There are no mysteries to be found when Capital and Spring Valley face off on a football field. Considering how often the Cougars and Timberwolves clash, that’s no surprise.
When Capital visits Spring Valley for their 7:30 p.m. game Friday, it will mark the sixth time since the start of the 2016 season that the two teams have played each other — four in the regular season and two in the Class AAA playoffs, including the Timberwolves’ state semifinal win last season.
So with all the cards on the table for both sides, the No. 9 Cougars (3-2) and No. 7 Timberwolves (4-1) are plowing full steam ahead.
And if there’s one thing the Timberwolves can do, it’s plow forward. Spring Valley averages 305 rushing yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry. Luke Christopher (54 carries, 354 yards, three touchdowns) and David Livingston (40 carries, 311 yards, four touchdowns) lead that charge, but Spring Valley is able to spread the wealth.
In last week’s 41-6 win over George Washington, the Timberwolves rumbled for 365 rushing yards, but had no runner with more than 71. SVHS employed seven different players who rushed for at least 20 yards.
Much of that, Capital coach Jon Carpenter said, has to do with the massive offensive linemen Spring Valley puts in the trenches, led by 6-foot-7, 265-pound Wyatt Milum, who has scholarship offers from West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State, among others.
Carpenter said the Cougars will have to counteract that size with speed and agility.
“Hopefully, you can score and get out in front of them a little bit,” Carpenter said, “because you’re not going to stand toe-to-toe with them. I don’t care what defense you play, you’ve got to move people and blitz people, but you don’t stand toe-to-toe with them very much.”
As much as Capital knows that Spring Valley’s size will present problems, Spring Valley knows the Cougars have plenty of athleticism to score those points. In its first five games, Capital has 11 touchdowns that have covered 40 yards or longer and five covering at least 68 yards.
Leading rusher Tay Calloway (56 carries, 394 yards, six TDs) averages 7.0 yards per carry and receiver and Marshall commit Kerion Martin (13 catches, 311 yards, four TDs) averages 23.9 yards per catch. The Cougars have scored touchdowns this season rushing, receiving, on a punt return and on an interception return.
“They’ve got so many playmakers,” Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess said of the Cougars. “And their back end on their defense, their linebackers and their secondary, are so aggressive and so good that they limit you on big plays. And they can just score from anywhere.
“You could play really well and line up wrong or have a missed coverage or a missed tackle on three plays and they’ll have 21 points,” he added. “And you get beat 21-14.”
One of those big plays, a Martin 86-yard touchdown catch, gave the Cougars the lead over Class AAA No. 1 Cabell Midland last Friday until the game’s final seconds, when the Knights scored to secure a 26-21 victory. Carpenter feels his Cougars are better than their 3-2 record shows and Dingess considers Capital a top-five team in Class AAA that has played a brutal 2019 schedule so far.
What Carpenter has told the team since last Friday is to stick together and weather the storm. The scores and wins that were just inches away will come.
“You’ve just got to stay together,” he said. “I think we’ve got a pretty good football team. You tell them the playoffs don’t start until November and we’ve just got to keep getting better and it’ll be all right.”