Prep football: Coach expects Cougars to stay on task
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Capital's playoff chances got an aftershock of a boost this week, when it was announced by the Secondary School Activities Commission that Elkins will forfeit its seven wins because the Tigers used an ineligible player through the course of the 2012 season.
The news came on the heels of the Cougars' 35-13 win last week against rival George Washington (6-2), and in theory moves Capital (5-3) up to No. 15 in the current SSAC Class AAA playoff ratings.
The Tigers are currently ranked eighth, but will likely see their wins turned to forfeit losses before the next set of rankings come out on Tuesday.
Still, there are two critical games remaining on the Capital schedule, including tonight's home tilt against No. 10 Beckley (6-3).
The Cougars finish the regular season next week at No. 3 Huntington (7-1).
"If we can keep the ball out of their quarterback's hands, I think we should be all right," Capital Coach Jon Carpenter said in reference to Flying Eagles senior Andrew Johnson. "They've got a lot of speed, like always, but if we keep from making mistakes I like our chances."
Johnson, at 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds, remains one of the state's more unheralded stars even after being named to the Class AAA All-State team as a punter in 2011.
He has run for 756 yards and 11 touchdowns while also completing 63 of 143 passes for 903 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Senior Ramon Edwards has 731 rushing yards and four touchdowns for Beckley.
Carpenter said a key for Capital is trusting its talent.
"There's not a lot of Xs and Os to it," he said with a laugh. "Honestly, we ran about four different plays against GW. That's all."
Carpenter is not in a hurry to fix what isn't broken. Sophomore Kashuan Haley leads the Cougars with 700 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, and has found his way to the end zone six other times by way of pass receptions, interception returns and kick returns.
Junior James Richmond has four more carries than Haley (77 to Haley's 73) and has 657 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
The third-year coach said he does not expect a letdown after his team beat its archrival for the first time in their last seven meetings.
"I haven't noticed anything different this week at practice. We've had good practices, so I think the kids are pretty well grounded in that respect," he said.
Capital is ranked seventh in the latest Daily Mail Class AAA poll. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at University of Charleston Stadium
In other area games (rankings reflect Daily Mail Poll positions):
St. Francis DeSales, Ohio (5-4) at Class AAA No. 6 George Washington (6-2) - The Patriots will play their first game without All-State linebacker Dustin Crouser in the lineup since 2009, when he broke into the starting lineup as a strong safety. The University of Charlotte recruit tore his ACL against Capital last week and is out for the season.
That leaves 2011 Kennedy Award winner Ryan Switzer as the sole established producer among the GW starting lineup. Switzer, who was held out of the end zone last week for the first time in a game since 2010, has rushed for 1,654 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2012.
The Stallions are a Class AA equivalent school from Columbus, Ohio, that GW added to its schedule to replace Lincoln County this season. DeSales has losses to Gahanna Lincoln (7-2), New Albany (7-2), Ryle, Ky. (3-6) and Columbus Bishop Watterson (6-3).
Riverside (1-7) at Class AAA No. 3 Huntington (7-1) - The Warriors have lost seven straight since a season-opening win against St. Albans. Still, the pass-catch combination of quarterback Trevor Rumberg (1,424 yards passing) and Marcus Reed (778 yards, seven touchdowns) remains productive.
Huntington has relied on numerous backs and a stingy defense for its success this season. Fullback Paden Christian leads the Highlanders with 603 rushing yards while quarterback Mark Shaver has added 508 yards on the ground.
Nitro (2-6) at Class AAA No. 9 Spring Valley (5-3) - The Timberwolves rolled up 643 rushing yards last week in a 55-27 rout of host Hurricane. Tonight, they face the area's most giving run defense when the Wildcats visit Huntington.
Spring Valley fullback Elijah Wellman leads the Timberwolves with 1,198 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. Nitro quarterback Chris Moody has thrown for 1,471 yards, with 866 of them going to senior receiver Ethan Clark.
Class A No. 4 Buffalo (7-1) at Willow Wood Symmes Valley, Ohio (7-2) - The Bison travel into Ohio for a primer game before their season-ending rivalry game against No. 2 Wahama a week from now. Buffalo quarterback Levi Jordan has thrown for 1,345 yards, 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions this season, while junior Laythen Good has proven to be one of the most valuable backs in the area.
Good has 650 rushing yards, 515 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns.
The Vikings are led by running back Alec Harrell, who has 729 rushing yards and 11 scores.
South Charleston (5-4) at Parkersburg (4-4) - Both teams need a win to keep their Class AAA playoff hopes alive, with the Black Eagles coming off a stunning upset to Ripley (4-5) a week ago that changed the complexion of tonight's matchup with the Big Reds from one that could help gain them home-field advantage in the playoffs to one - with a loss - that would eliminate them from contention.
Freshman quarterback Kentre Grier continued his impressive season in last week's loss, and has thrown for 1,312 yards, 14 touchdowns and an interception since taking over as starter on Sept. 21. Junior Kevin Forrest leads the area with 919 receiving yards on 40 catches.
Parkersburg senior Adam Lindamood leads the Big Reds with 935 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Logan (6-2) at Hurricane (5-3) - In a rematch of what was at the time a stunning Logan upset near the end of the 2011 regular season, these teams square off with major playoff implications.
The game will feature two of the area's top passers in Hurricane junior Austin Hensley (1,748 yards and 19 touchdowns) and Logan senior Chris Marcum (1,537 yards, 17 touchdowns).
St. Albans (2-7) at Winfield (3-5) - The Red Dragons have won two in a row but have struggled against Winfield in recent seasons, losing three consecutive games in the series. St. Albans senior running back Drew Kirby went over the 1,000-yard mark last week in a win at Lincoln County. Tonight, Winfield's Seth Lewis (900 yards) could eclipse the same feat.
Sissonville (4-4) at Poca (2-6) - The Indians are vying for their first Class AA playoff spot since 2007, and need a win tonight to help solidify their chances after a 70-12 win over Sherman last week.
Poca has lost five straight games after winning two of its first three this season.
Other games include Class AA No. 4 Robert C. Byrd (8-1) at Class AA No. 6 Scott (7-1), Calhoun County (2-6) at Clay County (4-4), Lincoln County (0-8) at River View (4-4), Class AA No. 8 Roane County (5-3) at Wirt County (6-2), Ravenswood (2-6) at Class A No. 8 St. Marys (7-1), Midland Trail (5-3) at Valley (7-1), Class AA No. 1 Wayne (8-0) at Chapmanville (4-4) and Meadow Bridge (6-2) at Sherman (1-7).
Point Pleasant (6-2) is at Oak Glen (4-4) on Saturday. Herbert Hoover (1-8) and Ripley are idle this week.