CHAPMANVILLE — After two years of not making it to the Class AA playoffs, the Chapmanville Regional High School football team looks to turn the corner this fall.
The Tigers went 4-6 two years ago to end a string of six straight winning seasons and five straight playoff appearances.
Last year, Chapmanville rose to 5-5, narrowly falling in two games to Man (26-22) and Mingo Central (20-14).
Had those games flipped, the Tigers might have made it back to the post-season.
Practices began for the Tigers back on Aug. 4 and the team is optimistic. With plenty of starters back on both sides of the ball, including a few marquee names, the Tigers have hope.
The overall numbers are slightly down and that’s cause for some concern with 11th-year head coach George Barker.
“We have about 45 out,” Barker said. “The numbers are a little bit down at this point but it’s not too bad. In order for us to run a full JV schedule, we need about 10 more. It makes it hard to play for both nights, trying to get all of the positions filled out there on the field. We’ll take that number though. It’s not bad for a Double-A program. I read where Hundred High School has had to drop football because they didn’t have enough participation. We’ll take 45.”
As of late last week, Barker said his team is right about where he thought they would be.
“We kind of make a plan to have so much of our defense installed by a certain date and so much of our offense so we can have everything in by the first game,” he said. “We’re right on schedule.”
The first few days of practice it was hot after a slight cooler spell in late July.
Barker said it’s also hard to practice when you don’t have the pads on. Teams were allowed to put on the pads late last week. Contact was allowed to begin on Tuesday.
“It’s hard to practice when you first start out in shorts,” Barker said. “Sometimes there are collisions. People that made these runs don’t understand in order for us to practice we have kids in T-shirts in shorts and they could slip on the wet grass and collide. I wish they would at least let us put the shoulder pads on. It’s going well, though. Friday was the first day in pads and Tuesday was the first day of contact.”
Chapmanville has two preseason scrimmages.
The first one is this Saturday at Scott High School in Madison against Class AA state runner-up Wayne in the Cardinal Conference Gridorama. Game time is 5:45 p.m.
Then on Friday, Aug. 22, the Tigers play host to Class AAA Lincoln County in a 7 p.m. preseason game.
The regular season opener is Aug. 29 at Sissonville.
“We open up the preseason with Wayne and we usually end the season with them,” Barker said. “Maybe if we start off with them we will be a little bit better prepared. We lost our opener last year to Sissonville and maybe we were overconfident the first game. We’re going to get a good test early.”
Barker said his team is showing signs of coming together.
“I think this team has the opportunity to be a team,” he said. “If they can play together as a team like I think they will only good things are going to happen. I think that’s the secret to our success.”
The Tigers lost 13 seniors to graduation, including: Jordan Toler (QB/DB); Austin Frye (WR/DB); Brady Cox (WR/DB); Nick Brumfield (WR/LB); Jackie Johnson (RB/DB); Chaysen Coleman (WR/DB); Paul Workman (RB/DL); Matt Chapman (RB/LB); Justin Hensley (OL/DL); Tyler Brewster (OL/DL); Gabe Maynard (OL/DL); Chad Maynard (WR/DB); and Jody Frye (RB/LB).
Cox was Chapmanville top wide receiver last season as he made 48 grabs for 746 yards and eight touchdowns.
Lots of key Tigers and starters are back, however.
Barker said Chapmanville has seven starters returning on offense and eight on defense.
Leading the offense is junior quarterback Alex Berry, who completed 88-of-152 passes last season (57.9 percent) for 1,276 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his first year as the starter. Berry led the Cardinal Conference in passing yards in 2013.
Feature tailback and senior Devin Wiley is also back. Last season, Wiley rushed for 1,021 yards on 185 carries (5.5 ypc.) with nine rushing TDs and three more as a receiver. Wiley also had nine catches for 238 yards and three touchdowns — an average of 26.4 yards per grab.
Tanner Dillon, who ran 31 times for 128 yards last season, is also back.
Chapmanville’s top returning receiver is Zac Casto, a senior who snared 18 passes for 327 yards last season (18.2 ypc.) with five touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball leading tackler Matt Dingess is back. He made 59 solo tackles and 22 assists last year for 81 total. Casto (80 total tackles) is also back as well as Michael Hall (60 tackles) and Dillon (62 tackles). Dingess also had a team-high four sacks last season.
Chapmanville has a new opponent on the schedule with an Oct. 3 non-conference game at Mount View. The Class AA Golden Knights, which have struggled in recent years, replace James Monroe. Mount View and Chapmanville last played each other in the mid-2000s.
“We dropped James Monroe and we filled them in with Mount View,” Barker said. “We’ve played them in the past and they are one of the few Double-A schools left here in the southern part of the state. An hour and a half trip beats a four-hour trip. That’s a pretty good deal for us.”
Chapmanville begins the season with four conference contests. After the opener with the Sissonville Indians, the Tigers play host to Herbert Hoover on Sept. 5. Then it’s at Scott on Sept. 12 before hosting the Poca Dots on Sept. 19.
The Tigers then have three straight non-conference games — Sept. 26 at county rival Logan, Oct. 3 at Mount View and Oct. 10 at home against county foe Man.
CRHS then closes out the season with three Cardinal games — Oct. 17 at Mingo Central, Oct. 24 at home against Tolsia and Oct. 31 against Wayne at home.
Chapmanville’s trip to Mingo Central and Buck Harless Stadium is the first time the Tigers will play the Miners on their home field. Last year, CRHS played Poca in the Cardinal Conference Gridorama on Mingo Central’s Field Turf.
Barker said the 2014 schedule is again very tough.
“Anybody can beat anybody in this conference, so you have to strap it up and get ready to play,” he said.
NOTE: There will be a preseason look at the Man Hillbillies in Thursday’s Logan Banner print edition and on line at: www.loganbanner.com. All three county football teams will be previewed Aug. 26, 27, 28 in the sports section and in the regional high school football preview edition.
Regional High School
Aug. 29: *at Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 5: *Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 12: *at Scott, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 19: *Poca, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 26: at Logan, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 3: at Mount View, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 10: Man, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 17: *at Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 24: *Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 31: *Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 7: OPEN DATE
* Cardinal Conference game
Regional High School
Football Results (5-5)
Aug. 30: *Sissonville, L 22-40
Sept. 6: *at Herbert Hoover, W 24-18
Sept. 13: *Scott, W 20-13
Sept. 20: *at Poca, W 34-31
Sept. 27: Logan (Hall of Fame Game), L 14-27
Oct. 4: James Monroe (Homecoming), W 36-0
Oct. 11: at Man, L 22-26
Oct. 18: *Mingo Central, L 14-20
Oct. 25: *at Tolsia, W 34-20
Nov. 1: *at Wayne, L 36-64
Nov. 8: OPEN DATE
*Cardinal Conference game