They say the special teams are often overlooked in football.
Maybe to the fans, who expect perfect snaps, perfect holds, good kicks and good punts.
But to football coaches, the special teams are hugely important and can mean the difference between a win and a loss.
Chapmanville Regional High School had a huge weapon in the kicking game last year with senior Tanner Dillon.
Dillon smashed all of Chapmanville’s kicking records last year.
He did all of the kicking chores for the Tigers last season and was an all-state punter as he averaged 35 yards per boot.
Dillon made 46-of-50 in his PAT kicks and also booted three field goals, including the game-winning 35-yard kick in Chapmanville’s 38-35 win at Herbert Hoover.
Dillon, however, has been lost to graduation.
“Tanner did a lot for us last year,” new CRHS football coach Rob Dial said.
Austin Butcher and Tristan Browning are the CRHS punters. Dillon Renniger is Chapmanville’s likely kicker. Browning can also place kick, Dial said.
At longsnapper, Billy Sheppard and Josh Bumgarner are likely to handle the duties.
“The longsnapper and holder are very important to our program,” Dial said. “They are truly unsung heroes. If you watched the national championship game last year in college football you saw that Clemson had a couple of mistakes on special teams. That was one of the main reasons they lost that ballgame. They weren’t solid in special teams. We have to make a concentrated effort in our special teams.”
Down at Logan High School, senior kicker Chris Watkins is back. He will also play on the offensive and defensive lines for the Wildcats this fall.
Watkins made 6-of-8 of his PAT attempts last year. He missed on his only field goal try.
Daniel Browning, Troy Cowhart and Dino Noe can also kick. Noe, who hails from Nigeria, is also a member of the inaugural LHS soccer team and also the Logan basketball squad.
All four can also punt.
Logan is definitely deep there.
“Chris Watkins is back as our kicker,” Logan coach Gary Mullins said. “Tyler Browning and Daniel Browning are our holders. Troy Cowhart can also kick well as a freshman. Dino Noe can also kick. We think that we’ll be pretty solid as far as special teams go. All of those guys will also be in competition as the punter. Chris Watkins punted for us last year and he works really hard and goes to kicking camps in the summer. Right now, he’s the front-runner.”
Daniel Browning, not to be confused with the Logan player of the same name, appears to have the nod as Man High School’s kicker.
“We are working on that,” Man coach Harvey Arms said of his special teams. “We’ve got a kid here, I don’t know if he played any soccer, but he is a soccer style kicker in Daniel Browning. He looks pretty good now so we will keep working with him.”
OL McDonald goes
down with injury
Logan’s football team received a big setback last week with the loss of starting center Caleb McDonald.
McDonald, a 6-foot, 300-pound senior, injured his knee during practice. His prognosis is unclear at this point.
“He was our only returnee on the offensive line,” Mullins said. “It was a freak accident. He was doing a pass set and his knee turned on him. He was walking around. We thought that he just had a sprain or something like that. It was just one of those freak things that happens sometimes in football. We’re hoping that he can come back. A few years ago, Chris Marcum had a similar injury in Week 2 against Nicholas County and he was able to make it back for the ninth game when we played Hurricane.”
McDonald was expected to start for Logan at center.
“He would have been our center and would have played on defense, too,” Mullins said. “That’s a big loss for us.”
The Cats are currently trying to figure out who will play in McDonald’s place.
All three Logan County teams were in preseason action on Saturday.
Logan traveled to Tug Valley High School in Naugatuck where the Wildcats faced host Tug and also Paintsville (Ky.) it was the third straight year the teams have faced off in the preseason opener.
Chapmanville Regional scrimmaged at Valley Fayette, while Man High School was slated to have a preseason game at Class AAA George Washington.
CRHS and Logan held its annual Picture Days on Friday. Man held its Picture Day last Saturday.
Logan opens the regular season on Aug. 25 at home against Man. The Tigers go to Sissonville on Aug. 26.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).