Internal competition helps to keep Martinsburg as West Virginia’s premier program

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — As Martinsburg begins pursuit of their tenth state championship and their sixth in a row for seasons that were completed, the Bulldogs are once again, deep, talented and experienced. Internal competition in practice can be credited for building players and the program.

“A lot of weeks we talk about, we want to be the best team we play that week is on Tuesday and Wednesday against our scout team,” said Martinsburg head coach Britt Sherman.

Britt Sherman claimed his first title as the head coach of the Bulldogs in 2021 and several returning starters can be found throughout their depth chart.

“That was awesome,” said Martinsburg senior linebacker Kam Shallis. “You always dream of that as a little kid. To do it with all these guys out here just made it ten times more special. It was definitely an awesome experience.”

Both starting quarterbacks have returned. Junior Murphy Clement passed for 15 touchdowns and rushed for 22 more. Senior Ezra Bagent tossed 29 touchdowns and he passed for 2,622 yards.

“They both get us the ball,” said Martinsburg senior wide receiver/defensive back Roman Pierson. “Murphy likes to run a lot, obviously. Ezra likes to throw the ball. They are both good throwers.”

“A lot of people don’t understand how the two-quarterback thing works. But when those guys are cheering for each other, it is exciting. It is really good to see,” Sherman said.

Although the Bulldogs lost a trio of Division I players in Hudson Clement, Jacob Barrick and Braxton Todd to graduation, established running backs and receivers return.

“We have [Xavion] Kendall back. We have [Eric] King back. King had a great game last game,” Sherman said. “With the two quarterbacks and with our receivers, we’ve got Buzz Dover back. He was out all last year with a knee injury. Pierson, [Kashez] Gedeon, [Sirod] Musgrove, Jameer Hunter joins us this year.”

The Bulldog coaching staff must find new starters for interior positions on the line. Leading tackler and future Division I linebacker Kam Shallis returns after making 98 stops as a junior.

“He is the quarterback of our defense,” Sherman said. “He makes sure that everybody is in the right spot. He makes our calls. He flies around and he is real physical.”

In their Super Six victories in 2019 and 2021, special teams were a significant advantage for the Bulldogs and Sherman believes the so-called third phase of the game is emphasized heavily.

“We try to make it a force,” Sherman said. “We really do work on it a lot. Usually, it is at least twenty minutes a day and some days more. We try to simplify it so our athletes can move around as fast as they can and make as many plays as they can on that side of the ball.”

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