With all the playmakers Capital can flood the field with, Chance Knox sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.
But there was no losing track of Knox Friday night at South Charleston. He was usually the one in the end zone holding the ball. The junior receiver scored three touchdowns in the first half, one on a long punt return, as the Cougars rolled to a 42-13 victory on a somber night for the host Black Eagles.
It marked the first game for South Charleston since the death of former Kennedy Award-winning quarterback Tyler Harris, who was shot and killed Wednesday in a domestic incident in Lynchburg, Va. Harris, 25, directed the Black Eagles to back-to-back Class AAA championships in 2008-09, winning the Kennedy as the top player in West Virginia in 2009.
The South Charleston program paid special tribute to Harris Friday, carrying his No. 5 jersey out for the opening coin toss, painting the 5-yard lines in a special fashion, observing a moment of silence before kickoff and playing clips of some of his top plays on the end zone video board.
The pregame was dedicated to Harris, but once the ball was kicked off, it was mostly all Cougars, especially Knox, who has always known what to do with the ball when he gets it. Last season, Knox had only 11 receptions, but four of them went for touchdowns and he averaged nearly 20 yards per reception.
On Friday, he caught two scoring passes from Kerry Martin Jr. and brought back a punt 66 yards for a touchdown — all in the first half as Capital vaulted into a 28-0 lead.
“I just wait my turn,’’ Knox said, “see what plays are called and make a play when I can. It felt great. It was our first game coming back here [around] Charleston and getting in front of most all of our fans, having them cheering us on. It’s a great feeling.’’
Knox didn’t have a single reception in last week’s 28-21 win at Johnson Central, Kentucky, as Kalai Clark ran for two touchdowns and K.J. Figures returned a kickoff for a score.
Capital coach Jon Carpenter likes the way his skill-position players are set up, with someone different contributing every week.
“Last week, [Knox] doesn’t touch the ball,’’ Carpenter said, “and Kalai Clark and K.J. Taylor star. If we stay unselfish, we’ve got a shot to be pretty good. That’s impressive, and that’s the key.
“I’m blessed that these kids — as hard as it is with the way things are set up — I’m blessed that they stay together. They’ve bought into just winning, and get it when you can. That’s what’s making it work.’’
Martin completed 7 of 14 passes for 107 yards, with four completions to Knox for 46 yards. Martin also led Capital (2-0) on the ground with 79 yards and one score on 13 carries. Touted freshman Shawn James got his first varsity carries and ran four times for 44 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Deshaun James gave Capital a second kickoff return TD on the season as he brought one back 90 yards, also in the third quarter.
South Charleston (0-2), blanked in the first half, got an electrifying 68-yard TD pass from Shyleik Kinney to Romeo Dunham in the third quarter, and a 12-scoring run from Jaydyn Johnson in the fourth quarter.
Kinney was able to complete only 6 of 27 passes for 158 yards, with four connections going to Dunham for 153 yards. Capital was able to blanket SC’s top receiver, Samajhi Simon, who had three TD catches in the opening loss at George Washington.
SC coach Donnie Mays wasn’t surprised by the outburst from Capital’s gamebreakers.
“That’s a good football team,’’ Mays said of the Cougars. “Capital’s a preseason top-three team. This is one of the better teams they have had, and they should be contending for the state championship. They know that.
“Right now, we’re young — sophomore at quarterback, sophomore at running back. Our skill players have got to grow up a little bit. We had a plan to put the ball in space, and I felt like we didn’t do a good job of doing that. But at the same time, in the second half, we started seeing things a little better and did a better job.’’
At halftime, Capital led 28-0 on the strength of three Knox TDs, two of them in the first quarter.
The first one came on a 20-yard pass from Martin on a fourth-and-8 call with 9:31 left in the opening period. The second came on a 66-yard punt return late in the first quarter when Knox dashed down the right sideline, beating the Black Eagles cover team.
In between those two scores, Martin tallied on a 1-yard run to make it 14-0. Capital took over at the SC 1-yard line when Breece Hoff blocked a punt and the ball was recovered by teammate Chris Crowder just shy of the end zone.
Capital added to its 21-0 advantage in the second quarter when Knox caught another scoring pass from Martin, this one a nifty grab on a fade route in the front left corner of the end zone, beating man coverage with 1:48 left until halftime.