South Charleston Coach John Messinger noticed an in-game trend last Friday that he later said was indicative of Capital's youth.
"Jon used all his timeouts pretty quickly in the first half. I told our staff, I said, 'You watch, they'll burn through them quick in the second half, too,' " Messinger said.
Sure enough, Capital was left without a timeout in the final minute, when Pratt and company got the ball back at their own 20 with a minute left, needing to at least pick up approximately 60 yards so senior kicker Logan Garrison could attempt a would-be tying field goal.
Pratt burned 11 seconds on the first play of the drive while scrambling to pick up 1 yard. A pass to his older brother, junior Cliff Pratt, moved the ball to the Capital 36 and then the quarterback got out to the 48 with a scramble on the next play.
After a 2-yard gain by Haley, however, Capital was flagged for a false start and then another. The second penalty brought an end to the game.
Carpenter said his own decision-making mistakes and the lack of an experienced on-field leader cost the Cougars what looked at halftime to be a huge win.
It was one that would have legitimized his young team as a contender in the here and now instead of in a later calendar year.
The lessons didn't end there.
"We had too many people running up cramping up and having little nagging injuries that we couldn't get in there and finish the game," he said. "We were standing around wanting me to put somebody else in for us.
"That's got to change."
The lessons are there for Capital to learn. If the Cougars, who have markedly improved since a season-opening win at Greenbrier East, can accept their shortcomings and work to overcome them, they'll be more than just a preseason Top 5 team in 2013. They can make some serious waves as they continue to grow this season.