Capital tries to wipe out a painful end to its previous season when it kicks off the new year at 7:30 tonight at Greenbrier East.The Cougars dropped their final three games last season and finished out of the playoffs at 5-5. However, all signs point to optimism this year as they've got speed to burn at the skill positions.Coach Jon Carpenter plans to split quarterbacking duties between junior Carrington Morris and freshman Tyhree Pratt. Morris, who started the final four games of 2011, came out smoking in last week's MSAC Grid-o-rama, hitting on all six of his passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns.Morris will shift to a receiving spot when the promising Pratt enters the game under center."Him going to receiver is as much about what he can do as what Pratt can do,'' Carpenter said.Other potential gamebreakers for Capital are running back James Richmond and receivers Kashaun Haley and Cliff Pratt. In last year's opener against East, a 42-26 Cougars victory, Richmond ran for 123 yards and caught two scoring passes.The Spartans return QB Isaiah Kinder, who threw for about 800 yards and six TDs last season and ran for nearly 600 yards and six scores.East also features a refugee from the girls soccer team, Ashton Holliday, kicking extra points and field goals.In other games involving Kanawha Valley teams:
Winfield at Hurricane: This annual Putnam County rivalry is spiced up by the presence of two first-year coaches - Craig Snyder for the Generals and Jeremy Taylor for the Redskins.
Hurricane won a defensive struggle last year 17-10, but the Redskins figure to have enough skill players to keep the chains moving this season, including returning QB Austin Hensley."I've gotten a lot faster and a lot stronger,'' Hensley said, "and I've been able to throw the ball downfield better.''The Generals have tinkered with a no-huddle offense in the preseason.
St. Albans at Riverside: Another first-year coach debuts tonight, as Steve Stoffel Jr. brings the Red Dragons to Quincy. He plans to utilize a wide-open spread offense, replacing SA's formerly ground-bound attack.
The Warriors won this matchup last year 41-14, rushing for 347 yards and four TDs.
Nitro at Poca: A coaching dichotomy surfaces at O.O. White Stadium, as Nitro plays its first game under new coach Derek Midkiff, a former Wildcats quarterback, and goes against the dean of Kanawha Valley coaches, Bob Lemley.
Lemley begins his 23rd season with the Dots, which includes four Class AA state titles.Poca won 44-22 in last year's opener, but is missing its top rusher and scorer from that team, Dalton Hedrick, who did not come out for football this year.Ravenswood at Herbert Hoover: There's plenty new at Joe Eddie Cowley Field in Falling Rock tonight, as the host Huskies unveil their new ground-and-pound offense, while the Red Devils debut under coach Mick Price.
Price, who had led Ravenswood to a pair of AA state titles in basketball, took over when veteran coach Dick Sturm retired."Coach Price has always had success in basketball,'' said Hoover coach Tim Meyer, "and I'm sure he'll have those kids ready to go. They've got a real big offensive line, and those kids come off the ball and hit you.''
Chapmanville at Sissonville: The Tigers ran roughshod over the Indians last year, winning 47-7 and piling up 435 yards and five TDs on the ground.
Sissonville does return basketball standout Trent Stowers, who gained 720 yards rushing with six TDs last year and caught 25 passes for 463 yards and five scores.Parkersburg Catholic at Buffalo: The Bison jumped-started its season a year ago with a 20-12 win at Stadium Field in Parkersburg, as Levi Jordan threw for 225 yards and a pair of TDs.
Buffalo, however, will be without one of its top rushing threats for a few weeks as sophomore Jordan Tucker nurses a broken hand.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org