CHAPMANVILLE - It doesn't get any easier for the Chapmanville Tigers.
The Chapmanville Regional High School football team, following last Thursday night's season-opening 24-8 loss to Sissonville at Charleston's Laidley Field, have another tough road contest this Friday night as the Tigers (0-1 overall, 0-1 in the Cardinal Conference) travel to Poca (1-0. 1-0) to take on the Dots.
Poca was a 40-28 winner last week over Nitro in its season opener.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Poca High School's O.O. White Stadium.
The Dots, led by all-state running back Ethan Payne, had a breakthrough 2018 season last year, tying for the Cardinal Conference title and advancing to the playoffs with a 9-2 record. Poca had suffered for many years, breaking a 39-game losing streak just two seasons ago.
Payne suffered a fractured hip late last season and had rolled up 1,083 yards on the ground on 110 carries and had scored 17 touchdowns in seven games before being lost for the season. Payne was a First-Team All-State selection.
"Poca really has a good team on both sides of the ball," Chapmanville coach Rob Dial said. "Obviously, the bulk of their headlines are going to go to their running back Ethan Payne. He's as good a running back in Double-A football that I've seen in a long time. He's very strong and fast and very fast for his size. In addition to him the team also has a nice complement of other good skilled positions players with quarterback Jay Cook. He throws the ball real well."
Dial said Poca is good all the way around.
"They also have good receivers," he said. "An underrated part of Poca's ball club is their front line. They surprised us last year how physical they were on both sides of the ball. We have to be ready to match their physicality," Dial said. "They have a good defense and they will come after us. They also have a good kicker. It seemed like every time he kicked the ball against Nitro it went into the end zone. We are playing a pretty good team but like out team too."
With Payne, Poca coach Seth Ramsey has a lot of talent back for this year's version of the Dots, which also returns quarterback Jay Cook.
In addition to depth up front offensively, defensive line depth is also a strength as the Dots go head-to-head in the Cardinal Conference.
Like last season when Payne was lost, the Dots will again be forced to move forward without a key cog after senior Owen McClanahan tore his ACL during the three-week summer period.
The Dots broke a 10-game losing skid to Chapmanville with a 38-8 win over the Tigers at CRHS. The Tigers lead 10-5 in the all-time series. The two teams have played continuously since 2007 as league foes. From 1952-2006 the two teams only met three times.
Chapmanville's team is still a work in progress and the Tigers hope to improve from Week 1 to Week 2 of the season.
The Tigers scored their lone touchdown last week in the fourth quarter as Josh Bumgarner ran in from 19 yards out.
Senior quarterback Chase Berry was 9 of 18 passing for 72 yards with one interception. He had 19 rushes for 120 yards.
Bumgarner had six carries for 30 yards and a touchdown. Josh Atwood had nine attempts for 40 yards. Waylon Hensley caught four passes for 27 yards.
On defense, Atwood led Chapmanville with eight tackles and two assists. Evan Plumley had six solos, two assists and a sack. Bumgarner had six solos and three assists. Caleb Whitt had six solos and one assist.
"We showed some positive signs last week over at Sissonville," Dial said. "We have to preach patience to our fans and to ourselves because we had five guys who played for the first time ever on Friday night and those were five guys who started in key positions who never had played football in a varsity game. With that, it's going to take us a little bit of time to get accustomed to the speed of the game. We need to up our player's intensity on every single play."
Lance Scott was injured a day before last week's Sissonville game and is not expected to play on Friday.
"He's down probably a couple of weeks," Dial said. "He's been one of our outside linebackers and strong safeties."
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter at @PAdkinsBanner or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.