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midland dennis ball stat

Cabell Midland football statistician Dennis Ball is set to work his 500th high school football game Friday when the Knights play at University in the Class AAA playoffs in Morgantown.

ONA — Stopping Dennis Ball from attending a Cabell Midland football game might be more difficult than preventing the Knights powerful running game from picking up a first down on third-and-inches.

Ball, Cabell Midland’s football statistician, is scheduled to work his 500th game when the No. 5-seeded Knights (10-1) play at No. 4 University (11-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals of the Class AAA playoffs.

“I haven’t missed a game since 1977,” Ball said, shaking his head and smiling.

Ball, 78, would have hit the 500 mark earlier in the season had COVID-19 not forced the cancellation of three regular-season games and the postseason in 2020.

Ball started keeping stats for Milton High School, which in 1994 consolidated with Barboursville High to make Cabell Midland. His first game was the Greyhounds vs. Scott, and his initial game with the Knights was against Greenbrier East.

Cabell Midland coach Luke Salmons said Ball is a treasured part of the program. Ball, who enjoys bowling and also served as the public address announcer for Cabell Midland baseball last season, said he is thankful to be with the Knights.

“Luke and I have an agreement that he can’t fire me,” Ball said, with a chuckle. “I’ll continue doing it until I don’t want to do it anymore. I’ll aim for 600, if I can make it.”

Some statisticians use electronics to chart games. Not Ball. He still uses pencil and paper. Ball said he makes sure the pencil has an eraser because he occasionally makes a mistake.

Ball isn’t shy about his allegiance. From the press box he’ll cheer for, or fuss at, a player. If an official makes what he perceives as a bad call, Ball will offer his opinion on that, too.

Ball said he has no particularly memorable game he’s worked, saying all of the wins were his favorites.

He hopes to record a Cabell Midland victory Friday night. A triumph could set up a rematch with No. 1 Huntington in the semifinals. The Highlanders edged the Knights 21-17 on Sept. 10.

One pleasure that has eluded Ball is a state championship. Cabell Midland has been to the state finals twice, but Martinsburg foiled the Knights’ title hopes both times, 38-14 in 2012 and 49-21 in 2019. Ball could see the No. 2 Bulldogs again if Martinsburg can get past Spring Valley on Friday, then either Bridgeport or Jefferson in the semifinals.