CHAPMANVILLE — Other than the vaunted Wayne Pioneers, the Chapmanville Regional High School football team probably couldn’t have asked for a tougher Cardinal Conference team to open the season up with than the Sissonville Indians.
The Tigers also have to open up on the road at Sissonville’s place.
Chapmanville and Sissonville are scheduled to kick off the 2014 prep football season with Friday night’s contest at the Sissonville High School football field.
Game time between the Cardinal Conference foes is set for 7:30 p.m.
Chapmanville, led by 11th-year head coach George Barker, is trying to break a two-year playoff-less funk after reaching the Class AA post-season every year from 2007-11.
Sissonville, coming off last year’s 10-2 season and first-round playoff victory, is trying to keep the momentum going this fall.
The Indians were second place in the conference last year behind champ Wayne, which rolled all the way to the Super Six in Wheeling. Sissonville downed league foe Mingo Central, 46-6, last year in the opening round of the playoffs before falling to the Pioneers, 48-7, in the state quarterfinals.
Sissonville, coached by Eddie Smolder, seems to be a program on the up and up.
After an 0-10 doughnut hole in 2010, the Indians were 2-8 in 2011, 5-5 in 2012 and doubled their win total last year.
The Indians were ranked No. 5 in the state in the MetroNews Preseason Power Index.
The Tigers and the Indians have played each other eight teams over the last eight years since Chapmanville joined the Cardinal Conference.
So far it’s an even split with four wins each.
Sissonville, though, has had the upper hand recently, winning 40-22 last year in Chapmanville and also taking a 40-21 win in 2012.
In last year’s meeting, the Indians rolled out to a 21-0 lead and used a ball control offense to outgain the Tigers 333-256 in total yardage. Sissonville had 48 rushes for 255 yards for the game to Chapmanville’s 122 yards on 32 attempts. The Tigers had just 68 yards and ran only 20 plays by halftime.
Barker said Sissonville is very good again this year and will be tough to beat.
“They have a good, solid football team,” he said. “They don’t have any weaknesses. They have good quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and offensive linemen. On defense, they are solid all over. That makes for a good football team. In order for us to win we have to take care of the football and keep them out of the end zone.”
The Indians lost all-state running back Dominic Walker and starting QB Nathan Miller to graduation.
That’s good news for CRHS. Walker scored three TDs last year on the Tigers and Miller threw for 78 yards and a score.
At quarterback, the Indians have sophomore Chance Brown (5-9, 155) and freshman Michael Pinkerton (6-0, 165) battling for the job.
Returning to the Sissonville backfield is junior running back Jared Wilkinson (6-0, 190), who wears a wide receiver-ish number 89.
In last year’s opener at Chapmanville, Wilkinson scored on a toss sweep for a 32-yard touchdown.
Chapmanville is led on offense by junior QB Alex Berry and senior tailback Devin Wiley. Berry led the Cardinal Conference in passing last season and was 14-for-21 passing for 134 yards with two TDs and an interception in the Sissonville game last year. Wiley rushed for more than 1,000 yards a year ago.
The Tigers have several returnees on both sides of the ball.
During the preseason, Chapmanville had just one scrimmage — Aug. 16 against Wayne in the Cardinal Conference Gridorama at Scott High School in Madison.
“I thought that we played decent against Wayne,” Barker said. “We didn’t go in with a game plan, we just wanted to see what our kids could do. I thought physically we played pretty decent against a really good Wayne team. It wasn’t like we scrimmaged against somebody that wasn’t any good. They are the preseason number one team in the state in our division. I thought that we did decent and we learned some things.”
The Tigers were scheduled to scrimmage Lincoln County at home last Friday but the preseason game was cancelled due to heavy rain and thunderstorms.
Some areas along the Tug River and in the West Virginia Coalfields received up to four inches of rain in a matter of three hours, causing mudslides, flooding and power outages.
Barker said Tiger Stadium’s grass was completely soaked and there was no reason to play, particularly if it wasn’t even going to count.
“Unfortunately, our second scrimmage against Lincoln County got cancelled due to field conditions,” Barker said. “Our field was surrounded by water. It wasn’t quite as bad here as it was in Ashland, Kentucky, and other places. We looked at it and it was really wet and there was the forecast for more rain and thunderstorms for the rest of the evening, so we went ahead and called it. You just don’t get better playing in the mud. We thought it was the best to cancel it.”
Barker said it remains to be seen if the cancellation of last week’s scrimmage will help or hinder his team.
“Who knows if cancelling it was good or bad. You just don’t know,” he said. “You just don’t know if you needed that scrimmage to get better but overall, we’ve had a good preseason. Now this week we are getting ready for Sissonville. I think that we will be ready to play.”
Tigers news and notes
* Coach Barker said Tristan Gilman, a 6-0, 295-pound senior lineman, was hurt during practice on Monday and his status is questionable for Friday night’s opener.
“He hurt his knee but we don’t know what his status might be,” Barker said. “We’ve also got some typical bumps and bruises, sore muscles and sore joints and things like that but right now, I don’t think that we have anybody out. We’ll be realatively healthy going into the first game. Maybe this is an advantage to us that we didn’t play that second scrimmage.”
* Chapmanville’s home opener is in Week 2 against Herbert Hoover. The Hall of Fame Game is Sept. 19 at home against Poca. Homecoming is set for Oct. 10 against Man. Senior Night is Oct. 31 at home against Wayne.
* The Tigers are set to unveil a new look to its helmets this season.
“We may sport a new decal,” Barker said. “It’s one of a kind. We are keeping our ‘C’ on one side of the helmets but the other side will be a little bit different.”
* Chapmanville’s JV team plays 11 a.m. on Labor Day at home against Sissonville.
Chapmanville vs. Sissonville
Last 10 years (Tied 4-4):
2013: Sissonville 40, Chapmanville 22
2012: Sissonville 40, Chapmanville 21
2011: Chapmanville 47, Sissonville 7
2010: Chapmanville 45, Sissonville 6
2009: Chapmanville 34, Sissonville 19
2008: Chapmanville 41, Sissonville 19
2007: Sissonville 27, Chapmanville 21 (OT)
2006: Sissonville 34, Chapmanville 14