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Prep football notebook: GW appears deep at skill positions

CHRIS DORST | Gazette-Mail
George Washington running back Jonathan McClung breaks off a big gain against Hurricane last season.

George Washington’s offense took a hit in the off-season when it lost a 1,000-yard receiver in Darnell Brooks. But don’t fret too much for the Patriots.

They may have as much coming back at the offensive skill positions as any other team in Class AAA.

For starters, GW pretty much returns its starting backfield intact with quarterback Grant Wells, tailback Jonathan McClung and fullback Aidan Johnson.

Receivers coming back include Ryan Thomas and Logan Leeber, and they’re joined by Buffalo all-state transfer and tight end Owen Tillis and GW lacrosse player John Fenwick. Add versatile runner-receivers like Dakota Cosby and Anthony Phillips, and you have the makings of a pretty good offense.

Coach Steve Edwards Jr. got those skill players a lot of work during the summer, playing 52 games at various 7 on 7 camps and tournaments. GW visited places like James Madison, Virginia Tech, Glenville State, Marshall, Virginia-Wise and Washington & Jefferson, turning in a record of 45-7.

“Our kids got a lot of exposure, a lot of work, a lot of reps,’’ Edwards said. “We’re looking for guys who can compete, and trying to get them some reps. We got a lot of reps. The whole thing is geared around helping kids develop.

“We played some tough competition this summer. We went against guys you’re going to wake up and see on Saturday mornings very soon. They’re going to be on SportsCenter sometime.’’

The big challenge for GW will be retooling its offensive line, which lost four seniors.

“We got a lot of work done this summer,’’ Edwards said, “and the linemen got in a lot of good camps, too. It was good exposure for them from different coaching and good techniques. We try to take them places where they’re teaching what we’re teaching.’’

Miners’ movie premiere

This special movie will admit all Miners.

“Kings of Coal,’’ a full-length movie created by Wes Wilson that chronicles Mingo Central’s unbeaten season and 2016 Class AA championship, is set to premiere on Friday, Aug. 11 at Harless Stadium in Red Jacket.

The movie will begin a few minutes after sunset (approximately 9 p.m.), and fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and sit on the field to watch on a giant outdoor screen.

Admission is $2, with proceeds going to the football team. Concessions will be available.

On July 4, the school unveiled the official Mingo Central Football App, which is available at no charge from both Android and Apple App stores.

Beware the Dragons

Even though St. Albans faces six Class AAA playoff teams from last year, some folks expect the Red Dragons to take a big step forward from their 1-9 record as coach Scott Tinsley begins his second season.

One of those believers is Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor, who had Tinsley on his staff as an assistant coach for two seasons (2014-15).

Hurricane hosts SA on Nov. 3 to end the regular season. The Redskins won last year’s meeting with the Red Dragons 42-14.

“Last year, we were just better than they were,’’ Taylor said. “It just takes a while to get it going. But this year, he’s going to win some games he shouldn’t win when they’re not favored. He’s not going to lose because he’s not prepared.’’

Know your kickoffs

You won’t be able to tell the starting times of your favorite team’s games this season without a scorecard. Or maybe even with one.

Kickoff times are pretty much split between 7 and 7:30 p.m. for teams in the Mountain State Athletic Conference, Cardinal Conference and adjoining counties, according to official schedules residing on See the lists below:

n MSAC: 7 p.m. — Cabell Midland, Hurricane, Parkersburg; 7:30 — Capital, George Washington, Huntington, Ripley, Riverside, South Charleston, Spring Valley, St. Albans, Woodrow Wilson;

n Cardinal: 7 p.m. — Nitro, Poca; 7:30 — Chapmanville Regional, Herbert Hoover, Logan, Mingo Central, Scott, Sissonville, Wayne, Winfield;

n Others: 5 p.m. — Valley; 7 — Buffalo; 7:30 — Point Pleasant, Ravenswood.

However, during an MSAC meeting on Thursday, league principals and athletic directors voted to start all conference games at 7:30, unless both sides agree beforehand to a 7 p.m. start.

That means Midland, Hurricane and Parkersburg, among others, may need to change their home kickoff times on a week-to-week basis. Be sure to check your local listings.

Quick kicks

n Princeton has gone from six AA opponents last year to six AAA foes, adding games against Brooke, Musselman, Parkersburg South and Graham (Va.) and dropping games against Lincoln County, Martinsburg, Point Pleasant and Shady Spring.

n It’s about time: For perhaps the first time ever, more than half of Friday’s statewide schedule in Week 3 kicks off at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30. On Friday, Sept. 8, a total of 33 games are set to begin at 7, and 30 more at 7:30.

n Buffalo has just four home games this season, and they’re all situated in back-to-back settings — Poca (Sept. 8) and Greenbrier West (Sept. 15), and Lincoln County (Oct. 27) and Wahama (Nov. 3).

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

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