By Paul Adkins
CHAPMANVILLE – The Chapmanville Regional High School football team is looking to restore the roar.
The Tigers, after tasting recent success with six straight winning seasons and five trips in a row to the Class AA playoffs, including a Final Four round finish in 2011, took a dip last season.
Last year’s 4-6 mark was Chapmanville’s first losing campaign since 2005.
The Tigers hope to claw their way back above .500 this season and get into the playoff picture once again.
It won’t be easy.
Several key players were lost to graduation and Chapmanville has inexperience at the quarterback position. The Tigers also play in the very tough Cardinal Conference — perhaps the premiere Class AA league in the state – an eight-team conference headed by two-time defensive Double-A state champion Wayne.
Lost to graduation are: running back Dustin Smith; quarterback/slot back Brandon White; defensive back Trevor Payne; running back Deshawn Alexander; defensive end/punter/kicker Dustin Conley; linebacker Austin Watts; and linemen Frankie Thompson, Zach Pridemore and Dakota Sowers.
The cupboard is far from bare, however.
Chapmanville has plenty of returning starters and talent from last year.
The Tigers, though, must improve, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Five times last season Chapmanville surrendered 40 or more points. All five ended up as losses to Sissonville, Scott, Tolsia, Wayne and Point Pleasant.
Chapmanville is led by 10th-year head coach George Barker, who has guided the Tiger football program’s renaissance over the last decade. He hopes his team can respond to the challenge this fall.
“It doesn’t help when I make goals for them. They have to make their own goals,” Barker said. “I hope that they have aspirations of winning them all. I think as far as I’m concerned we need to focus on Sissonville. That’s the first game and that’s the one that matters. And then from there, just take them one at a time. We’re experienced — maybe not at every position but we’re experienced enough to be able to field a good football team. This could be one of those teams that may win them all or lose them all. We have a really tough schedule.”
Barker said he hopes his team regains the hunger which was seen during its playoff run.
“I just want them to get that feeling back,” he said. “When our kids step onto the field they expect to win but I don’t know if that was the case toward the last half of the season last year. We’ve got to get back to the point where we expect to win. It all depends on them.”
Chapmanville will be led at the quarterback position by either sophomore Alex Berry (6-0, 160), junior Nate Ramey (5-10, 160) or senior Jordan Toler (5-11, 152). Senior Max Spradlin, last year’s starter, did not come out for the football team this fall.
Berry started at quarterback in the preseason scrimmage against Poca and appears to be the frontrunner. Toler, who has speed, took a couple direct snaps against the Dots in designed running plays.
“I’m really pleased with the quarterback play so far,” Barker said. “We’ll just wait and see what happens. I think if you had to give someone the edge right now it would be Alex because he was here last year. He understands what we do.”
At running back, Chapmanville returns junior Devin Wiley (5-8, 175), who saw some time at tailback last season. Wiley is fast and strong and has the potential for turning in a breakout season this fall.
“He looks good,” Barker said of Wiley. “He’s just a junior, so he’s got another year with us. He’s got a lot of potential. He had a really good year for us last year as a sophomore and we’re looking for bigger and better things out of him this season.”
The Tigers also have seniors Paul Workman (5-7, 175) and Matt Chapman (5-7, 185) at running back.
“They both are looking good, too,” Barker said. “They are two seniors who have been with us. I expect Chapman and Workman to have good years. All of our running backs bring something different to the table. We’re going to do a lot of different personnel packages and situational kinds of offenses.”
Toler may also see time in the backfield when not under center.
“He’s a gifted athlete and he can do anything that we ask him to do,” Barker said of Toler. “He’s going to be a tremendous asset to our football team.”
Sophomore Tanner Dillon (5-10, 191) gives the Tigers another option in the backfield.
“He may start defensively but he may see a lot of action on the offensive side, too,” Barker said.
Caleb Browning (6-1, 240), a senior and a transfer from Logan, is also pressing for playing time at running back.
“I think he can add another dimension to our offense as well,” Barker said of Browning.
Freshmen Alex Oxley (5-9, 170) and Austin Butcher (5-10, 160) are a pair of young running backs.
At wide receiver, Chapmanville has a couple of prime time targets in senior Brady Cox (6-5, 220) and junior Zac Casto (6-2, 198).
“We’ve got C and C,” Barker said of Casto and Cox. “They are both tall and both gifted athletes. I think those two guys in our offensive scheme will dictate some of things that we are trying to do because of their versatility. They both run well, they catch well and they are strong. They both have come in with great attitudes.”
