WHEELING, W.Va. – Entering the 2011 prep football season there weren’t many people who knew the name Gino Bianconi, and that includes those residing in the Upper Ohio Valley.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Wheeling Central senior running back made sure that will never happen again with a record-breaking performance in the state championship game that will leave his name all over the Super Six program, likely for years to come.
Some might wonder what could top a season in which Bianconi rushed for 2,132 yards and 31 touchdowns, culminating in all-class records for carries (39), yards (355) and touchdowns (five) in the Maroon Knights’ 35-21 victory against Williamstown in the state championship game. Today that answer is known.
Bianconi is captain of the Class A All-State team, as voted on by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
“He followed some great backs (and) they sort of opened the gates for what he has been able to do,” Wheeling Central coach Mike Young said. “He saw that it was his turn and he answered the call and answered the bell.”
The Maroon Knights captured the ninth state football championship in school history, and eighth since 2000. Bianconi wasn’t a one-man show, as evidenced by his teammates dotting the All-State list.
Joining Bianconi on the first-team unit are sophomore quarterback Parker Henry, who was a utility selection, offensive lineman Nick Naumann, kicker Brad Cottrell, and defensive lineman Braxton Nolte. The Maroon Knights also landed offensive lineman Seth Yost and defensive back Ian Yahnke on the second team.
“That’s quite the recognition,” Young said. “That’s tremendous for these kids – not just the ones that are mentioned, but for the entire team.
“And for our coaching staff for prepping these kids to play. It speaks so much about the Wheeling Central program.”
Henry was injured on the third play of the title game, which prohibited him from running the football and surpassing 2,000 yards of total offense. He finished with 1,259 yards on the ground and 696 yards through the air while accounting for 29 touchdowns overall. He threw just one interception.
As a pulling guard – the key in Central’s offense – Naumann helped open holes that produced 4,000 yards rushing, and more than 5,000 overall. Cottrell kicked five field goals and finished with 64 points, while Nolte led the team in tackles (109) and sacks (seven).
After throwing for nearly 3,000 yards – more than 8,000 for his career – and 37 touchdowns, East Hardy senior Kollin Foltz was an easy choice for first-team quarterback. In addition to Bianconi, Foltz is joined in the backfield by Pocahontas County’s Kyler Doss (335 carries, 1,933 yards and 24 TDs), Fayetteville’s Elijah Lewis and Paden City’s Taylor Still (249 carries, 1,632 yards, 21 TDs).
Accompanying Naumann on the line are returning all-stater Jamin Branch of Wahama, Williamstown’s Avery Goff, Wirt County’s Scotty Lowe and Fayetteville’s Tryston Evans.
Notre Dame’s Nick Alvaro, who hauled in 72 passes for 1,116 yards (state leader in both categories) and scored nine touchdowns, is back at receiver. He’s joined by Buffalo’s Jarrett Smith (32 catches, 737 yards and 11 touchdowns).
The other utility spots are Wirt County’s Dalton Brindo, who accumulated 1,443 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground, hauled in 32 passes for 531 yards and six touchdowns, and also found time to complete 13 of 32 passes for 242 yards and two more scores, and Williamstown’s Trey King. King rushed for 1,557 yards and 22 scores, and also had 320 yards and three touchdowns receiving.
Wirt County’s Eric Young, Williamstown’s Chris McDuffy, Parkersburg Catholic’s Pete Walters (28.5 tackles) join Nolte along the defensive front, as does Bishop Donahue’s Andrew Beveridge, who racked up 88 tackles – 17 for loss – as well as two sacks, a pair of forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception he returned for a score.
“He broke his hand in the second game and had to miss one with surgery, but played with a club on his hand the rest of the season,” Bishops coach John Durdines said. “Just a consummate leader in terms of doing the right thing.”
The biggest honor on the defensive side of the ball went to Beveridge’s teammate, Kyle Gillis, who captains the squad. A two-time first-teamer, Gillis had 63 tackles, forced one fumble and recovered another, and pulled in three interceptions from his defensive back spot.
“We played a lot of good passing teams this season,” Durdines said. “His run-stopping ability sets him apart.
“But he can also shut down passing games by himself.”
