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Prep football teams lock up in first set of scrimmages

Gazette-Mail file photo
Herbert Hoover’s Justin Stover (2) tackles Nitro’s Jason Douglas during last year’s game. Stover is one of only a few skill-position returnees for the Huskies.

Kanawha Valley coaches get the first looks at their teams against live opposition Saturday when the opening set of scrimmages is held throughout West Virginia.

Ten different preseason scrimmages today feature Kanawha Valley teams, with all starting at 10 a.m. except for Hannan at Buffalo, which begins at 5 p.m. (see scrimmage list, Page 2B).

One of those 10 a.m. workouts finds Herbert Hoover hosting Ripley, the second straight season in which those two have met in the preseason.

Huskies coach Tim Meyer doesn’t mind his Class AA team knocking heads with a Class AAA school such as Ripley.

“You don’t play a scrimmage to win,” Meyer said. “You play to find out more stuff about your kids and see if they can play. Then you see how they bounce back from it.

“Last year, Ripley drove up and down the field on us. They’re physical kids and coach [Eddie] Smolder does a great job up there. Their kids play hard and stay after you. Last year, our kids did a heck of a job with it and responded real well [making the AA playoffs]. That’s why you schedule a team like Ripley.”

The remainder of Saturday’s schedule finds: St. Albans at Capital, Man at George Washington, Riverside at Huntington, Sissonville at South Charleston, Hurricane at Parkersburg South, Nitro at Lincoln County, Roane County at Winfield and Clay County at Poca.

Hoover needs to identify its core group of skill players after losing 95 percent of its rushing yardage from a 7-4 playoff team, which fell to Fairmont Senior in the first round. The Huskies are also searching for some linemen to clear a path for those ball-carriers.

“The biggest thing we’re looking for in this scrimmage,” Meyer said, “is who’s going to block and who’s going to tackle and who’s going to secure the football. See how our athletes show up, that type of thing. See if we can make adjustments on the fly.

“You really don’t spend a whole lot of time practicing for a scrimmage, but you want to see if the kids are coachable and what they can do. Make sure you can run your base offense and base defense.”

Meyer doesn’t start completely over on offense, as junior Rhett White returns after starting the final two games at quarterback, filling in when Chase Stover suffered a season-ending injury. White ran for 50 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries in those two games and completed 6 of 12 passes for 101 yards.

“Rhett does a great job,” Meyer said. “He’s a coachable young man who works hard and he’s really progressed well. He does a good job with reading the Veer offense.

“So far in practice, he’s pretty much pulled it when he needs to pull it and handed off when he needs to hand off. Done a great job with it. Basically, it’s his first year of taking all the reps in August. It’s going to be a lot for him to learn and pick up, but he’s doing a good job with it.”

The second and final set of scrimmages and grid-o-ramas around the state is scheduled for Aug. 18-19.

The 12-team Mountain State Athletic Conference Grid-o-rama takes place Aug. 18-19 at University of Charleston Stadium and the 10-team Cardinal Conference Grid-o-rama is planned for Scott High School on Aug. 19.

The regular season kicks off the weekend of Aug. 24-26 in West Virginia. The first Kanawha Valley game finds George Washington visiting South Charleston at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 24.

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

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