CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Capital football Coach Jon Carpenter said Saturday's Class AAA semifinal between the No. 3 seed Cougars (11-1) and second-seeded Martinsburg (11-1) could provide a chance for the fourth-year coach to take finally take the advice of former Capital and Charleston High School Coach Roger Jefferson.
"We're going back to the wing-T," Carpenter said earlier this week. "Coach Jefferson came up the other day and reminded me the last time they won (the state championship) they ran the wing-T, so we may try to trick 'em."
Carpenter could barely keep a straight face trying to be convincing with that statement. The Cougars' spread offense is running at peak proficiency at the right time of year, after all.
For the three-time defending champion Bulldogs, such a change would be par for the course. In reaching the semis Martinsburg has faced two wing-T teams from the Mountain State Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs opened the postseason by pounding No. 15 seed Spring Valley 36-0. They then pulled away from and blew away No. 7 seed Cabell Midland in the quarterfinals, 53-28.
Martinsburg Coach Dave Walker said he expects more of a challenge Saturday from Capital when the teams meet at 1:30 p.m. at Martinsburg's Cobourn Field.
"I've just seen them once, against Cabell Midland, and from what I've seen they're very explosive," Walker said. "They're kind of like H.D. Woodson out of D.C., and they produce a lot of D-1 kids.
"A lot of those teams we played early in the year have some athletes, but probably aren't as good at running back and stuff like Capital."
Martinsburg defeated H.D. Woodson 20-14 to open the regular season, but did so without senior quarterback Malique Watkins (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) in the lineup. Watkins, whose eligibility was challenged in the preseason and was not cleared of all questions in mid-October, leads the Bulldogs with 1,688 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. He has completed 58-of-98 passes (59.1 percent) for 850 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Deamonte Lindsay (6-2, 185) has also surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the Bulldogs, having carried 113 times for 1,003 yards and 12 scores. Eric Brown (5-10, 185) rounds out the team's rushing leaders with 102 carries for 859 yards and 10 TDs.
Capital won't abandon its spread to face its toughest challenge this far - Martinsburg hasn't lost a home game to an in-state opponent since 2005 - but a lineup change is in part to thank for that offensive octane upgrade.
Senior James Richmond (5-9, 162), who ran for 1,004 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012, has been repositioned as a defensive back in the last six games. Richmond has brought extra speed and physicality to the Capital secondary, but has also enabled the offense to gain a clearer identity under the leadership of junior running back Kashuan Haley (6-0, 190).
Haley accounted for close to 300 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in Capital's 65-14 win over University in the quarterfinals. He had 268 rushing yards and two scores in a 38-10 win over Hurricane in the first round.
"With both of those guys, you have to understand, they're great football players," Carpenter said. "What you're seeing is both of those guys have bought into the idea of, 'I have to bring my teammates along' and they realize that they can do a lot of great things if they're not worried about the number on your jersey and instead worrying about the name on the front.