Capital’s swarming defense has made a name for itself over the past few years, helping the program get back to the Super Six twice and capture a Class AAA championship in 2014.
In each of the past two seasons, a Cougars linebacker has been selected to the All-State first team — Dorian Etheridge in 2016 and Devon Adkins in 2015.
Might Chase Goldsmith be the next in line for linebacker honors?
Goldsmith, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior, is being called upon to lead Capital’s defense this season and perhaps maintain that level of excellent individual play at linebacker that the program has become known for.
He was there plugging the middle Saturday as Capital and St. Albans tangled in a preseason scrimmage at University of Charleston Stadium, preparing for the regular season that begins in less than two weeks.
“He’s a leader,’’ said Cougars coach Jon Carpenter. “It’s rare you find people that wear polo shirts and Sperry shoes and be as mean as he is on the field. He dresses like a yuppie, but he’s a daggone good football player.’’
Last year, Goldsmith was second on the team in tackles behind Etheridge, who now plays at the University of Louisville. Goldsmith turned in 53 solo stops, assisted on 22 others and had nine tackles for lost yardage.
Goldsmith welcomes the comparisons to Etheridge, Adkins, J.C. Morrison (2010) and David Pack (2007) — all recent first-team All-State linebackers.
“For sure, it’s a tradition,’’ Goldsmith said. “We always try to pass it on to the next guy, the next man. And I’m up, and I’m going to try and take it on and keep it going for us.’’
Goldsmith realizes he has to take on more of a leadership role with the departure of 2016 senior defenders like Etheridge, Turan Rush and Chris Harris.
“It’s a huge, huge leadership role,’’ he said, “but I’ve never strayed away from that. I tried to take a big one last year with those guys, but that was their team, and now it’s mine. I’m trying to designate guys and get them to lead, too, but I understand it’s on me a lot, and I welcome that challenge.’’
Carpenter said Goldsmith’s hard-working nature rubs off on those around him.
“People like him, he works so hard,’’ Carpenter said. “The good thing about him is he’s a leader that gets people to do not what he says, but do what he does. They follow him. There’s a lot of leadership and that’s the most impressive thing out there. Guys like Cam Kennedy and Deishawn Harper, a lot of guys like that are getting in the boat.’’
Goldsmith was satisfied with Capital’s effort in Saturday’s scrimmage, but knows it’s just a step in the process.
“I think we did pretty well,’’ he said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys that surprise us, and that’s what this is for — to see what the young guys do. Overall, I think the younger and older guys did really well, and I think it’ll be good for us.
“As a team, I feel we need to work on staying together and keeping level-headed, and keep thinking. We know what we’re doing when things go slow, but once things get going, we’ve got to stay right-minded. For me, I’ve got to continue to lead and do a better job of leading, keeping these guys going because the attitude of the team is one of the biggest assets for us.’’
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As far as Saturday’s scrimmage, each team seemed to get a good deal of what it was looking for.
Capital, minus its top two running backs, was still able to move the ball in the air behind junior quarterback Kerry Martin Jr.
During the 11-on-11 portion of the scrimmage, Martin was 4 of 5 passing for 71 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown pass to younger brother Kerion Martin. Kerry Martin also ran three times for 27 yards and one TD, a 15-yard scramble.
In the 7-on-7 workouts at the start of the scrimmage, Kerry Martin was 16 of 20 for 209 yards and five TDs with one interception. Kerion Martin caught two of those scoring passes, with one each going to K.J. Figures, Harper and Jay Fannin.
Capital was missing running backs Quisean Gray, who was nursing a sore shoulder, and Deshaun James, who is ineligible until at least October.
St. Albans, meanwhile, rode the passing of freshman R.T. Alexander, son of former South Charleston standout tailback Robert Alexander, a two-time Kennedy Award winner who later played for WVU and in the NFL.
R.T. Alexander was 8 of 17 for 76 yards in the 11-on-11 portion, and 15 of 30 for 148 yards and three TDs in the 7-on-7 workouts. He hit Jayson Barrett, Desmond Hill and Rodney Toler with scoring passes.
The Red Dragons’ lone touchdown in the full-scale scrimmage came on a 41-yard run by Jake Taylor.
SA coach Scott Tinsley was encouraged by his team’s performance.
“Absolutely,’’ he said. “I’m so happy. We came out of this thing last year really miserable. It didn’t feel like we competed, didn’t feel like we tackled, didn’t feel like we played together as a team on defense last year.
“Today, even if they got some gains, we had some guys swarming to the ball. So it felt like we were so much better this time than last year.’’