Prep football: Top-ranked Cabell Midland opens tough stretch for Capital
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Facing almost a must-win game last week, sophomore Kashaun Haley came to the rescue for Capital.
With a brutal schedule awaiting Capital the last four games of the regular season, the Cougars led struggling Riverside (1-5) by just four points late in the first half.
However, on the last play of the second quarter - and the Warriors owning possession of the ball - Haley intercepted quarterback Trevor Rumberg and zig-zagged his way across the field two separate times, returning the pick 95 yards for a huge momentum shift.
Haley wasn't finished making big plays for Capital, returning a punt return 90 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. The playmaker also returned two more punt returns for touchdowns, but both were negated by penalty.
Capital, ranked No. 12 in Class AAA in the Daily Mail Poll, begins a tough stretch in its quest to make the playoffs tonight at UC Stadium when the Cougars host No. 1 Cabell Midland (7-0). Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Midland is the first of three opponents the Cougars (4-2) face down the stretch ranked in the top four of the Daily Mail Poll - No. 4 George Washington and No. 3 Huntington are the others. Capital also plays No. 14 Beckley.
"Any win you can get is huge," said Coach Jon Carpenter of Capital's 35-16 victory over Riverside. "They all are big. We've come up short twice, which is disappointing to them, but we are still in the building. We need to get things rolling if we are going to make a run."
Carpenter will continue to look to Haley to provide Capital with big plays down the stretch. He has him lined up all over the field at running back, receiver at times and in the return game.
"He was awfully impressive last week," Carpenter said.
"He is only a sophomore. We have got to continue to do a good job of getting him the ball. It makes us more dangerous. We try to get him the ball in space however we can and let him do what God has blessed him to do."
Cabell Midland Coach Luke Salmons knows his Knights will face a desperate and dangerous Capital team.
"It's going to be a challenge and we know we will get their best," Salmons said. "Capital is a good team and are very explosive. They are well coached with a lot of great athletes. It's a scary game for us.
"Haley has made a lot of big plays in special teams and the return game. We don't want him to get the ball at all. They have a few kids that can take it to the house on any play. That's a challenge. It's one of those games they can make big plays, and we have to tackle."
In an effort to keep Haley and the big-play Capital offense off the field, Salmons will continue to lean on an explosive running game, especially the deadly one-two combination of seniors David Gaydosz and Lowell Farley.
Gaydosz has been a scoring machine the last two games, rushing for a combined 12 touchdowns - six in each game. He has rushed for 18 touchdowns on the season and is just 27 yards shy of 1,000 yards.
Farley, meanwhile, went over the 1,000 yard rushing mark last week and now has 1,006 on the season, including 10 touchdowns.
"We've got two 2,000-career yard rushers," Salmons said. "We feel like our whole backfield is very good. Our line has done a great job and don't get a lot of credit. We return four of the five guys and a lot of the times, our running backs aren't getting touched until the second level."
Carpenter knows his Cougars have their work cut out for them in trying to stop the Midland backfield.
"It's the best duo around," Carpenter said. "They do a good job of spreading the ball around. It makes it hard. You can't just focus your time on one of them. That's the dangerous part. Gaydosz scores so fast, it isn't on the screen very long."