By Tom Bragg, For Lootpress.com
NITRO, W.Va. – For the entirety of its existence as a Class AA member of the Cardinal Conference, Nitro football has been mostly an afterthought, but that might be about to change.
The Wildcats won just three games in 2022, but have high hopes and expectations for 2023. So far, so good for those hopes and expectations as Nitro, led by junior quarterback Josh Moody, rolled through Class AA and Cardinal Conference rival Poca 56-6 last week to open the season.
Moody’s star shined bright against the Dots, as the Buffalo transfer completed 25 of 32 pass attempts for 420 yards and an astounding eight touchdowns in his first game as a Wildcat. For his efforts, Moody has been named the Lootpress Kanawha Valley Player of the Week for Week 1.
The award is sponsored by Dutch Miller Auto Group.
“[Moody] is amazing and you’re going to see a lot more of that,” Nitro head coach Boom McKinney said. “He puts in a lot of work. We’ve got a great staff that pushes these kids. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Nitro was a Class AAA playoff regular in the 1990s and early 2000s, going 14-0 to win the 1998 state championship as the smallest school in the largest classification, and nearly pulling off another state title in 2005 if not for an overtime fumble by Kennedy Award winner Josh Culbertson in a Super Six loss to Morgantown. In the nearly 20 years since then, however, the bright spots for the Wildcats have been few and far between.
Moody’s arrival is a big part of why this season the expectations are high at Nitro for the first time in a long time. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he threw for more than 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns last season as a sophomore at Class A Buffalo in Putnam County.
He made the move to Nitro for 2023 and was far from the only one to do so. Running backs Eli Littlejohn (St. Albans) and Amellio Miller (South Charleston) are also newcomers for the Wildcats, as well as receivers Malachi Thompson (Sissonville) and Nudy Hall (St. Albans).
All four of those players caught at least one touchdown pass from Moody in the opener at home against Poca last week. Throw in the services of incumbent Wildcats at running back in 6-foot-3, 225 pound Charles Cantrell and 6-4, 200 pound junior receiver Ashton Crouch and Moody has no shortage of options when it comes to talented players he can trust with the ball in Nitro’s suddenly sturdy offensive attack.
“It makes it really fun,” Moody said. “It’s all them. They’re out there making plays. All I’ve got to do is get them the ball and I know they’re going to do great things. It’s amazing having that much talent around me and it makes the game fun.”
This week Nitro hits the road and looks to improve to 2-0 so far this season in the annual Battle of the Bridge just across the Kanawha River at Crawford Field against archrival St. Albans (0-1).
“From the first scrimmage to now, I feel like we’re really coming together really well,” Moody said. “I’m excited to see how it goes [against St. Albans].”
Sherman’s Trey Lester won the Community Choice fan vote with over 34,000 votes. He advances to the Community Choice poll which will be conducted after the regular season concludes. The winner of that poll will be awarded a $500 scholarship by the Lootpress Foundation.
Kanawha Valley Player of the Week winners
Week 1: Josh Moody, Nitro
Community Choice Player of the Week winners
Week 1: Trey Lester, Sherman