CHAPMANVILLE — Excitement is brewing for the Chapmanville Regional High School soccer team which is fielding a squad for the first time in school history this fall.
The Tigers, which are fielding a co-ed team and competing in the boys’ division, will make history on Friday night with their first match as FC Chapmanville hits the road to the Princeton area to play Mercer Christian Academy.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
Chapmanville then hosts Tug Valley, another first-year program, on Saturday at 6 p.m. on the Tiger Stadium Field Turf.
CRHS coach Greg Dillon said the team is ready to get it under way.
“It’s a great adventure,” Dillon said. “The kids are excited and the kids are pumped. They are stoked about it. That’s all that I can say. They are ready to go. They are maturing but I have a couple of people who have never played soccer before much less even kicked a ball before.”
With any first-year program or expansion team in the professional ranks there will be aches and pains since everything is new and a team is built from scratch.
“There will be about two or three growing pains,” Dillon said. “One, we have four seniors this year — Dylan Brown, Fidelis Nwafor, Joe Toth and Christian Stafford. Right where they are in the process of leading the team they will be graduating and we will have to start over again with new leaders. Also, there’s a certain process and a certain disclipline that the kids have to have. They have to get mentally prepared for that. There’s going to be some growing pains and we won’t be setting the world and we can’t be Team Brazil. But we’re excited and the name of the game for us is competing.”
Many of Dillon’s players came up from the local rec leagues.
Coach Dillon said, however, there’s a stark difference between rec league soccer and level of play you will see at in high school.
“Rec league ball is a lot less contact and a lot slower,” Dillon said. “This was a world shattering event for many of them but they are coming along. I have a lot of respect for them. “Rec league soccer is like a pack of players. In high school soccer you have to spread the field and work on passing.”
Dillon said he will look for athletes like Christian Stafford, a former soccer player in the Ravenswood area, to help the Tigers get their feet wet.
“We have some good athletes like Christian Stafford,” Dillon said. “He transferred from Ravenswood a few years ago to Chapmanville. He played some middle school soccer and also played as a freshman. He hasn’t played, though, in about three years. Now he’s trying to get his feet underneath him.”
Ben Chapman appears to have the nod as Chapmanville’s starting goalie.
“Joe Toth was going to be our goalie. He had played a lot of rec league goalie and he’s had some success but what what I saw in the scrimmages he looked better as a back field guy,” Dillon said. “He’s physical and he has a nose for the ball. I need that right now. Ben Chapman will be my starting goalie on Friday night in my first match at Mercer Christian Academy.”
Another player the Tigers will look to will be Fidelis Nwafor, a Nigerian national who is also playing for the CRHS football team this fall. He also plays basketball and has a soccer background in his home country.
“Fidelis Nwafor is a good player but we can’t always understand him,” Dillon joked. “But when you play sports it’s a universal language. He’s becoming a leader too. Rec league soccer is like a pack of players going to the ball. In high school soccer you have to spread the field and work on passing. Fidelis has helped us with that.”
Zack Lamb is another Chapmanville player who will be counted on.
“Zack Lamb is a sophomore phenom,” Dillon said. “He has senior level touch skills, character and leadership qualities. He will be the only captain of the team that will be a sophomore. He’s one of our leaders. He shows up every day in 100-degree weather out there on the Field Turf. He sweats it out for three hours and I think that he should be respected.”
Several others, such as Jacob Richardson, Olivia Bryant, Kaylee Bowe, Baylie Holton, Hailey Chewning, Austin Hanshaw and Ryan Belcher expect to see significant playing time.
“We have some nice players. We have Jacob Richardson. He’s a good kid and he’s getting the hang of it,” Dillon said. “We have Olivia Bryant, Kaylee Bowe and Baylie Holton. She will be a starter for me. We also have Hailey Chewning. She’s a good kid and she will be playing both offense and defense. Another kid is Austin Hanshaw. The ball always seems to be around him. We have Ryan Belcher and he’s our Enegizer Bunny. He’s just go, go, go. He’s a great kid and he brings a lot of energy and a lot of fun.”
Rounding out the roster are: Amber Stokes; Kayla Baldwin; Savannah Toney; Catherine Carter; Patricia Haddox; Dillon Renniger; Carlos Sheppard; and Carla Sheppard.
Chapmanville’s schedule will be difficult as the Tigers are slated to face such established programs such as Sissonville, Nitro, Mingo Central, Poca and Scott from the Cardinal Conference as well as Lincoln County and Parkersburg Catholic.
CRHS was slated to play a home-and-home series with Calvary Baptist this season but those games were canceled as the school had to fold its soccer program due to the team’s roster dwindling to just eight players.
2016 Chapmanville Regional
High School Soccer Schedule:
Aug 19 at Mercer Christian, 6 p.m.
Aug 20 Tug Valley, 6 p.m.
Aug 25 at Shelby Valley (Ky.), 7 p.m.
Aug 27 at Sissonville, 1 p.m.
Aug 30 at Pike Central (Ky.), 7 p.m.
Sept 1 Nitro, 7 p.m.
Sept 3 Lincoln County, 7 p.m.
Sept 6 Pike Central (Ky.), 11 a.m.
Sept 10 Shelby Valley (Ky.), 11 a.m.
Sept 13 at Scott, 7 p.m.
Sept 20 at Mingo Central, 6 p.m.
Sept 22 at Lincoln County, 6 p.m.
Sept 24 Parkersburg Catholic, 10 a.m.
Sept 27 Mingo Central, 6 p.m.
Sept 29 Poca, 6 p.m.
Oct 1 at Parkersburg Catholic, 11 a.m.
Oct 4 Scott, 7 p.m.
Oct 6 Herbert Hoover, 6 p.m.
Oct 11 Teays Valley Christian, 6 p.m.
Oct 17-21 Sectionals
Oct 25-27 Regionals
Nov 4-6 State Tournament
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).