Isaac Lee of Wahama and Robbie Belmont of Valley (Fayette) can also be found at DB, as can Moorefield’s Zack Laughlin, who pulled in nine interceptions – three returned for scores. He has 29 career INTs.
The linebackers are Williamstown’s Aaron Jones (156 tackles, 14 for loss, three sacks), Fayetteville’s Hunter Hernandez, Wahama’s Anthony Grimm and Moorefield’s Louis Richardson (two fumble recoveries for scores).
Alex Redden of Meadow Bridge and Clay-Battelle’s Derek Hinkle are the utility picks, and Buffalo’s Levi Jones is the punter.
Wirt County receiver J.T. Nemeth (offense) and Richwood linebacker Spencer McPherson (defense) are the second-team captains.
Shawn Rine is a sports writer for the Wheeling Intelligencer in Wheeling, W.Va.
Class A All-State Football Team
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The 2011 Class A All-State Football Team, as selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
QB - Kollin Foltz, East Hardy, 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, sr.
RB - Gino Bianconi, Wheeling Central, 5-10, 165, sr. (Captain)
RB - Kyler Doss, Pocahontas County, 6-0, 185, jr.
RB - Elijah Lewis, Fayetteville, 5-10, 155, sr.
RB - Taylor Still, Paden City, 5-11, 175, sr.
OL - Jamin Branch, Wahama, 6-0, 280, sr.
OL - Avery Goff, Williamstown, 6-2, 295, jr.
OL - Trystan Evans, Fayetteville, 6-2, 285, sr.
OL - Scotty Lowe, Wirt County, 5-11, 212, jr.
OL - Nick Naumann, Wheeling Central, 5-9, 190, jr.
WR - Nick Alvaro, Notre Dame, 6-0, 165, sr.
WR - Jarrett Smith, Buffalo, 5-10, 180, sr.
Util - Dalton Brindo, Wirt County, 6-3, 215, sr.
Util - Parker Henry, Wheeling Central, 5-9, 160, so.
Util - Trey King, Williamstown, 5-11, 185, sr.
K - Bradley Cottrell, Wheeling Central, 5-11, 140, jr.
DL - Andrew Beveridge, Bishop Donahue, 6-2, 225, sr.
DL - Chris McDuffy, Williamstown, 6-1, 200, jr.
DL - Braxton Nolte, Wheeling Central, 5-11, 225, jr.
DL - Peter Walters, Parkersburg Catholic, 5-11, 220, sr.
DL - Eric Young, Wirt County, 6-2, 300, sr.
LB - Anthony Grimm, Wahama, 6-3, 200, sr.
LB - Hunter Hernandez, Fayetteville, 5-4, 150, sr.
LB - Aaron Jones, Williamstown, 6-1, 180, sr.
LB - Louis Richardson, Moorefield, 6-0, 205, sr.
DB - Robbie Belmont, Valley (Fayette), 5-5, 142, sr.
DB - Kyle Gillis, Bishop Donahue, 6-1, 185, sr. (Captain)
DB - Zack Laughlin, Moorefield, 6-2, 180, sr.
DB - Isaac Lee, Wahama, 6-1, 180, sr.
Util - Derek Hinkle, Clay-Battelle, 5-10, 175, sr.
Util - Alex Redden, Meadow Bridge, 5-11, 168, sr.
P - Levi Jordan, Buffalo, 6-1, 175, jr.
QB - Trenton Gibbs, Wahama, 6-0, 175, jr.
RB - Corey Aichele, Doddridge County, 6-1, 185, sr.
RB - Casey Pingley, Valley (Wetzel), 5-8, 190, sr.
RB - Jacob Stroupe, South Harrison, 5-10, 160, sr.
OL - Derek Barnhart, St. Marys, 5-9, 206, jr.
OL - Slayton Beard, Valley (Fayette), 5-9, 230, jr.
OL - Nick Meadows, Williamstown, 5-11, 215, jr.
OL - Dustin Reed, Buffalo, 5-6, 205, sr.
OL - Seth Yost, Wheeling Central, 5-9, 230, sr.
