CHAPMANVILLE — The Logan High School football team has “Early” optimism while the Chapmanville Regional Tigers are looking for a “Berry good” replacement.
The Tigers and Wildcats hit the Field Turf at Chapmanville’s Tiger Stadium on Friday evening with the first 7-on-7 scrimmage as part of the June three-week summer practice period.
Both Logan and Chapmanville used the event to break in new quarterbacks.
Chapmanville graduated three-year starter and team leader Alex Berry, while Logan lost its starter, Alex Toler, due to graduation.
Adam Vance took many of the snaps for Chapmanville, while freshman phenom David Early was under center for the Wildcats.
Both looked relatively sharp in the first 7-on-7 as the Tigers faced Wayne and the Wildcats battled with Scott in an all-Cardinal Conference affair.
All the teams rotated and both also had 20-minute scrimmages against Poca, another Cardinal team, as well as Class A Valley Fayette.
The 7-on-7 was non-contact, meaning no tackling or hitting and no pads were worn.
Early is projected to be the starting quarterback for Logan during the upcoming 2016 season, although that job will have to be won during the preseason camp which begins in early August.
Early had an outstanding football career at Logan Middle School. He tore it up for the Timberwolves last season.
Logan High School coach Gary Mullins said in an earlier interview that Early was the best eighth-grade player he’d ever seen at the time.
The dual threat Early put up big numbers last fall for Logan Middle School as he was 33-for-62 passing for 1,017 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven two-point conversion passes. He also ran with the pigskin 97 times for 1,280 yards with 23 TDs and 11 conversion runs. On defense, Early was in on 49 tackles and had four interceptions.
“He’s one of the best eighth-graders that I’ve ever watched play,” Mullins said last fall. “He’s got all of the tools that you’ve got to have to be a great player. Coach Jimmy Sheppard did a good job of teaching him the offense. He won’t have a whole lot to learn as far as offense goes. We’ll just have got to get him caught up to high school speed and the reads that you’ve got to make. We look forward to having him and all of those other players come up to play. We have a lot of young talent coming and we’re hoping to keep things rolling in the right direction.”
The Wildcats were 4-6 last year, doubling up on the previous season’s win total.
Early’s primary target in Friday’s scrimmage was top returning wide receiver Jamal Minter, who grabbed a TD against the Skyhawks. Daniel Browning, Michael Hall, Tyler Browning and Skyler Miller also saw a lion’s share of passes thrown to them.
Chapmanville, under the leadership of new head coach Rob Dial, also used the 7-on-7 to break in a new quarterback in Vance, who saw a few snaps last season for the Class AA playoff-bound Tigers, which went 7-4 and hosted a first-round playoff game against Robert C. Byrd.
Vance’s targets were wideouts Billy Sheppard, Dylan Smith and Lincoln County transfer Tristan Browning, who caught a touchdown pass in the scrimmage against Scott.
Vance threw a touchdown in last year’s 35-28 road win at Man as last year’s starter Alex Berry sat out a play after getting shaken up. The swing pass went for a 65-yard score.
Chapmanville’s freshmen players also had a 20-minute scrimmage against Wayne. Chase Berry, the younger brother of Alex Berry, played QB for the Tigers.
The Logan and Chapmanville football teams are scheduled to have another 7-on-7 scrimmage this coming Friday night at Logan Stadium with a 6 p.m. start. Scott and a host of other teams are slated to participate, Mullins said.
The Wildcats will be back in the Class AA Cardinal Conference this fall after spending the last seven seasons as a Triple-A school.
Logan is scheduled to open the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 25 at home against county rival Man. The Hillbillies will also be competing as a Double-A school this season after more than a decade of Single-A ball.
Chapmanville opens the next night on Aug. 26 on the road at Sissonville in league action.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).