MAN — Is this the year?
Is this the year the Chapmanville Tigers finally beat the Wayne Pioneers in a high school football game?
It could be in the cards as the Chapmanville Regional High School football team hosts the winless Pioneers on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Chapmanville’s Tiger Stadium.
Wayne, normally a football powerhouse in the Class AA ranks, is suffering through an uncharacteristically bad season as the Pioneers come into the game at 0-6 overall and 0-5 in the Cardinal Conference. Wayne suffered a 17-0 setback to Herbert Hoover last week, while the Tigers were idle.
Chapmanville (3-3, 3-3), which observed a bye week last week, hasn’t beaten Wayne since taking back-to-back wins over the Pioneers in 1990 and 1991.
The Tigers trail 21-2 to Wayne in the all-time series and have dropped the last 15 meetings, but that long losing skid could come to an end this week as Chapmanville will be favored to win the ballgame.
The last three years, Chapmanville came close, falling by less than a touchdown each time. Last year, the Pioneers eked out a 20-14 win. Wayne beat Chapmanville 14-12 in 2017 and 29-27 in 2016.
Wayne often times routed the Tigers but there were other close calls as well.
In 2010, the Pioneers squeaked out a 16-14 win over the Tigers. The 2008 meeting was also competitive as Wayne took advantage of a Chapmanville special teams blunder and prevailed 25-13.
Chapmanville last beat Wayne in 1991, taking a 19-18 win. The year before, the Tigers won 22-6 over the Pioneers.
So is this the year?
Chapmanville coach Rob Dial hopes so.
“We’re happy to be 3-3 but we still are not content,” he said. “We still have got a lot of work left to do. We have four games left to go and we hope to win this week. Wayne is a formidable opponent but they’ve endured a difficult season. It started with the loss of one of their best players in a tragic car accident. That was a devastating tragedy for the entire school and community. In addition to that they had a season-ending injury to their quarterback Gunner Harmon who was by far one of their best players. It seems like everything that could go against them has went against them this season. We have a lot of respect for Coach (Tom) Harmon, the team and the program.”
Dial said his team is not taking the Pioneers lightly.
“We know that they might not have won a game yet but they are still a very dangerous team,” he said. “They’re a team that will play you hard and will give you the maximum amount of effort. To be honest, I believe that they are a team that believes that they can win this game against Chapmanville. None of those players or coaches have ever lost to Chapmanville and they are not going to go in expecting anything different this Friday night. We are going to have to play well to win.”
Dial said last week’s off week was good for the team.
“The off week was good,” he said. “It came at a good time because it allows those bumps and bruises to heal up. We’re probably going to be as healthy going into the this game as we’ve been in a long time. Hunter Lambert is the one player that we might not have back. His knee is still giving him problems. We worked a couple of days last week to get better.”
Wayne was coming off last year’s 8-3 season in which the Pioneers shared the Cardinal Conference championship with Poca and Mingo Central, The Pioneers lost 28-8 to Keyser in the first round of the playoffs, so Wayne enters Friday’s game on a seven-game losing streak.
It’s been a long season for Wayne, which lost 38-0 to Class AAA county rival Spring Valley in the season opener.
Things haven’t got any better as Wayne has since taken losses to Mingo Central (56-16), Winfield (37-0), Nitro (64-56), Scott (27-18) and last week’s 17-0 blanking at the hands of the Herbert Hoover Huskies.
The Pioneers had just 27 offensive plays last week, two first downs and 48 yards of total offense. Wayne had only 30 yards on the ground on 21 carries.
The Huskies’ Ben Kee ran 28 times for 184 yards and had more carries than Wayne had plays.
Wayne is led by running backs Jon Chinn and Aaron Adkins. Pioneers’ QB Preston Childs was only 2 of 6 passing for 18 yards last week.
“We’ve watched them three times on film and they play good football at times,” Dial said. “But it seems like they have a turnover or a guy misses a tackle or the other team makes a great play. They’ve been in just about every game. Even in the Mingo game before their quarterback got hurt it as a 16-6 game. Then the wheels sort of fell off for them.”
CRHS is led by senior QB Chase Berry, who is 73 of 112 passing for 816 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception on the season.
Berry is also the Tigers’ leading rusher with 88 carries for 512 yards and six TDs. Josh Bumgarner has 68 carries for 308 yards and four scores.
Waylon Hensley is Chapmanville’s top wide receiver with 31 catches for 471 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman Brody Dalton has 27 grabs for 279 yards and two TDs.
On defense, Caleb Whitt has 48 total tackles to lead the team. Josh Atwood and Bumgarner each have 45 tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries. Colby Collins has 33 tackles, a sack and a caused fumble.
Evan Plumley has 31 tackles, two sacks and a caused fumble. Jaxson Turner has 29 tackles. Nate Walsh has 30 tackles a trio of sacks. Elijah Stollings has 25 tackles. Alex Freeman has 20 stops. David Peluso has 20 tackles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions. Kicker Xavier Trump is 6 of 8 in extra point kicks and 0 for 1 in field goal attempts. Berry is averaging 33.4 yards per punt.
Dial said he’s happy his team did not throw in the towel after losing its first three games.
“I’m really proud of our guys. We started 0-3,” Dial said. “A lot of people had written us off. I’m proud of our players. Our seniors have really stepped up and have stayed steady. Our freshmen and sophomores are really coming along. Two weeks ago when we wont at Herbert Hoover that was a mature win the way we played and the way we kept our composure. I was very proud of our team. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.