CHAPMANVILLE — The youthful Chapmanville Regional High School football team seems to be turning the corner.
After three straight losses to begin the season, the Tigers have won two straight.
Last week’s nail-biting 14-13 homecoming win over Scott put the Tigers at 2-3 overall and 2-3 in the Cardinal Conference.
The Tigers will try to even things up on Friday night with a win at Herbert Hoover (2-3, 2-2).
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Herbert Hoover’s Joe Eddie Cowley Field at Falling Rock, W.Va.
The Huskies lost 43-7 to Class AA No. 15-ranked Sissonville last week and trail 8-4 to Chapmanville in the all-time series. The Tigers have won three out of the last four meetings with Hoover, including last year’s 46-13 win at home.
Chapmanville coach Rob Dial said his young team keeps improving and that’s all that he can ask for at this point.
“We’re in a much better position now than we were in the first half of the season,” Dial said. “Our younger players are maturing. Once you play the first half of the season, if you are a freshman, we look at you as a sophomore now. Our younger guys have that experience and know what to expect and that’s showing up on Friday nights. It’s nice to be on a very small winning streak and hope to keep that going.”
The Huskies led 7-0 in last week’s game as Nathan Harper took a handoff and raced down field for a 68-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
It was all Indians after that as Sissonville led 17-7 at halftime and would then add 26 more second half points in coasting to victory.
The Huskies fumbled the ball away five times and were 5-0 in the giveaway category.
“Ball security, that’s the first thing,’’ said Huskies coach Tim Meyer told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “And missed tackles. We had them wrapped up several times and let them go. We gambled a couple times, and we got beat. It is what it is.’’
Herbert Hoover quarterback Nick Grayam was 5 of 11 passing for 94 yards with three completions going to top target Harper for 51 yards.
Ben Kee, Hoover’s 1,000-yard rusher and top linebacker from last year, returned to the sidelines after missing the two previous games with an injury, but was held to 25 yards rushing on six attempts. He made several tackles on defense, however.
“I think they are a very solid football team that has a deceiving record,” Dial said. “They have two losses by one touchdown each and the two teams they defeated are the same two teams that we defeated. Hoover and Chapmanville are similar in style of play but I think that we throw it a little bit more than they do. We have many similarities and I think it will be a competitive game.”
Dial said the Tigers must be able to hold the Huskies’ rushing attack at bay.
“Ben Kee is one of their primary running backs and one of their best linebackers,” he said. “They’ve not had him for three weeks but he did play last week. We expect him to play this week and that will change the dynamics and give them more options on offense. Hoover runs a veer option offense traditionally but they are going to a more power offense this year it seems like so we’ll have to be very disciplined.”
CRHS is led by senior quarterback Chase Berry, who was 12 of 20 passing for 119 yards last week. He also rushed for 38 yards and two TDs.
On the season, Berry is 61 of 95 passing (64.2 percent) for 667 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception. He’s also the Tigers’ leading rusher with 67 carries for 394 yards and six scores.
Josh Bumgarner has 53 rushes for 241 yards and two TDs. Jaxson Turner has 105 yards on the season and a score.
Waylon Hensley is Berry’s top target with 27 catches for 391 yards and two TDs. Freshman Brody Dalton has 22 grabs for 218 yards and two scores.
“We had just 41 offensive plays last week against Scott. We had good balance with 21 runs and 20 passes but we need to up the production,” Dial said. “We hope to be better in all phases of the game.”
Caleb Whitt is Chapmanville’s top tackler with 41 total stops. Josh Atwood and Bumgarner each have 37 tackles. Bumgarner also has a pair of fumble recoveries.
“The design of our defense is for our linebackers to make the bulk of the tackles,” Dial said. “I’m happy with the progress of our linebackers. We’ve moved Josh Atwood around some. We had to move him up to the line of scrimmage last week. He’s big enough and strong enough to do that. Josh Bumgarner knows where the football is going. He has football savvy. Caleb Whitt continues to get better with each and every game. Our defensive linemen I thought also played very well last week. Our defense is getting better each and every week. For us to have a chance in the second half of the season it will start with good defensive play.”
Evan Plumley has 26 total tackles, two sacks and a caused fumble. Turner has 24 tackles and Nate Walsh 22 stops and two sacks. Colby Collins has 25 tackles.
Kicker Xavier Trump is 4 of 4 in extra point kicks this season and 0 of 1 in field goal attempts. Berry has punted 16 times for an average of 34 yards per boot.
Chapmanville has a chance to go 3-3 and reach the psychological .500 barrier. After playing the Huskies, the Tigers would then head into the bye week on Oct. 11 with games against winless teams Wayne and Logan to follow. CRHS closes out with two home games against tough opponents Mingo Central and Man.
“We’ve been here before in previous seasons,” Dial said. “This is a very important game and a difficult game going up to Herbert Hoover. It’s going to be a tough environment. If we are fortunate to get a win that would put us at 3-3 and give us a little bit of excitement going into the off week.”