CHAPMANVILLE – It’s always a tough season opener when the Chapmanville Regional High School football team kicks it off against the Sissonville Indians.
This year appears to be no exception as Chapmanville is set to open the regular season on Friday night at home against Sissonville, a team that went 7-4 and reached the Class AA playoffs last year.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Chapmanville’s Tiger Stadium.
It will be a special game for CRHS in that it will be the first regular season contest on Chapmanville’s new Field Turf.
All three of the football fields in Logan County were carpeted with artificial turf as part of a $2.5 million joint project between the Logan County Commission and the Logan County Board of Education.
There will be a short field dedication before the game.
Chapmanville tested its new turf last Friday night as the Tigers scrimmaged against Lincoln County in a preseason game.
All went well and the Tigers are excited to play on the turf on Friday night against the Indians, a Cardinal Conference rival and a team ranked No. 9 in the state in the preseason media poll.
Chapmanville coach George Barker said the Tigers, which went 4-6 last year and are ranked No. 13 in the preseason poll, are ready to kick off another season of football. CRHS hasn’t had a winning season and playoff berth in four years and the Tigers are anxious to turn things around.
“We’re excited to get the season started,” Barker said. “It’s a new environment (with the turf) but everyone seems to be excited.”
Chapmanville opened last year with a 42-14 defeat at Sissonville and got out of the gate slowly with an 0-3 record. The Indians have won the last three meetings with the Tigers and lead the overall series 5-4 since Chapmanville joined the Cardinal Conference in 2007.
The Indians will be another tough opener for CRHS as Sissonville returns running back Jared Wilkinson, QB Chance Brown and a good chunk of linemen on both sides of the ball.
Sissonville, however, lost longtime head coach Eddie Smolder, who left for Ripley. The new coach is Marc Wilson, a former South Charleston defensive coordinator.
The Indians also return senior offensive lineman Chase Adams, a second-team all-state pick from last year.
“Every game is big in the Cardinal Conference,” Barker said. “Anytime with our schedule we know that we have to play to the best of our ability to be able to win. We know that Sissonville is a good, quality opponent. We just hope that we can compete with them and make a good quality game of it.”
Sissonville seems to be a program on the rise.
After an 0-10 doughnut hole in 2010, the Indians were 2-8 in 2011, 5-5 in 2012 and doubled their win total to 10 in 2013 including a first-round playoff victory.
The Indians lost to fellow Cardinal Conference foe Mingo Central, 35-13, on the road in last year’s playoffs.
In last year’s meeting, Wilkinson ran for 119 yards on 20 carries and the Indians will no doubt look to establish the ground game with him again on Friday night.
Chapmanville quarterback Alex Berry was 12-for-25 passing for 111 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in last year’s game with Sissonville. The Tigers were limited to just 17 yards of net rushing on 21 carries and had just 149 yards of total offense. Sissonville had 459 yards for the game.
Berry was the leading passer in the Cardinal Conference last year as he completed 105-of-191 passes (55 percent) for 1,352 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. At season’s end, he was voted by the state’s media as a Class AA honorable mention all-state selection.
The Tigers also have two-way player Tanner Dillon, who is Chapmanville’s leading returning rusher. Last year, he had 789 yards on 151 carries and scored nine touchdowns. On defense, Dillon had 95 total tackles last year with a sack and a fumble recovery from his linebacker post and was a special honorable mention all-state pick.
At wide receiver, Chapmanville is solid with the return of Jacob Dingess, the Cardinal Conference’s No. 1 wideout from last year. Dingess caught 44 passes for 702 yards and eight touchdowns last year and was a second-team all-state selection.
On the offensive line, the Tigers are very strong on the left side as center Evan Willis, a sophomore, returns along with Blake Dalton and Ricky Combs who are also back.
Chapmanville had two preseason scrimmages at Scott in the Cardinal Conference Gridorama and last Friday night at home against Lincoln County in the first game on the new Tiger Stadium turf.
The Tigers had a few preseason highlights.
In the scrimmage against Scott, defensive lineman Combs returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown.
In the game against Lincoln County, Berry hooked up with Dingess for three touchdown passes, including one that went for 99 yards.
“That should be a strength going into our season,” Barker said when asked about the Berry to Dingess combo. “We have the leading passer and the leading receiver in the conference back from last year. To me, that’s a given. We have to be able to get other people involved in what we do. The secret to us is us being a team. If we can spread it out and make the other team defend us from sideline to sideline then we’ve got a chance.”
Barker said the Tigers must improve on defense.
“We just have got to play better on defense than we have the last couple of years,” he said. “We have to make our tackles.”
Barker reports no major injuries heading into the opener.
“When you play football you are going to get some bumps and bruises,” he said. “Right now, we’re decently healthy and hopefully we can stay that way until Friday night and go into the game healthy.”
The CRHS football team is offering season tickets for the 2015 grid campaign.
The cost is $25 for the five home games.
To purchase tickets call CRHS at 304-855-4522 or drop by the front office.
Football Friday Night
WHAT: No. 9 Sissonville (0-0, 0-0) at No. 13 Chapmanville (0-0, 0-0)
WHEN: Friday night, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Tiger Stadium, Chapmanville
SURFACE: Field Turf
LAST YEAR’S GAME: Sissonville beat the Tigers 42-14 at home.
LAST YEAR: Sissonville was 7-4 and lost to Mingo Central in the first round of the Class AA playoffs. Chapmanville was 4-6.
INTERNET STREAM: www.chapmanvilletigers.tv
Chapmanville vs. Sissonville
Last 10 years (Sissonville leads 5-4)
2014: Sissonville 42, Chapmanville 14
2013: Sissonville 40, Chapmanville 22
2012: Sissonville 40, Chapmanville 21
2011: Chapmanville 47, Sissonville 7
2010: Chapmanville 45, Sissonville 6
2009: Chapmanville 34, Sissonville 19
2008: Chapmanville 41, Sissonville 19
2007: Sissonville 27, Chapmanville 21 (OT)
2006: Sissonville 34, Chapmanville 14
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1730, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).