Prep football: Capital’s Richmond remains a threat
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Capital freshman quarterback Tyhree Pratt and sophomore utility player Kashaun Haley have been putting up big numbers throughout most of the season, garnering lots of attention from opponents.
While the talented duo has produced impressive numbers, there's another player on the roster that has just as important to Capital's recent resurgence.
James Richmond, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior running back, has seen an expanded role in the offense of late, rushing for at least 100 yards in each of the Cougars' last five games.
Capital Coach Jon Carpenter looks to continue to lean on Richmond this week as the No. 10 Cougars (6-3) play their third consecutive game against a Class AAA top 10 team when they travel to No. 3 Huntington (8-1) for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
"We have a three-headed monster," Carpenter said of Richmond, Haley and Pratt. "To get all those guys on the field together, it makes us pretty dangerous. James has done a great job lately.
"We have the talent. We are like an Iranian nuclear program. We have all the weapons, we just have to keep from blowing ourselves up."
With Capital turning more to Richmond and the ground game, the Cougars have dominated their last two opponents. They got their first win since 2005 against rival George Washington on Oct. 20 then followed it up with an impressive 35-14 win over Beckley last week.
The Patriots were ranked fourth in the Secondary School Activities Commission rankings at the time of the loss to Capital. Beckley, meanwhile, was 10th.
Both Richmond and Haley had rushed for more than 100 yards in each of Capital's last four games and were looking to do the same for the fifth time against Beckley. But Haley injured his thumb delivering a stiff arm to a Flying Eagles defender during punt return he took 34 yards for a touchdown with 5:28 left in the second quarter. He didn't come back into the game.
He went to the emergency room, but later returned to the Capital sideline.
"His thumb popped out," Carpenter said after the game. "I don't think it's a break. I think he will be OK and good to go (against Huntington)."
With Haley out, Capital turned even more to Richmond on the ground, who delivered his fifth consecutive 100-yard rushing performance with 101 yards on 19 carries. The dual threat added 69 yards receiving, including a 24-yard touchdown reception.
The 2010 Kanawha Valley Freshman of the Year enters Friday's game with 96 carries for 758 yards and eight touchdowns, while Haley has 80 carries for 745 yards and eight touchdowns.
"Kashaun went down and even though he's a great player, we have got other players than can play," Richmond said.
"We have a lot of skilled players. I just did my job. We are feeling great right now and things are clicking."
Carpenter has been impressed with the tandem of Richmond and Haley at running back.
"James is elusive, like a little, slimy snake," Carpenter said. "He kind of slithers through there and glides. It's pretty neat. Kashaun has the power. That's how he got hurt, trying to use that stiffarm."
Led by the ground game, Carpenter believes the offense has been successful largely due to a much simpler approach to calling plays.
"Probably some of the mistakes we had early on was me trying to call too much," Carpenter said. "We have paired it down. They are playing fast because they know what they are doing a little bit more.
"When I'm calling the offense, people are like, 'That's a good call.' There is no such thing as a good call. It's good players. It makes it easy when you have the guys we have got."