Bethany gridders turn heads

One of the great things about sports is you never know what’s going to happen.

They’re America’s greatest reality shows.

No scripts. Just dreams waiting to become reality.

It’s been a topsy-turvy kind of a fall for many Ohio Valley sports fans. For the better, for most.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, who have battled to climb out of the doldrums for the past two decades, advanced to within one win of their first National League Championship Series since 1992.

The Cleveland Browns have won three straight games and are tied for the lead in the AFC North.

And the Bethany Bison, who haven’t won a Presidents’ Athletic Association football championship since 1980, are basking in the glow of a victory against Washington and Jefferson for the first time since 1983.

Yes, not since Ronald Regan’s first term had the Bison sent the Presidents home with an L. In fact, it was early in the 1982 season and Bethany topped the Presidents 28-9.

It was the second of four straight regular-season losses for W&J, something that hasn’t happened since.

The Presidents went on to win or share 20 PAC crowns after that while the Bison, while they turned out some successful seasons, never brought championship hardware back to Brooke County.

Sometimes coaches believe it takes a signature victory to get things rolling. Maybe this win is it for first-year head coach Bill Garvey, who just happened to be 8-years-old when the Bison beat the Presidents the last time.

“Getting the monkey off our back in this win is something that will help this program to move forward and believe that we can compete with anyone else on our schedule,” he said following the victory.

“(Saturday’s) win wasn’t only for us. We have to thank all of the alumni who continuously support our program, and who still see W&J as a big rival. This one was one for them as well.”

The victory moved the Bison to 2-1 in the PAC, good enough for a tie for second with W&J, Geneva and Waynesburg, where Bethany travels to next Saturday following this week’s bye week.

The Bison are 2-3 overall, but two of those losses were by a combined 11 points.

Helping the key the last week’s victory was Linsly graduate Phil Acrie, who amassed 200 total yards.

But the big star was senior quarterback Matt Grimard.

Grimard, who leads NCAA Division III in passing yardage with 1,682, is the reigning PAC Offensive Player of the Week and ECAC Southwest Co-Offensive Player of the Week.

Against the Presidents, Grimard threw for 335 yards and rushed for another 89. In the process, he became the first Bison to reach 10,000 total career yards (10,038) and is the active career leader in Division III.

He holds 16 career, single-season, and single-game records at Bethany.

“Matt has always been a special player,” Garvey said.

West Liberty Men Tabbed Second

Coach Jim Crutchfield doesn’t rebuild, he reloads.

The West Liberty University men’s basketball team was ranked No. 2 nationally earlier this week when the Division II Bulletin released its 23rd annual NCAA Division II Preseason Top 25.

Metro State, which edged the Hilltoppers in last season’s Elite Eight, got the top spot. Seattle pacific, South Carolina-Aiken and Bellarmine (Ky.) rounded out the top 5.

Senior guard Cedric Harris was named Preseason All-American.

The Hilltoppers open the season at home at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 against Washington Adventist.

Speaking of the Toppers

Coach Lynn Ullom’s West Liberty women’s basketball squad was ranked 21st in the country, also by Division II Bulletin.

Senior guard Hillary Southworth, was named one of the nation’s “Super Sixteen” players. The “Super Sixteen” is a listing of the top two players in each of the country’s eight Division II regions.

The Hilltoppers open their season on Nov. 8 when they take on Kutztown (Pa.) in the first game of the Glenville Tipoff Classic.

Pair of Cardinals Lauded

The Mountain East has given two Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals the nod as Conference Players of the Week in their respective sports.

Aubrey Hutchinson was named MEC Offensive Player of the Week in soccer, while Haley Kindall shared the honnor in volleyball with V.Va. State’s Hayley Kirby.

Hutchinson had a part in all three Cardinals goals in a 3-2 win against West Liberty. Hutchinson found the back of the net twice and added an assist.

Kindall led the Cardinals to a pair of victories last week, including an impressive four-set win over regional rival California, Pa. Kindall finished the week with 23 kills and had a hitting percentage of .415. She also added five blocks for WJU.