Prep football: Poca, Nicholas seek positives from opener
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The second week of the high school football season presents another opportunity to secure a first win of the season as Poca plays host to Nicholas County.
The Dots and Grizzlies opened the fall schedule with losses, though both teams showed strengths that each coach said they hope translates to victories when the teams meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Poca fell behind 28-0 by halftime last week at Nitro, but rebounded with 22 second-half points in an eventual 41-22 loss, while Nicholas dropped a tight 6-0 contest versus Greenbrier West.
"The first half didn't go so good," Dots Coach Bob Lemley said. "The second half, I thought we changed a little bit of our offensive scheme somewhat and scored pretty quickly.
"We didn't give up, we didn't quit. I liked that about them. If we can kind of shore up the defense and not let teams keep the ball from us, we'll be OK. The first half, offensively, I think we only ran six plays, so that wasn't good. We'll have to get a little better defensively and I think we're getting a little more confidence as we go."
Nicholas will look to score its first touchdown of the season at Poca. While the Grizzlies contained the Greenbrier West offense, Nicholas fell short without any points.
"We had the ball inside their 10-yard line three times and came away with no points," Nicholas Coach Gene Morris said, "and we had it inside their 20 two other times and came away with no points, so (we're) not very happy with us finishing drives, not very happy with our redzone offense."
Lemley said he anticipates the Grizzlies offense will look to rebound behind the strength of its offensive line and senior quarterback Tyler Sagraves.
"They have some big kids up front," Lemley said. "They have good-sized linemen. Their quarterback (Sagraves), he's back at quarterback. He can run the ball really well. We're going to have to find him just about every play because he's capable of running the ball, and he can throw the ball also."
With a powerful Grizzlies line, Lemley said he expects Nicholas to employ a steady running game. The key for Poca will be to limit the opposition's offensive time on the field.
"We're going to have to make them punt the ball and get a turnover here or there, because if you let them run 20, 25 straight plays, you're not going to win the game," Lemley said. "That's going to be a goal this week. Nitro kept the ball the whole first half, so we were limited on our number of offensive plays, but we really have to work on stopping them and making them punt so we can get the ball back."
The Grizzlies' power lies in the line, though the offensive formations vary.
"We spread the ball out," Morris said. "If you went down to the basic core of our offense, it's a pro-I type set: either slot or two wideouts and you're in the I (-formation) and from there we kind of spread things out, get in the gun. We probably are in the gun 65 percent, maybe under center the other 35 percent, but for the most part we're a gun-oriented type of team."
Morris said in addition to Sagraves in the backfield, Nicholas utilizes tailbacks Will Mayes and John Isabell, as well as fullback Andy Woods and Josh Jarvis. Poca plans to keep the Nicholas defense on its heels with the strength of the Dots' own talented backfield in T.T. Loudin, Justin Stewart, Kenny Stewart and Levi Clendenin, Lemley said.
"I really believe we have three or four decent running backs, some good running backs," he said. "Our deal is opening up some holes for them and stopping the team on defense so we can get the ball."
In the first week, junior Justin Stewart started at quarterback throwing for 48 yards, but impressed more with 20 carries and 205 rushing yards. Senior Kenny Stewart finished with two touchdowns, while Loudin added one rushing score.
"We're a running football team, but we like to pass, too," Lemley said. "If the pass is there, we'll take it. We'll run just about every play that's out there and we'll run some I-formation also, different formations out of that. I think we just need to get repetitions in. I think that's a key for us right now, because the game experience is what we need.
"I think this week's going to be a tough game, because I know Nicholas County is a great football team. We need to grow up and start executing what we know how to do."
Whether the Poca or Nicholas game plan wins out, one team will leave this Friday with its first victory of the season.