Senior Austin Frye (6-0, 158), juniors Tyler Neil (5-11, 145) and Austin Kirk (6-1, 175) and senior Nick Brumfield (6-1, 185) give the Tigers even more talent at wide receiver. Brumfield, a pitcher on the Chapmanville baseball team, is playing varsity football for the first time. Senior Jackie Johnson (5-6, 133) is also pressing for playing time out wideout.
“We think that we can put in any of these five receivers at any time and they can help us,” Barker said.
Sophomore Jacob Dingess (5-10, 150) could also see time at running back or receiver. Alex Maynard (5-9, 155), a senior, is another CHRS receiver.
At tight end, Chapmanville will use any of its receivers depending on the situation.
“We’re going to move them around,” Barker said. “Casto and Cox will be in at tight end sometimes and out wide sometimes and in between sometimes.”
On the offensive line, Chapmanville returns senior starters Christopher Brewster (6-4, 280) and Gabe Maynard (6-4, 280) and junior Rodney Workman (5-11, 160).
Newcomer Michael Hall (6-2, 260), a junior, could also see time on the line as well as sophomores Ricky Combs (5-11, 230) and Blake Dalton (5-9, 205), junior Morgan Jackson (6-1, 315) and senior Justin Hensley (6-0, 208).
Tristan Gilman (6-0, 295), a junior, has also been impressive, Barker said.
On the defensive side of the line ball, junior Matt Dingess (6-1, 215) is a returning starter at DE. Barker said Dingess may also see time at linebacker.
Maynard, Brewster and Rodney Workman will also see time on the D-line, along with Gilman, Hensley, Paul Workman and sophomore Jeff Lunsford (5-11, 170).
“All of those kids on the offensive line will also be on the defensive line,” Barker said. “Paul Workman was also a starter for us at times last year and he’s also going to play and be the leader of that defensive line.”
Matt Chapman returns to his starting post at linebacker. Dillon, Caleb Browning and Dingess are also fighting for playing time along with Brumfield, Kirk and sophomore Ethan Neece (5-8, 160).
In the secondary, Casto and Cox are the probables at safety. Wiley and Ramey will most likely be the corners. Toler can play either safety or cornerback. Dingess is another possibility as well as Johnson, Frye and Neil.
On the special teams, Chapmanville loses it punter Dustin Conley to graduation. Caleb Browning, Wiley and Dingess are fighting to fill that role.
Browning is likely to be the Tigers’ kickoff man. The placekicking duties are likely to be filled by Dillon.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Caleb Browning, who has a strong leg,” Barker said. “Dillon also has a strong leg. Wiley may also punt. I think we’re going to be more than adequate in the special teams.”
Wiley and Toler will most likely be Chapmanville’s return men.
Chapmanville’s schedule is very similar to last year’s.
The Tigers will play one new team – Mingo Central – which replaces Class AAA Point Pleasant. Mingo Central joined the Cardinal Conference last season and are in the process of adding all of the league foes to its schedule.
Chapmanville is scheduled to host the Miners on Oct. 18 in the first ever meeting between the two schools on the gridiron. The Tigers will then, presumably, play for the first time at Mingo Central’s Buck Harless Stadium in 2014 as Chapmanville will have a return game with the Miners.
Chapmanville got a taste of Mingo Central’s new football field on Aug. 17 when the Tigers scrimmaged the Poca Dots in the first ever Cardinal Conference Gridorama.
Mingo Central, which went 5-6 last season and lost 61-14 at Keyser in the first round of the Class AA playoffs, does not play conference teams Sissonville or Scott this year.
The Miners, coached by former longtime Matewan High School football coach Yogi Kinder, beat River View (34-12), Westside (37-24), Man (30-14), Tolsia (22-20) and Herbert Hoover (44-0) last season and lost to Wyoming East (19-16), Wayne (53-14), Wheeling Central (35-16), Logan (28-16) and Nicholas County (42-23).
Chapmanville is slated to open the 2013 season on Aug. 30 at home against league foe Sissonville. The Indians beat the Tigers 40-21 in last year’s opener.
CRHS then plays Sept. 6 at Herbert Hoover, Sept. 13 at home against rival Scott and Sept. 20 at Poca before hosting Class AAA county rival Logan on Sept. 27 in a non-conference game. The Tigers follow that with an Oct. 4 home game against James Monroe in another non-league affair before going to Class A county rival Man on Oct. 11 in another non-conference game.
After taking on the Hillbillies, Chapmanville hosts Mingo Central and closes out with a pair of conference road games in Wayne County on Oct. 25 at Tolsia and Nov. 1 at the Class AA two-time defending state champion Wayne Pioneers.
Chapmanville split in its county games last season, falling 20-0 at Logan and winning by the same score over the Man Hillbillies.
Since Chapmanville plays 10 games in 10 weeks there is no open date for the Tigers this season.
