The tables have turned in Chapmanville and for the Barker family.
For three years, from 2013-15, James Barker served as an assistant coach under his father George Barker on the Chapmanville Regional High School football staff.
Now, those rolls are reversed.
The younger Barker heads into his first season as head coach of the Tigers, while George Barker will serve under his son as an assistant coach.
“It’s very neat,” said James Barker, just 35 years old and one of the youngest head coaches in the state. “I’m not sure how many more years he’s going to do this. This may be his last year. I’m thankful that we’ve shared this kind of bond with each other. Not a lot of players and family members get to share that kind of bond with their parents. I’m blessed that we get to do this with each other.”
George Barker, also the current CRHS Athletics Director, coached the Tigers from 2004-15 following a stint at Logan High School, where James was a player for his dad for the Wildcats and a 2003 graduate.
James Barker is the third generation of his family to become the head coach of the Chapmanville Tigers.
George Barker was head coach at Chapmanville for 12 seasons from 2004-15 and led the Tigers to six playoff appearances, including a Class AA state semifinal berth in 2013.
James Barker’s grandfather is the late Fletcher “Shag” Barker, a legendary former football coach of the Tigers. Both George Barker and Fletcher Barker are members of the Chapmanville Athletic Hall of Fame.
“This is a big honor for me, stepping into a program where my grandfather was one of the first coaches at Chapmanville,” James Barker said. “He was the third coach ever at Chapmanville. Also a honor following in the footsteps of my dad who came over from Logan who coached here for a decade. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine. There’s arguments and there are discussions.”
George Barker’s coaching tree is beginning to widen significantly.
“If you look at Logan, Gary Mullins coached under my dad and was a player for my dad,” James Barker said. “Jimmy Sheppard was a player for my dad. I was a player and a coach for my dad. There’s a lot of players and coaches who got their start with my father. That coaching tree is starting to extend a little bit. Andrew Workman is now coaching at West Virginia State. Brandon Adkins played for my dad and now he’s the coach at Logan Middle School. The list goes on and on.”
He brings a wealth of coaching experience to the table for the Tigers, being mostly the Chapmanville Offensive Coordinator in recent years.
Last year, however, he moved over to Defensive Coordinator, trading places with Bo Berry, who moved over to the offense after being the Tigers’ DC for many years.
Barker replaces outgoing coach Rob Dial, who led the Tigers the last four seasons to a 21-19 mark before resigning in December. The Tigers were 5-5 last year.
Barker’s last head coaching stint was when he was the head coach at Chapmanville Middle School in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He is a 2010 graduate of Marshall University.
The younger Barker said he learned a lot from his dad.
“A learned a couple big things from my dad that kind of molded me,” Barker said. “Number one, you have to treat everyone like they are your own and secondly, you have to treat everybody fair. If you do those two things I think that you are going to be OK. In this day and age with the instant gratification and with the way kids are with everything kids will find something where they feel welcomed and loved. We want to know that they are loved and that they are respected. I think that’s the number one thing that you can do. It’s not all about X’s and O’s. You want the players to take something away from the experience. I think most of the football players who have played at Chapmanville Regional would say that they felt that love and that respect.”
Barker hopes to lead the Tigers back to the playoffs, something that had eluded Dial in his four-year run as Chapmanville went 5-5, 6-4, 5-5 and 5-5 in those years.
Last year’s 5-5 record looked good considering the Tigers started off the season 0-3 with losses to Sissonville (24-8), Poca (48-7) and Winfield (48-13). Chapmanville then reeled off five straight wins over Nitro (48-25), Scott (14-13), Herbert Hoover (32-7) and Wayne (7-6) to get into the playoff chase. The win over Wayne was the first for a Chapmanville varsity team since 1991.
CRHS then closed out with losses to Mingo Central (49-14) and Man (33-8).
Chapmanville’s last playoff berth was in 2015 when the Tigers had home field advantage but lost a 42-14 first-round playoff game to Robert C. Byrd.
Barker made the official announcement on his Facebook page on Tuesday evening. He took the job with heavy hearts following the death of his uncle Raamie Barker, the Chapmanville mayor, who passed away at the age of 73.
The Tigers’ season opener is set for September 4 at home against Cardinal Conference defending champion Poca.
The season was delayed one week due to COVID-19 concerns.
Practices are set to begin on August 17.
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter at @PAdkinsBanner or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.