POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Proof that hard work pays off in the long run.
Dakotah Booth and Andrew Roach will be fulfilling lifelong dreams together as both Point Pleasant seniors signed letters of intent with the West Virginia State University football program in late February while be recognized for their accomplishments during a celebratory gathering on Wednesday, March 15, in the PPJSHS Commons Area.
Both Booth and Roach — who have five varsity letters between them as members of the Big Blacks gridiron program — will be continuing their football careers as members of the NCAA Division II Yellow Jackets in the Mountain East Conference.
Booth — a three-year letterwinner primarily for his long-snapping abilities — is headed to WVSU to serve in the same capacity, while Roach — a two-year letterwinner as a defensive end — will be competing for a spot at either outside linebacker or defensive end.
While classmates like Seth Stewart — a Louisiana State University signee — and Grant Safford — a West Virginia Wesleyan signee — garnered most of the attention during the 2016 gridiron campaign, it was efforts from players like Booth and Roach that helped PPHS extend its playoff run to 10 consecutive seasons.
And although most people in the state may not be fully aware of what these two young men brought to the Big Blacks during their careers, PPHS football coach Dave Darst noted that the Yellow Jackets are getting a pair of blue-collar athletes that will do whatever it takes to make WVSU better than it was before.
“I’m really excited for both of them because I think West Virginia State is a great fit for both of them, and I also think both of them going together will help in the transition process,” Darst said. “Coach (John) Pennington is trying to rebuild the program and he wants area kids to help with that rebuild, and these are two kids that can thrive in that kind of setting. They may have to wait a year or two and work their way in, but neither one of these kids is afraid to work so that they can make contributions.
“They are really good kids and good students, and both will be getting a quality education while also playing football. We are very proud of both of them and wish them nothing but the best as they move forward to West Virginia State.”
Booth — with his long-snapping abilities — is more likely to see playing time early on in his career, and the WVSU staff has made him aware to be ready to step in and contribute from day one.
Booth — who stand 5-foot-11 and weighs 210 pounds — is still a bit shocked that this dream opportunity has become a reality, but he is also looking forward to what the next four or five years can be as a Yellow Jacket.
“I can’t even really begin to think of how I got to this point, but it is a great feeling to be headed to college to play football,” Booth said. “When I started playing when I was younger, I did whatever I could just to get on the field — and being a long-snapper was the one thing that I always seemed to do well. It’s taken a lot of hard work on my part, but I’m very fortunate to have lettered three times on three playoff teams at Point Pleasant and now I’m fulfilling my oldest dream to be a college football player. The work, all of it, was worth it.”
Roach — who recorded 85 tackles, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries during his only year as a starter at PPHS — is also thrilled about having four or five more years to play football. Roach — who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 200 pounds — also credits his coaches for helping make this dream a reality.
“I’m pretty excited about this opportunity, but this would not have happened without having some great coaches and great teammates to help me along since I started playing,” Roach said. “It’s an unexplainable feeling to know that I’ll be playing college football, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was young. I am really looking forward to having this opportunity while also getting a quality education.”
Both Roach and Booth currently hold 3.8 grade-point averages at Point Pleasant, and both also earned at least one varsity letter in other sports. Booth lettered as a member of the track team as a sophomore, while Roach was a four-year letterwinner in wrestling — including a third-place finish at state in the 195-pound weight class a few weeks back.
Roach plans on majoring in Education at WVSU and Booth is focusing on Exercise Physiology while at school.
As excited as Booth is about this awaiting endeavor, he believes that having a classmate and a good friend there with him will only add to the enjoyment of playing college football.
Booth also feels that Point Pleasant has done a solid job in preparing both of them for the future.
“It will be a big plus to have Andrew there with me, especially that first year. We have a lot of new things to learn, but we will have each other to lean on through it,” Booth said. “I think Andrew would agree that Point Pleasant has done a very good job of preparing us for college football. Coach Darst and his staff have always stressed the importance of hard work both in season and in the offseason, and it has made a difference in the players that we are today. There is more hard work to be done, but we have learned how to work hard over the last few years and we aren’t going to stop now.”
Roach realizes that getting on the field may take a little longer than Booth, but it won’t be in different than what he had to go through to get on the field in high school.
But, after having a senior year like Roach has enjoyed, he says he’s prepared to do it all again — especially in seeing how things have worked out.
“The thing about hard work is that it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to continue to put the effort in every day. If you are willing to see the work through on a consistent basis, you will eventually get the results you are looking for,” Roach said. “I’ve worked really hard for four years so that I could be a starter, which happened my senior year. That one year on the field was enough to earn this opportunity, so I do feel that all of the work has paid off.
“In heading to college, there will be more work to put in if I want to get on the field — and I’m prepared to do whatever is needed to make that happen. I also think having a good friend to lean on there like Dakotah will help if things start to get a little tough. I’m very excited that he is going to be a Yellow Jacket too.”
Located in Institute within Kanawha County, WVSU was originally founded in 1891 as the West Virginia Colored Institute and later changed the school’s name to West Virginia State College in 1921.
Andrew is the son of John and Traci Roach of Point Pleasant. Dakotah is the son of Brian Booth and Serena Young, both of whom reside in Point Pleasant.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.