“We have a scrimmage, another scrimmage and 10 straight games,” Barker said. “We had a bye week last year and then we played one of the worst games that we played all year. The year before we had a bye week and played as good or better than we’ve played. You never know how that off week will affect you. This year, we’re just going to play 10 games in 10 weeks.”
The Tigers won last season over Herbert Hoover (33-19), James Monroe (19-6), Man (20-0) and Poca (34-33). Chapmanville came close to getting a fifth win as the Tigers narrowly lost to the Tolsia Rebels, 40-32.
New to Chapmanville’s staff this year is offensive coordinator James Barker, Coach Barker’s son, who comes to CRHS from Chapmanville Middle School where he had been the head coach the last couple of years. The younger Barker replaces longtime OC Rob Dial, who left the program after taking an administrative job with the school.
Bo Berry returns as defensive coordinator.
Also returning to the staff are Larry Dingess, Chapmanville’s special teams coach, and Zach Belcher.
Ron Jones, a former CMS assistant coach and ex-collegiate player at Virginia Tech, joins Coach Barker’s staff as well. He’ll be responsible for Chapmanville’s offensive and defensive lines.
“All of my assistants would be great head coaches,” Barker said. “We brought in James from the middle school to replace Rob as offensive coordinator. Along with him came Ron Jones. Zach Belcher is back from Concord and he’ll be helping us with the linebackers. He’s helped our players with the weights and is our strength coach. He’s done a super job. Coach Dingess coaches our special teams. Whatever else needs to be done he does it all for us.”
2013 Chapmanville Regional High School
Aug. 30: *Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6: *at Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 13: *Scott, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20: *at Poca, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 27: Logan, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4: James Monroe (Homecoming), 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11: at Man, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: *Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: *at Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1: *at Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: OPEN DATE
*Cardinal Conference game
2013 Chapmanville Regional High School Football Roster
No. NAME POSITION GRADE HT. WT.
1 Jordan Toler QB/DB 12 5-11 152
2 Austin Frye WR/DB 12 6-0 158
3 Andrew Bias WR/DB 10 5-8 170
4 Austin Kirk WR/DL 11 6-1 175
5 Austin Butcher RB/DB 9 5-10 160
6 Nate Ramey RB/DB 11 5-10 160
7 Brady Cox WR/DB 12 6-5 220
9 Alex Oxley RB/LB 9 5-9 170
10 Alex Berry QB/DB 10 6-0 160
11 Nick Brumfield WR/LB 12 6-1 185
12 Zac Casto WR/DB 11 6-2 198
15 Tristan Browning RB/DB 9 5-7 135
16 Tyler Neil WR/DB 11 5-11 145
17 Tristan Adkins WR/LB 11 6-0 200
18 Jerry Lunsford OL/DL 10 5-11 170
19 William Seigman WR/DB 10 6-0 155
20 Jacob Dingess WR/DB 10 5-10 150
21 Devin Wiley RB/DB/P 11 5-8 175
22 Jackie Johnson WR/DB 12 5-6 133
25 Tanner Dillon RB/LB/K 10 5-10 191
33 Larry Butcher RB/LB 11 5-10 180
35 Caleb Browning RB/LB/K/P 12 6-1 240
40 Ethan Neece RB/LB 10 5-8 160
44 Paul Workman RB/LB 12 5-7 175
45 Michael Browning RB/LB 10 6-1 165
46 Matt Chapman RB/LB 12 5-7 185
50 Dusty Vinson OL/DL 9 5-7 175
52 Matt Dingess OL/DL/LB 11 6-1 215
54 Blake Dalton OL/DL 10 5-9 205
55 Trent Lambert OL/DL 10 5-9 195
57 Brady Fields OL/DL 9 5-9 235
60 Robert Christian OL/DL 9 5-6 207
62 Devin Perry OL/DL 10 5-11 240
63 Tyler Gore OL/DL 9 6-2 212
64 Austin Hensley OL/DL 12 6-0 208
65 Austin Frye OL/DL 10 6-0 185
69 Christopher Brewster OL/DL 12 6-4 280
71 Gabe Maynard OL/DL 12 6-4 280
73 Michael Hall OL/DL 11 6-2 260
75 Tristan Gilman OL/DL 11 6-0 295
77 Ricky Combs OL/DL 10 5-11 230
79 Rodney Workman OL/DL 11 5-11 260
80 William Shepherd WR/DB 9 5-11 165
88 Austin Fowler WR/LB 11 6-0 185
89 Alex Maynard WR/DB 12 5-9 155
99 Jody Frye RB/LB 11 5-9 235
Justin Gilman 12
HEAD COACH: George Barker
ASSISTANTS: Bo Berry, James Barker, Ron Jones, Zach Belcher, Larry Dingess, Jeff Preast and David Dean