This isn’t how it has been at Morgantown High and Coach John Bowers knows it.

Losses are supposed to be few and far between. OK, you can’t win a state championship every year, and you can’t play deep into the playoffs forever, but a 2-2 record is not exactly what they want or expect.

Or have.

True, the record book says at present the Mohigans are 2-2 as they prepare for the annual meeting with Preston in Kingwood on Friday night, but you can’t even believe the numbers these days.

“We’re not 2-2. We’re 1-3,” said Bowers. “As a football coach, we’re 1-3.”

Certainly you are supposed to accept whatever is given to you in sports, for so little is, but Bowers knows that the opening game that was forfeited to them by Martinsburg is a mirage.

“They beat us and they beat us good,” said Bowers.

At least until the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission rules finally on the forfeit, the game is in Morgantown’s win column, and whether it wants to accept it or not, it’s there.

That still can’t take away the disappointment last week when East Fairmont ruined Morgantown’s chance to build on a victory over West Fairmont.

“We didn’t block very well at all. We’re not a very good blocking team right now … and we don’t tackle too well, either. Unfortunately, those are two pretty important ingredients in playing football,” Bowers said, rather sarcastically.

Block and tackle … ask any coach and he’ll tell you it’s how the game is won.

You can have all the skill players you want, but they only mean victory if someone clears holes for them and, just as importantly, stops the other team so the ball can be placed into those skill players hands.

It hasn’t happened at Morgantown … yet.

Bowers goal this week was to get his young team that faced a killer start with games against Martinsburg, Brooke, East and West Fairmont back to the basics.

That meant it was not exactly a pleasant week.

“We’ve turned up the intensity,” Bowers admitted.

Football coaches prefer to work on technique during the week, put in plays. As for the physicality of the game, they let that come on game night.

“We’ve never tackled in practice here,” Bowers said.

Until now.

“Monday we had a full-scale scrimmage. Tuesday too. That’s how it was all week. I know, you run the risk of getting kids hurt, but at the same time they have to simulate the tough part of the game more often.”

And so this was a week to get tough, to play smash-mouth football the way Morgantown High used to play it and still wants to play it.

“The thing is, our kids are still playing hard. They haven’t abandoned hope. We just have to get better,” Bowers said.

And healthier.

They take a long step in that direction with the return of the fleet Bassam Abulaban, who has been out since the season’s opening kickoff against Martinsburg when he seemed to be breaking clear for a touchdown only to pull a hamstring.

It proved to be a sign of things to come.

“You deal with adversity,” Bowers said. “We have to learn to deal with tough times.”

At the same time, Morgantown still believes it can go far if it can turn matters around.

“If we can run the table and beat the Hawks (crosstown rival University) at the end of the season, we can still win the league,” said Bowers.

That’s something to play for, as if regaining the pride of Morgantown High isn’t enough.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at

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