CHAPMANVILLE — Just nine months ago the Chapmanville Regional High School football team was on the Point Pleasant carpet playing for a berth in Wheeling’s Super Six.
The Tigers went further than they had ever been, making it to the Class AA state semifinals for the first time in school history.
Chapmanville ended up falling, 33-13, to the Black Knights, leaving it short of the Class AA state championship game and closing out the Tigers’ season at 9-4.
Despite the loss, it was another landmark season for the Chapmanville football team, which enjoyed its fifth straight playoff appearance and sixth winning season in a row.
The Tigers are now hard at work for the new 2012 season as the team has been practicing for nearly two weeks.
Tigers’ ninth-year coach George Barker said practices have gone very well so far and has 58 players out for the team.
“It’s been going pretty good,” he said. “I thought last week was as enjoyable a week of practice that I’ve had since I’ve been in it. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve been doing this since 1974 and last week was as good as any that I’ve had. We have a good group.”
Chapmanville is scheduled to have its first preseason test on Saturday at 10 a.m. as the Tigers are set to travel to Sherman to take on the Tide in a scrimmage. Chapmanville then is scheduled to host Lincoln County on Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium in the preseason finale ahead of the Aug. 24 regular season opener at Cardinal Conference foe Sissonville.
“We know what the kids last year that played can do,” Barker said of the scrimmages. “We’re expecting them to be bigger, stronger and faster. With the newcomers, we’re going to take a look at where they are physically and mentally. As a coaching staff what we do is try to get a handle at what we do. That’s our goal — to find out where we are and what we need to do. Most of all is that we like to see what kind of team that we have.”
Barker said he really isn’t worried about Sherman or Lincoln County since the games do not count.
“We don’t approach these scrimmage games in any other way. They are what they are,” he said. “They are for us to get ready to play. We’re getting ready for Sissonville and that’s what these two scrimmage games are for.”
Chapmanville’s schedule is virtually the same as last year’s.
The only difference is the Nov. 2 regular season finale at Point Pleasant. The matchup is no longer a conference game as Point has risen to Class AAA status this fall and have left the Cardinal.
After opening at Sissonville, the Tigers then host Herbert Hoover on Aug. 31 in a league game before going to rival Scott on Sept. 7 and hosting the Poca Dots on Sept. 14 in two more conference contests.
Chapmanville then plays at Class AAA county rival Logan on Sept. 21 and goes to James Monroe on Sept. 28 in two straight non-conference games.
The Tigers follow that up by hosting Class A county rival Man on Oct. 5 in another non-league affair before having an open week on Oct. 12.
Chapmanville then hosts league foes Tolsia on Oct. 19 and Class AA defening state champion Wayne on Oct. 26 before the finale at Point Pleasant.
CRHS will drop Point Pleasant from its schedule in 2013 as this season’s matchup is the second year of a two-year contract with the Black Knights. Chapmanville would then have to add Mingo Central to its schedule next year as the Miners are set to join the Cardinal Conference. The Miners officially join the league this year but were unable to schedule all Cardinal Conference teams for the 2012 season, including Chapmanville.
Barker said CRHS will add Mingo Central next season.
“Point is Week 11 and Week 8 we’re open and so is Mingo Central, so that will be easy next year to schedule them,” Barker said.
The Tigers return senior quarterback Brandon White, who completed 37-of-75 passes for 690 yards during the 2011 regular season and rushed 73 times for another 319 yards in leading the Orange and Black to playoff wins over Lincoln and Braxton County. For the season, White was 51-for-109 passing for 880 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Also back for the Tigers is running back Dustin Smith, who carried the ball 116 times for 727 yards and scored nine touchdowns. Tailback Devin Wiley is also returning. He had 251 yards rushing on 23 carries last year and scored three touchdowns. Smith finished the season with 739 yards rushing on 124 attempts and nine scores.
Chapmanville loses top back Tyler Cox to graduation, however. Cox ran for 820 yards and scored 21 touchdowns last fall in his senior season.
Barker said running back DeShawn Alexander is currently ineligible. He came to Chapmanville late in the 2011 season after transferring from St. Albans and rushed 25 times for 201 yards and one touchdown in the last three regular season games against Tolsia, Wayne and Point Pleasant.
In the 2A playoffs, Alexander played well, rushing for 76 yards on nine carries in No. 13 seed Chapmanville’s 26-7 win at No. 4 Lincoln in the opening round.
Then in the quarterfinals, Alexander sparked the Tigers as he ran for 125 yards on 11 carries and scored two touchdowns — one on a 60-yard run — in Chapmanville’s 20-14 victory over Braxton County at the ice-cold Glenville State College football field.
In the semifinal loss at Point Pleasant, Alexander added a 30-yard TD run to cut the Black Knights’ lead to 12-7. In six games with the Tigers, Alexander rolled up 391 yards on the ground on 44 carries.
“He has to go through an appeal process in order to be eligible,” Barker said of Alexander. “There is a great possibility that he will be eligible, but it will take some time. His home life situation has changed. According to the rules, the way they are written, he’s not yet eligible. He has to go through the appeal process.”