WR - J.T. Nemeth, Wirt County, 6-1, 160, sr. (Captain)
WR - Josh Parker, East Hardy, 6-2, 170, jr.
WR - Mark Walker, Cameron, 6-2, 200, jr.
Util - Jordan Bonar, Bishop Donahue, 5-11, 185, jr.
Util - Laythen Good, Buffalo, 5-6, 145, so.
Util - Tyler Gunnoe, Van, 5-10, 175, sr.
K - Garrett Butler, Williamstown, 6-2, 175, jr.
DL - Jacob Buckler, Moorefield, 6-2, 270, sr.
DL - Shawn Childers, East Hardy, 6-1, 240, sr.
DL - Taylor Neely, Cameron, 5-10, 210, sr.
DL - Michael Joe Seamon, Notre Dame, 6-3, 230, sr.
LB - Shane Browning, Man, 5-9, 168, sr.
LB - Ross Comis, Madonna, 6-0, 175, so.
LB - Jake Grimmett, Midland Trail, 5-11, 176, jr.
LB - Spencer McPherson, Richwood, 6-2, 210, sr. (Captain)
LB - David Smith, Wirt County, 5-8, 240, sr.
DB - Ryan Hughes, Cameron, 6-0, 160, sr.
DB - Skylar Knicely, Pocahontas County, 5-10, 195, sr.
DB - Logan Moore, Calhoun County, 5-9, 130, so.
DB - Ian Yahnke, Wheeling Central, 5-8, 140, sr.
Util - Zach Wamsley, Wahama, 6-0, 185, jr.
Util - Corey Tolley, Valley (Fayette), 6-0, 181, sr.
P - Aaron Krise, Fayetteville, 5-9, 159, jr.
Michael Adkins, Tucker County; Alex Barry, Bishop Donahue; Marcus Bailey, Montcalm; Zach Bennett, Richwood; Jamie Billiter, Paden City; Jacob Buckler, Moorefield; Devon Carr, Williamstown; Daniel Collie, Parkersburg Catholic; Jimmy Duba, Man; James Evans, Wirt County; Alex Ferrari, Buffalo; Erik Gompers, Wheeling Central; Hunter Grimes, Pocahontas County; Tristan Haught, Clay-Battelle; Brad Higgenbotham, Valley (Fayette); Dustin Hinkle, East Hardy; Jamie Miller, East Hardy; Ryan Mozingo, Madonna; Ollie Parker, Bishop Donahue; Zack Romine, Parkersburg Catholic; Nick Shaffer, Notre Dame; John Smallwood, Valley (Wetzel); Casey Stewart, Valley (Fayette); James Swenski, South Harrison; Thomas Teets, Moorefield; Zack Wamsley, Wahama; Austin Warinsky, Cameron; Cole White, St. Marys; Matt White, Van; Zack Zide, Williamstown.
Corey Agosti, Van; Ben Amos, Williamstown; Logan Bailey, Richwood; Taylor Campbell, Wirt County; Santino Cava, Notre Dame; Tyler Childers, South Harrison; Drew Christy, Parkersburg Catholic; Steven Crane, Meadow Bridge; Nate Cosgrove, Calhoun County; Andrew Cosper, St. Marys; Mitch Davis, Parkersburg Catholic; Corey DiBartelomeo, Tucker County; Brandon Elswick, Van; Alex Graham, Richwood; Brandon Gibson, Man; Brandon Gloshen, Pocahontas County; Zach Hall, Cameron; Keith Hardbarger, Paden City; Saquan Hill, Bishop Donahue; C.J. Jividen, Buffalo; Andrew Keane, Wheeling Central; Ethan Long, Tucker County; Spencer Mason, Valley (Wetzel); Elliott Nero, Madonna; Nathan O’Dell, Midland Trail; Austin Patterson, Clay-Battelle; Connor Peklinsky, Wheeling Central; Daniel Plaugher, Doddridge County; Cody Price, Van; Drew Ridgway, Notre Dame; Shawn Skovron, East Hardy; Kyle Staton, Paden City; Lance Taylor, Moorefield; Clay Uetschy, Valley (Wetzel); Matt White, Valley (Fayette); Clayton Yeager, Doddridge County; Ray Yoho, Hundred.