Stein earns special award in Maryland

WHEELING – A new year was ushered in Tuesday. Kurt Stein, however, will always have special memories from 2018.

The Wheeling Central product guided Oakdale High to a sparkling 13-0 season en route to the Maryland Class 2A state football championship last month. Stein was hired as the school’s first-ever head coach in 2010 as Oakdale was a consolidation of Linganore, Thomas Johnson and Urbana high schools.

Stein recently got some icing to that sweet championship cake as he was named USA Today’s Family Insurance All-USA Maryland state coach of the year, regardless of class.

Needless to say, it was a year to remember for Stein.

“I didn’t know about the coach of the year award until one of my assistants texted me. So I went and looked it up,” Stein said. “I am very honored and humbled since there were three other state champion teams as well as some private schools in consideration. I was certainly surprised.

“I was also very pleased that my quarterback was a first-team choice and one of my linebackers made the second team,” he added. “It is very nice recognition for them since there is only one classification.”

Stein’s journey from Oakdale infancy to state championship in less than a decade is remarkable.

The initial grid season was spent playing junior varsity teams as Oakdale only brought in freshman and sophomore students. The Bears followed that by going 0-10 and 2-8 in their first two varsity campaigns.

“Winning a state championship at Oakdale was always my goal from day one as well as through the early tough times,” Stein said. “Nine years ago we started this journey and it’s been a heck-of-a-ride.”

So what is next for Stein and his Oakdale Bears?

“Things in high school are different every year. We will need a lot of players to step up,” Stein said. “Once the semester changes early this year we will do what we always do with our off-season program. We have a January through December calendar.

“We have a football class the last period of the school day. Then we have an after-school session and a third one for eighth graders,” he added. “I really enjoy working with players. We make sure there is a time they can get a workout in without infringing on other programs. I encourage our kids to do other sports.”

THE ALL-USA Today all-star teams also featured local flavor as three OVAC players gained recognition in their respective states.

Wheeling Park’s Tristen Bittner was a first-team offensive line honoree. The 6-4, 270-pound senior is a Marshall Thundering Herd signee

St. Clairsville’s Javon Lyons was a second team offensive line selection. He is a 6-3, 270-pound junior.

Meadowbrook’s Brady Blattner was a first-team honoree at linebacker. He is a 5-10, 195-pound senior.

PLAY BALL

THE WHEELING Central Baseball School, sponsored by the Beast of the East, will be held Jan. 20-21 at the Mount de Chantal Gym. It is open for ages 7-12.

The camp is under the direction of Wheeling Central head baseball coach Bo McConnaughy. The former West Liberty University coaching great is being assisted by Jeremy McConnaughy, Jason Rose, Willie Clegg and Wheeling Central players.

The schedule is as follows:

Sunday, Jan. 20: Focuses on fielding, throwing and base running. Ages 10-12 go from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. while ages 7-9 go from 3-6 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 21: Focuses on hitting, pitching and catching. Ages 10-12 go from 9 a.m. to noon while ages 7-9 go from 1-4 p.m.

Cost is $20 per day or $40 for both days when pre-registered while $25 at the door. Family rates are available in advance. Pre-registration is recommended by Jan. 14. Checks should be made payable to CCHS Baseball.

Participants should bring a bat and glove.

Online registration is available at cchsknights.org and go to the Athletic webpage and click on the Baseball School icon.

More information is available by calling Bo McConnaughy at 304-280-2981 or via email at bmcconaughy@cchsknights.org.

BUBBA’S BITS

KENTUCKY CAPPED off a surprising grid season with a 27-24 win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl Tuesday. The Wildcats feature some Ohio Valley flavor. Shadyside High grad Louie Matsakis is the program’s quality control coordinator. Morevover, star running back Benny Snell Jr. — the game’s MVP — played his high school ball at Westerville Central for legendary Bellaire coach John Magistro.

FIFTY YEARS ago this coming Thursday, St. John Central hoop great Allan Hornyak gained the national spotlight when he scored 86 points against Warren Consolidated in a 123-86 Irish win. He went on to finish the campaign averaging 42 points a game, the second successive season he accomplished the amazing feat. One night after dropping 86 on the Blue Ramblers, he poured in 61 in a triumph over Guernsey Street rival Bellaire.

Hornyak went on to stardom at Ohio State, earning All-Big honors three seasons as freshmen were not allowed to play with the varsity.

JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER being named the Steelers’ MVP is a joke. Ben Roethlisberger — love him or hate him — was the team’s best performer. The award is by a players’ vote. So obviously Big Ben is not well-received by teammates. Antonio Brown, meanwhile, is a mega-talented receiver who is the ultimate “me” player. His tantrums last week must result in a trade.

THE OVAC classifications for next year have been released. There are only two class changes as Shenandoah drops to 2A while River moves up to 3A. Morgantown gained the most students from last year (+115) while Union Local lost the most (-53). All told, 32 schools lost students while 16 schools gained students. Two schools remained the same. Overall, the conference numbers showed a decline of 303 students from last year.

DANA HOLGORSEN’S exodus from Morgantown breaks few, if any, Blue & Gold hearts. Troy’s Neal Brown is an ideal fit. He is a definite upgrade over Holgorsen.

IT WAS refreshing to see Georgia get manhandled by Texas in the Sugar Bowl. The Bulldog Nation was whining because of what they thought was a playoff snub. The Longhorns showed the Bulldogs were not Final Four worthy.

THE DANNY Sancomb coaching magic is taking root at Cal U. (Pa.) The Vulcans have won three of their last four games heading into Saturday’s game against Gannon.

THE COLLEGE football championship game plays out Monday night in Santa Clara. My pick is Clemson 27, Alabama 24.

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