SOPHIA, WV (WVNS) – There is a celebratory mood all throughout Southwestern Raleigh County.

The community bustles with pride and excitement about Independence High School’s first-ever football state championship.

“Everybody is just so excited and everybody is just behind these boys – and I’m not talking just in Sophia and just this area, I’m talking all of the surrounding areas,” said Kathy Bertoli of Sophia. “I know a lot of kids from Liberty, Wyoming East, and all of them got behind these kids.”

The Patriots defeated the Herbert Hoover Huskies 42 to 7 on Friday, December 2, 2022, in Wheeling to win states, and send the folks back home into a full-blown celebration.

Sophia City Manager Jeanie White said the title meant a lot to Sophia and the surrounding community.

“We’re excited,” said White. “The boys, the coaches, even the parents behind them, they’ve come a long way. They deserve this and the community has rallied behind them every step of the way. So we’re very proud of them.”

The High school put together a pep rally to celebrate the newly crowned state champs on Friday, Dec. 9, and on Saturday, Dec. 10, the football team will also be honored at the Sophia Christmas Festival.

White said the city already has plans in motion to memorialize the 2022 Independence Patriot football team as part of Sophia’s history.

“Right now the mayor is in the process of trying to contact the department of Highways. We’re wanting to put a sign coming into town to recognize the boys winning the state championship for 2022, and it would be a permanent sign,” White told 59News.

The city plans to install the 2022 AA state football champions sign on Robert C. Byrd Drive, right as you come into town from Route 16.