CHAPMANVILLE- Chapmanville Regional High School is back from its bye week and set to host Wayne for homecoming Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers (1-5) are coming off a 55-7 loss to Class AA No. 1 Herbert Hoover on Oct. 1. The score, lopsided as it may appear, wasn’t indicative of how the young Tigers played the talented Huskies. With 3:30 to play in the first half, Chapmanville trailed 21-7 before a Hoover touchdown set the halftime score at 28-7.
Using a keep away strategy, the Tigers were able to keep the ball away from the Huskies, but in the end the team from Kanawha County just had too many weapons for the Tigers to overcome.
“I thought our kids played hard,” Chapmanville coach James Barker said. “We played without our starting quarterback for the second straight week, but the kids continued to play hard and stuck to the gameplan.”
Chapmanville used its bye week to rest players, do some scouting and fine tune its offense.
“We spent the bye week fixing some of our mistakes, learning our base offense, trying to continue to master it and resting injuries,” Barker said. “We are as healthy as we’ve been since week one.”
Quarterback Brody Dalton is set to return from a hand injury suffered in Chapmanville’s win over Nitro on Sept. 17. The Tigers, however, remain without the services of defensive lineman James Stevens to a knee injury.
“Brody is good to go. Weirdest cut I’ve ever seen on a football field, but he’s healed up and ready to run the show,” Barker said. “Stevens has been a key defensive lineman for us this season, so missing him hurts and creates issues with depth.”
The Tigers return home Friday night where the Wayne Pioneers await. The Pioneers are 2-5 on the year and have had the Tigers number, leading the all-time series 22-3-0. The Pioneers have won 16-of-the-previous-17 meetings between the two schools.
“Wayne is a good football team, and they are a lot like we are,” Barker said. “They’ve lost some close games and are a play here and there from being in playoff contention.”
Leading the way for coach Tom Harmon’s Pioneers is sophomore running back Jaxson Damron. Damron has rushed for 316 yards and four touchdowns on 54 carries. The Pioneers also get contributions from sophomore Rylan Murdock (44 carries, 175 yards, three touchdowns) and senior Landon Wolfe (19 carries, 162 yards).
“They are good runners and know coach Harmon’s system well,” Barker said. “They are big and physical up front and will blow you off the ball if you don’t match their intensity.”
Dalton’s return to the offense will provide a spark. The junior signal caller is 33-for-66 passing for 316 yards while rushing for 407 yards on 59 carries. Sophomore Drew Berry, in Dalton’s absence, was 13-of-19 for 110 yards.
Junior running back Nicholas Farmer leads the team in rushing with 442 yards on 110 carries and five touchdowns.
The turnover battle will be crucial in determining the winner of Friday’s contest.
“We must take care of the football,” Barker said. “Playing a team like Wayne means that possessions will be limited, and team must make their own possessions count.”
Barker said it is important for the Tigers to make plays at the end of the first half and end of the game.
“We haven’t done that, and in fact if we do that in our games then there’s a real possibility that we are 4-2 right now,” Barker said. “We are close, and our are still learning how to win and finish.”
While homecoming is always important, Barker said the main objective is the same and that is to win the game.
“Our guys have to band together this week, block out the distractions and find a way to win.”