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High school football: Talent in place, results to follow for Black Eagles

By Nick Brockman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As talent abounds, victories elude South Charleston (1-3), though the Black Eagles continue to work tirelessly toward their playoff dreams.

South Charleston suffered a 28-13 loss Friday at then Class AAA No. 1 Cabell Midland. Now, in Week 5, the task isn't any easier as the Black Eagles host undefeated Capital (3-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

"We're going to start running out of opportunities," SC Coach John Messinger said. "If we're going to be a playoff football team, we're going to have to get something going and get it going quick."

Despite the losses, SC boasts some of the most talented athletes in the Kanawha Valley.

Junior quarterback Jon Alexander took the field against the Knights as the area's top passer with 850 yards.

The receiving corps has several dependable options in Kevin Forrest, Marquel Hampton and Trevond Reese, while A.D. Cunningham and Ken Haynes provide the spark in the backfield.

That talent needs to continue to excel and improve if SC wishes to make a playoff push. The schedule should provide that opportunity.

Beyond Capital, the Black Eagles close the regular season with St. Albans (0-4), Lincoln County (0-4), Nitro (1-3), Ripley (2-2) and Parkersburg (2-2).

Even with a sub-par record, it's not likely teams will overlook SC.

"In the offseason, that's the team we felt like was going to be the best on our schedule," Midland Coach Luke Salmons said of SC. "They had a lot of kids back, and I thought they were pretty good, close to being really good."

Against the Knights, Messinger said the Black Eagles struggled to pick up the blitz. In addition, SC must improve wrapping up the opposition's playmakers, Messinger said.

"The big thing for us right now on defense is tackling," he said. "If we tackle people, we make plays, we go get some three-and-outs, we go sit some people down. Last week at Spring Valley, we didn't tackle anybody. This week (against Midland), we had spurts where we showed signs of being a pretty good defense if we can tackle people. Other times, we just don't seem to get it done."

In between losses to George Washington and Spring Valley, South Charleston defeated Riverside. Even in defeat, the Black Eagles performed strong against the competition.

"If you look at our kids, we make big plays," Messinger said. "It's not that - we're productive offensively. Our numbers are good. We're not getting in the end zone.

"It's just the little things that we've got to fix, but I can tell you right now that these are really good kids, and they're not kids that are ever going to quit, and I can tell you right now come next week we're going to line up and we're going to play our best."

Messinger said he think his team actually matches better against a speedster squad like Capital.

"It seems like it's awful hard for us to line up against a big, physical football team and stop the run," he said. "We can't do it, but we match well with people who have good skills people."

The talent's in place, and so far the players haven't lost focus despite the setbacks, Messinger said.

"They want to win and they want to get into the playoffs, so we got six more opportunities to do it," he said. "We'll see what happens.

Messinger said he's not sure if a 6-4 record would be enough to reach the playoffs. The best bet is to win each one, week by week.

"We're getting into the part of the season now where wins and losses really tally up," he said. "That being said, we just need to start winning football games. Plain and simple, no excuses."


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