CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ye olde notebook:Here's how close Mountain State college football is: The next time you read this column it will be on WVU's opening performance.
We're that close.Mountaineer followers know there are many questions surrounding this season's team. There are the obvious big-picture ones: How will the team fare? Is a winning record in the offing? Who will quarterback? Will he be effective? Will the defense rebound?If the QB starter is Florida State transfer Clint Trickett, the thought from here is WVU made a mistake in not naming him sooner. With ticket sales down, that might have helped.
Yet heading into the noon game against William & Mary, I have a few specific questions - the answers to which should help solve the bigger-picture questions.First, watch how WVU's deep backfield impacts Dana Holgorsen's "Air Raid" offense. On Tuesday the coach said his backs - and the subsequent formations utilizing them - can "take away snaps from the inside receivers." Will it? Will WVU truly be more run oriented?Also, in regard to those inside receivers, are freshmen Daikiel Shorts and Devonte Mathis really the main men? Or will junior Mario Alford - and perhaps redshirt target Shelton Gibson - eventually take over?Holgorsen also said on Tuesday that, in his offense, "it's more important to be two deep outside - which we aren't." Almost certainly hobbled Kevin White will eventually start opposite K.J. Myers. Will Ivan McCartney and junior college transfer Ronald Carswell provide that necessary depth?Along the offensive line, one glaring question looms: How will Tyler Orlosky fare at center?Defensively, the focus will naturally be on the secondary. Are Ishmael Banks and Travis Bell the answers at corner? Has WVU upgraded at defensive end with Eric Kinsey as the full-time starter, along with junior college transfer Dontrill Hyman as his backup? And has another transfer, Brandon Golson, learned Keith Patterson's system fast enough to provide the necessary shot at buck? Can the defensive coordinator really afford to redshirt Al-Rasheed Benton at will?
Fortunately for Mountaineer fans, the time has come for some answers.I received a letter and spoke to Steven Good this week. If the name sounds familiar to those in Dunbar, it should. He's the son of Delmar "Plenty" Good, the successful and beloved football and track coach at Dunbar High for four decades. Delmar led the Bulldogs to the 1965 Class AAA state title game in football and finished his career with 132 wins. His track teams won two state championships.
Perhaps more importantly, Good served our country in World War II, in which he stormed Utah Beach in Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6, 1944. After America and the allied troops defeated the Germans in France, Good took the American flag and presented it to the French delegation in Cherbourg. He was subsequently honored for heroism by a French ambassador who came to Charleston to present the award.Anyway, the son has been on a crusade - since 2000 - to get the Dunbar football field named after his father. The son, though, said he was told Kanawha County School Board representative Bill Ragland opposed the idea by saying "my father had to die first." Unfortunately, Delmar Good did die this past May 17 after a short illness. It spurred Steven Good to restart the campaign.When reached on Thursday, Ragland strongly denied the accusation. ("I never told him that," Ragland said. "I never talked to him.") The good news, though: Ragland said he supports the idea."I knew his dad real well," Ragland said. "I would never stand in the way of naming the field after him. There is a process to doing that, but I certainly would support it."
Here's hoping there's indeed plenty of support.While on the subject of recently departed Kanawha Valley sports figures, tennis fans in Charleston must be saddened to hear of the death of Skip Pilsbury.
In the late 1960s, Charleston native Hugh Thompson sent a letter to nationally known tennis teacher Nick Bollettieri asking if a young pro would be interested in relocating here. Pilsbury answered the call and stayed around for 32 years.Pilsbury took the Tennis Indoor Center and produced over 100 nationally ranked players, who went on to accept scholarships in the sport. In 2001, he moved back to his native Florida, where he passed away last Friday. One "tennis fan" in a letter to this desk said "from the time [Pilsbury] arrived from the University of Wisconsin until he left, he taught tennis with all his heart and allowed no misbehaving on the court, no bad language, and had the patience of a saint."He'll obviously be missed.The new Mountain East Conference is up and running, and member University of Charleston is also running - out of town.
In all my years of covering sports I don't believe I've ever seen an opening football schedule like that of UC.The Golden Eagles will play three consecutive road games before opening the home slate on Sept. 28. Then, in the next week, they are off to Shepherdstown.
West Virginia State's schedule isn't much better. The Yellow Jackets are away three of the first four weeks.The bottom line for Division II football fans in the Kanawha Valley? Through Sept. 28 there are but two dates - out of eight possibilities - to check out local college football action.A reminder for high school football fans: Your ultimate source for scores and coverage will light up like a Christmas tree tonight.
Simply go to the Gazette website and click on the Huddle for updated scores, stories, videos ... you name it. I promise it will be unsurpassed in this state.And finally ...
A hearty, happy birthday wish to Mullens basketball legend Lewis D'Antoni, father to Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike, Lakers assistant Dan, Charleston attorney Mark and assistant state superintendent Kathy Jo.Back in 1913, Lewis D'Antoni was born in McComas.When a crowd gathers on Saturday night at the American Legion building in Mullens, he'll be 100 years old.It's a heck of a milestone for a heck of a guy.Enjoy your party, Coach.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.