CHAPMANVILLE — The Chapmanville Regional High School football team had some uneven play on defense last year.
In four of the Tigers’ first seven games, Chapmanville held opponents to 16 points or less.
Chapmanville was 7-0 at the time.
Then the floodgates opened up as the Tigers lost four straight games to close out at 7-4, falling 69-21 to Mingo Central, 76-45 at Tolsia, 54-35 at Wayne and 42-14 at home to Robert C. Byrd in the Class AA playoffs.
CRHS first-year coach Rob Dial is looking for improvement on the defense.
Many of the Tigers’ offensive linemen will be flipping over to the defensive side.
Leading in the trenches is junior Timmy Bigley, who had 98 total tackles last year (68 solo stops and 30 assists) and also had a sack and a fumble recovery.
“All of our offensive linemen are going to have to play on the defensive line especially Bigley and Seth Whitt,” Dial said. “We also have Tyler Barcklay, who is probably going to be playing some defensive end for us. Tyler has worked hard. He’s never played up front before but we think that he’s going to be strong enough to handle it. We also have a new guy in John Hill. This is his first year and we think that he can help us on the defensive line. Corey McGraw, who played on offense last year, will have to probably get some reps on defense as well as Hunter Adkins.”
At linebacker, Dial said Ryan Craddock, Austin Butcher and Evan Willis will be key for the Tigers, along with Ethan Ferrell and freshmen Josh Bumgarner and Chase Berry.
Craddock, a senior, recorded 100 total tackles — a team high — for the Tigers last season with 65 solos and 35 assists. Butcher had 87 total combined tackles with three sacks, a blocked kick, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
“At linebacker, we’re going to have three really solid players in Austin Butcher, Ryan Craddock and Evan Willis,” Dial said. “We also have Ethan Ferrell. He may also help us in the secondary. We feel really solid with our linebackers. Josh Bumgarner and Chase Berry have also been in the mix at linebacker.”
Dylan Smith is back to lead Chapmanville’s secondary. Last season, Smith had 39 tackles and a fumble recovery. Smith will also be a starter for the Tigers on offense at either running back or wideout.
“Dylan Smith is back in the secondary as a cornerback. He was a two-way starter last year and he’s probably going to have to play two ways this year,” Dial said.
Junior C.J. Dalton, Robert Seigman and Cade Elkins are Chapmanville’s other primary cornerbacks.
“We’re happy with C.J. Dalton as well,” Dial said. “He’s a good guy and he’s always got a smile on his face. He’s really worked hard at trying to fight to play at one of those corner positions. Robert Seigman and Cade Elkins are also going to help us there as well. Whether you are a two-way player or not you’re not going to be able to play 150 plays on Friday nights. You have to have some breaks in there someway and somehow.”
Billy Sheppard, Dillon Renniger, Sam Craddock and Brennan Williams are the Tigers’ safeties. Sheppard had 20 tackles last year.
“Billy Sheppard and Dillon Renniger are our safeties,” Dial said. “Renniger has worked really hard and we’re real high on him playing on defense. He runs well and he’s going to be a good tackler for us. Sam Craddock, our backup QB, might also end up playing some safety for us. Brennan Williams is another guy who will play.”
Several other newcomers and freshmen players are also looking to press for playing time.
“We have some freshmen who we think are going to be well into our two-deep depth chart,” Dial said. “We’re looking at guys like Chase Berry and Josh Bumgarner, who might have to play some linebacker for us as a freshman. Up front, we have a couple of young freshmen in A.J. Kirk and Dakota Davis. They have both looked pretty good. We also have Braxton Browning, Alex Freeman and Waylon Hensley. We also have a junior by the name of Chance Stollings. Nick Collier has also come out for the team. We also have a new guy by the name of Matt Maynard, a junior, who has never played before. There’s also Jason Conley, Caleb Deskins and Gage Long that are new to the program.”
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).