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Prep football notebook: Tinsley works on turnaround at St. Albans

Gazette-Mail file photo
Two of the top returnees at St. Albans include Dionte’ Patterson (left) and Will Anderson. Here, they celebrate against South Charleston in 2016.

It’s Year 2 of Scott Tinsley’s reclamation project at St. Albans, and he’s hoping to see more progress this season.

The Red Dragons, who went 1-9 last year in Tinsley’s coaching return to his alma mater, haven’t been to the Class AAA playoffs since 2007 and haven’t won more than three games in a season since 2008.

But Tinsley has experienced success at most of his coaching stops, which included two trips to the Class AAA title game with Nitro — one as an assistant and one as head coach — a four-year stay at WVU Tech and two years as an assistant at Hurricane (2014-15).

To hear Tinsley talk, SA has already started the road to improvement simply by keeping most of its potential players from skipping to other Kanawha Valley programs.

“As small a [triple-A] school as we are, and I’ve said this for a long time,’’ Tinsley said, “you have to keep all of your good ones that are supposed to go to your school. The [Kanawha County] rule that you can go anywhere you want as a ninth-grader — it’s huge to keep them. We lost a good one to South Charleston because of a death in the family, but you have to make sure you keep all your good ones.

“It’s hard to keep all of them. Parents want to put them in the best situation for them to be successful. At St. Albans, we have to turn it around to where we’re the place to be again. It’s hard to do unless you keep them around. Fortunately for us, we had a great group coming in from Hayes [Middle School] — they played Stonewall [Jackson] in the [county] championship game. We got most of them to stay other than one.’’

Tinsley and his coaching staff worked with about 35 players during the summer practice period, a gain of 10-12 from most sessions last year.

“It’s a lot better,’’ Tinsley said. “I guess the most important thing to me is that it doesn’t matter the number, it matters who they are. Last year, even though we had 20-some out there, it really wasn’t the guys I planned being out there in September. This year, I feel like we have everyone who will be coming in September.

“We’ve just got to figure out a way to squeak out six wins and get a playoff team again, and that might turn it around. Eventually, we’re going to win some games and turn it around.’’

Hurricane turns to its D

After losing nine offensive starters from last year’s Class AAA playoff quarterfinal team, Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor makes no bones about which side of the ball has to take the lead this season.

“Defense is where we’ll have to be our strongest,’’ Taylor said.

Taylor feels as if his defense played a big role in last year’s success, giving a lot of credit to assistant coach and good friend Jason Pratt.

“He was in college all those years,’’ Taylor said, “and he brought in that style of defense. We had guys who were not quite the athletes as the guys across from them, but he drilled into them so much what they had to do that a ‘C’ player became a ‘B’ player. We were pretty pleased with our defense. They’ve been beating the crap out of us [on offense] some this summer.’’

For a fourth straight year, Taylor has to find a new quarterback to direct the offense, and will likely choose between junior transfer Nathan Roy and sophomore Austin Womack.

“We worked a lot of freshmen and sophomores into the offense [the final week of summer drills],’’ Taylor said, “and we had over 100 reps going into our final night. We got a lot of work in. We needed it, though. We still film everything we do, all that stuff.

“If we didn’t have these three weeks, we’d lose our first three games, no doubt, because we’d have been so far behind offensively. We would have been in a lot of trouble.’’

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

With much of the state split between 7 and 7:30 p.m. kickoff times, one Fayette County school is unique in that its home games are listed to start at 5 p.m.

Because of the lack of quality lighting at its school field in Smithers, Valley chooses the earlier time entirely out of necessity.

“It’s either that or play on a Saturday afternoon,’’ said athletic director Joe McCoy, “but a lot of schools didn’t want to do that.’’

The Greyhounds held home games at WVU Tech’s Martin Field in Montgomery from 1977 (when their consolidated school opened) through 2014. But those facilities fell into disrepair when Tech dropped football following the 2011 season.

In 2015, the Hounds held designated home games on the fields of county rivals Midland Trail, Oak Hill and Fayetteville.

But for now, it’s daytime football for Valley all the way until its Oct. 13 home finale against Buffalo. Sunset in Smithers that day is forecast for 6:50 p.m. EDT.

McCoy is hopeful that a new set of lights will eventually rectify the situation in coming years.

“Our boosters say we’re going to get them,’’ McCoy said, “but I haven’t heard any word on that yet.’’

Miners apt with apps

First, Mingo Central captured the school’s first football championship during last year’s Super Six in Wheeling.

Now, the Miners have apparently pulled off another noteworthy feat, claiming they are the first school in West Virginia to have their own app for mobile devices.

The official launch of the Mingo Central Football App came on the Fourth of July.

Simply put, an app (short for application) is a type of computer software that allows you to perform specific tasks, and provides access to all sorts of online information.

Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.

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