The Mingo Central High School football team opens their 2014 season with a tough non-conference game as they travel to Wyoming East on Friday night.
Coach Yogi Kinder’s squad returns several starters on both sides of the football.
However, he knows that opening on the road against the Warriors, who finished 9-2 last season and are coming off back-to-back playoff seasons, will be a tough task.
“This is a very big game for the Miners. We are treating this game like a playoff game,” Kinder said. “It is a very tough opener with two top eight teams playing on the first weekend of the season. We’e got to keep away from mistakes. Usually the first game is tough for everyone. Flags are a big thing the opening week. Staying healthy is our biggest thing right now. We are banged up with several starters nicked up from practice and scrimmages.”
Kinder said Mingo Central has battled injuries.
“It has been hard to get many reps in practice this week because of injuries,” he said.
Kinder said East is very good.
“They have several starters back this year and a lot of good players returning. They have some size. Their tackles are very large at 6-5 and 6-6,” he said.
Junior Stevie Hammond will start at quarterback for MCHS. This is his third season as the starting signal caller. His experience and maturity should be much better this year.
Several players should get carries out of the backfield. They include seniors Chance Lester and Chase Justice, who both saw meaningful action last season.
Junior Taylor “T.T.” Thornsbury is expected to see action this year as well. An injury limited his game time last year.
Junior Ethan Collins will likely start at fullback, but he can also play tailback. Senior Corey Sammons is another power back and will see action at fullback. Sammons also is one of the fastest players on the squad.
Sophomore Joey Hunt is another fullback that could see action and provides the Miners with depth.
Junior Stephen Whitt will see time at wide receiver, while sophomores Dalton Sheppard and Isaac Fox both could see action at split end. Kinder said all three are good athletes.
Senior A. J. Grimmett will see time at tight end. Nathaniel Abbott, a junior, will also see time at tight end.
Zach Holt, an All-State lineman, returns to anchor both the offensive and defensive lines. Clay Ellis is another returning lineman that is an All-State candidate. His brother Cole Ellis, a junior, is another starter that returns in 2014.
Wyoming East returns three-year starting quarterback Aaron Griffith. He will be joined in the backfield by Hunter Simmons, Nick Walker and David Powers. Jon Culicerto is the big tight end, while the wideouts are Jacob Dulcie and Casey Saunders.
East also returns several experienced linemen.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. in New Richmond.
Tug Valley opens
NAUGATUCK – The Tug Valley High School football team will hit the road for the first of six away games this season as they travel to Sherman in Boone County on Friday night.
Panthers’ coach Tony Clusky returns several skilled position players and linemen this season and hopes to have a winning season.
Clusky said the big key to an opening win will be no turnovers.
Protecting the football, especially on the road, is essential.
“We need to play hard and to be physical,” Clusky said, “But I want them to have fun. We’ll need to get off to a good start. Our history is not good when we fall behind a couple of touchdowns.”
Clusky and his staff return junior quarterback-linebacker Tyler Conley and senior running back/wideout Aaron Copley. Senior fullback-linebacker Philip Lucas is also a key returning starter for the Panthers.
Clusky also had a young player that may see some action right away.
“I’m very impressed with the play of freshman Jeremy Dillon,” Clusky said. “We will use him at several positions.”
Dillon can play quarterback, split end and will see playing time on defense.
“Our seniors need to step up and be leaders. We must be solid in all special teams also,” Clusky said.
Tug Valley also has an experienced line with some size that should help down in the trenches. Seniors returning for their final season are linemen Dalton Spaulding (5-foot-9, 240 pounds) and Dwayne Marcum (6-4, 220). Junior Dusty Mills (6-5, 270)) is another starter that returns and has needed experience.
Clusky said several other players are battling for starting positions and playing time.
Corbin Oliver, Chad Hundley and Clay Moore are players that saw plenty of action in 2013. Austin Baisden and Calvin Blankenship are in the mix for significant time on the field.
On offense, look for Clusky to run the Wing-T, which he has liked for years. But, he may thrown in a wrinkle or two this season, depending on the situation.
“We may spread it some. We can go with the power I,” Clusky said.
The Tide is coached by J.D Fairchild. Sherman has had their ups and downs the past few seasons in football.
They hope to right the ship this season starting with a win over Tug Valley.
Game time is slated to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Sherman High School in Seth.