Powerful and steady running provided more than enough for the Cabell Midland football team to ease past St. Albans at Crawford Field on Friday night.
The Knights tallied eight rushing touchdowns and finished with 360 yards on the ground against the Red Dragons en route to a 56-13 victory in both teams’ season opener. The dominant win helped Midland further fade the memory of its first-round Class AAA playoff loss last season and start the new year strong.
“Everybody’s a threat in our backfield,” Knights junior running back Jakob Caudill said. “Whoever gets it, they’re going to get more than 5 yards. Each back has the mentality they’re going to run somebody over and score a touchdown.”
Caudill finished with two rushing touchdowns, as did Jaydyn Johnson. In total, six Midland running backs recorded at least one rushing touchdown. Quarterback J.J. Roberts attempted just one pass, but led the Knights with 91 rushing yards on six carries.
“If you’ve got three or four options and what we do, it’s tough,” Knights coach Luke Salmons said. “It stresses the defense. We run the ball a lot, but that’s kind of who we are, and we’ve always been that way. We’ve got good backs, and it starts up front with the line, and they played well.”
Midland’s offense provided the bulk of highlights, and the Knights’ defense performed in equally dominating form. In the first half, Midland limited the St. Albans running game to 4 yards on 13 carries and 30 total offensive yards.
“The defense did great,” Salmons said. “They’re physical, they’re tough and fly to the ball, so they did a great job.”
The Knights forced five Red Dragons fumbles and recovered four of those. At halftime, Midland led 42-0. St. Albans scored twice in the second half to prevent the shutout.
Despite the large-margin loss, Red Dragons coach Nick Watts said he saw improvement in the St. Albans squad.
“We did a lot of good things offensively and defensively,” Watts said. “The defense — the big thing last year was that we couldn’t get teams off the field. We couldn’t get teams into drives. We gave up a ton of big plays last year. We made them drive the ball on us and that’s what we wanted to do. The longer you keep a team on the field, the more prone you are to having a big play and forcing them into mistakes. I was proud of the defense for that.
“Offensively, we got some things going and just shoot ourselves in the foot. I think we’ve shown that we’re definitely improved. We just have to keep building off what we can do and fix our own mistakes.”
For Midland, the victory proved a solid start for the program after a first-round playoff exit last season to rival Huntington 14-7.
“That means more than anything to us, because teams are doubting us,” Caudill said. “It’s just good to have that statement we’re coming out and we’re coming for that state championship.”
Midland hosts Parkersburg at 7 p.m. Friday in its home opener. SA hosts rival Nitro at 7:30 p.m. Friday.