Thirteen weeks of wins, one bye and too many wind sprints to count later, the Brooke and Madonna football teams are four quarters away from claiming their respective West Virginia state championships.
The Bruins will take on defending champs South Charleston for the Class AAA title at noon today at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Brooke is No. 1 and 13-0, while the Black Eagles are No. 2 and 12-1, its lone loss being at home to Capital, 8-6, on Sept. 25.
People expected South Charleston to give another trip to the turf in Wheeling another solid run, but, really, how many thought the Bruins would "B" back in the state championship game for the first time in 17 years?
But, first-year coach Tom Bruney and the green-and-golf clad kids have shut out all the extraordinary distractions and just played football for 13 weeks.
And, obviously, rather well.
Brooke was trailing 14-0 to Princeton in the first round of the playoffs and then promptly outscored its three opponents 99-32.
The Bruins have been through a come-from-behind victory Week 1 at Parkersburg, three shutouts in four games, the mess that was Musselman and being behind against Princeton, but nothing seems to faze these kids.
And, I am saying nothing will faze them today.
It will be a battle and the Brooke defense will face its stiffest challenge of the season, but I really like its chances for the 14th game of the year.
I like Cotey Wallace and Ryan Lazear and Joey DiNardo and Ian Morris and Jake Lilly and Mike Koscevic and Kyle Sims and ... and ... and ... and ...
As heavy as the Brooke bandwagon is, I really like its quickness and speed.
I will go with the Bruins, 28-20.
Madonna vs. Man
There is nothing in Madonna's armor that says Man will score more than eight points.
There is nothing in the Blue Dons' armor that says they won't score a minimum of three touchdowns.
For that reason, and a lot more, I really like Madonna's chances in the Class A title game at 7 p.m.
The Blue Dons lost in the semifinals two years ago ... lost in the state championship game last year ... and that leaves a natural progression this year.
The Madonna kids hate to lose.
They had no fun last year on the Island and look to change that.
The Blue Dons enter tonight's contest relatively healthy and story is Chris Eloi has been cleared to play. He's been out since Oct. 3 with a broken ankle.
Few gave Madonna a chance against Steubenville Catholic Central.
Even fewer gave the Blue Dons any chance of staying with Wheeling Central, let alone actually beating that team.
I was at both games and Madonna was the better team on both sides of the ball in each game.
The Blue Dons held the Crusaders to 49 yards rushing on 30 attempts and the Maroon Knights to 99 yards on 31 chances.
In those numbers, tell me what you see that will allow the Hillbillies to be successful tonight running the ball?
That is not to say Man is not a good team, because it obviously is. I just cannot see a team running on the Dons.
But, that's why you play the game on turf and not on paper.
That being said, I will take the Blue Dons, 34-6.
(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)