is Oak Glen's Ken Ralston. Ken has been a staunch supporter of the Golden Bears over three decades. His son, Tom, wrestled for Coach Larry Shaw, and now his grandson, Cody Churchill, competes for the ultra-successful mat mentor.

The Deaton-Regis Weekly Dual Meet Predictions

Larry Deaton and Jack Regis, two of the Valley's finest mat officials are competing with each other this season, picking the winners of selected weekly matches.

This week's featured matches on Tuesday are Beaver Local at Howland (3:30 p.m.) and Cambridge at John Glenn (5:00 p.m.).

Deaton picks Beaver Local over Howland 45-12 and John Glenn topping Cambridge 37-28. Regis calls Beaver Local to win 47-13, with Cambridge nipping John Glenn 32-27.

Book/DVD Notes:

The Wrestling Drill Book edited and authored by Bill Welker, with nearly 15,000 sold nationwide, and/or his DVD: Bill Welker's Pancake Takedown Series, would be a great Christmas gift for your favorite wrestler! To purchase an autographed copy of the Book, the cost is $25.00. The DVD is also $25.00. Shipping and handling is included for either of both items. A "SPECIAL" price of $40.00 is offered for the purchase of both. Make all checks payable and send to:

Bill Welker
110 North Huron Street
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003

Don't forget to send your return address and any personal note you want me to write, as well. I will accept Book and DVD requests until December 22nd, so one or both items arrive in your hands before Christmas!

Mat Message

"One of the greatest sources of energy is pride in what you are doing."
-- Spokes
(Dr. Bill Welker can be reached via e-mail at: mattalkwv@hotmail.com)

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