WEST MADISON — In the third game of the Cardinal Conference Grid-o-rama on Saturday at Scott High School, Nitro and Sissonville, a pair of Kanawha Valley combatants, put on about as stereotypical of a scrimmage as one could find.
It was wild and entertaining and full of big plays and big mistakes, and Indians coach Marc Wilson and Wildcats coach Zach Davis certainly had plenty to take away from Sissonville’s 28-13 comeback win.
“My biggest takeaway is for our team to be successful we have to stick together and play together,” Wilson said. “I think early you could see a lot of guys were struggling mentally, and once they got mentally locked in, I think we were able to pull off some very good plays.”
It was Nitro that was locked in early, scoring on two of its first three plays after holding Sissonville off the board in the Indians’ opening series (the teams ran sets of 10 consecutive plays instead of abiding by downs and distances). Each scrimmage lasted 75 minutes on running clock.
Trevor Lowe fired a 70-yard touchdown pass on the opening play and after a lost fumble on play two, Cameron Foster took a handoff and rumbled 81 yards for a score on the third play to put Nitro on top 13-0.
Those two figure to play a big part in Nitro’s success this season, and at least early, they were rolling.
“I was happy with a lot of it, but we’ve got to get rid of the ball quicker when the pressure is on,” Davis said. “But I thought Trevor played well today. We’ve just got to keep working and keep getting better.”
Parker Shamblin took all of the first-team reps at quarterback for Sissonville with Jackson Foster out. Wilson said Foster, who was expected to get snaps at QB in the Indians’ season opener with Chapmanville on Thursday, will be a game-time decision next week.
Shamblin and the offense sputtered in their first possession but made up for lost time, scoring on their next four. Shamblin threw two touchdown passes — one of 20 yards and one of 22 yards to put the Indians on top for good at 14-13. That was the score when the teams’ first wave of players came out.
“I think Parker is our true quarterback, the guy that can go out there and run our entire offense,” Wilson said. “The Foster kid is a tremendous athlete. He’s going to definitely be in there when it’s time to run the ball from the quarterback position.”
Elijah Thompson was also key in the power running game for Sissonville and he started to find holes in the team’s second possession, opening up the passing game for Shamblin.
Nitro got deep into Sissonville territory two more times but both possessions ended in interceptions, the first by Lowe, who was also sacked several times, especially early in the scrimmage.
Winfield 22, Mingo Central 18: Winfield coach Craig Snyder entered Saturday’s scrimmage against Mingo Central looking for improvement along the offensive line.
At times — especially in the run game — the Generals looked great up front. But even when the Miners got pressure on quarterback Nick Vance in the passing game, Vance’s feet covered up the mistakes.
Winfield’s first team scored touchdowns on all of its opening three possessions and the Generals edged Mingo on the scoreboard. Vance, looking as healthy as advertised, was fantastic, throwing for 87 yards on 9-of-13 passing with a score and adding 118 yards on 10 carries and another touchdown. A good portion of that rushing total came on scrambles.
Winfield was also able to work multiple offensive schemes, using a power formation and the spread with the two being equally effective against the Miners.
“Nick has the green light and he’s pretty elusive,” Snyder said. “That was a good scrimmage. The result was better than [a scrimmage against Roane County] last week. We got to run more plays with our first group and I think it was a lot better from the first week.”
Winfield’s biggest deficiency on Saturday was in the secondary as Mingo Central quarterback Daylin Goad hit on 7 of 11 passes for 252 yards and touchdown tosses of 24, 80 and 90 yards. All of that without top target Drew Hatfield, who sat out for precautionary reasons. Younger brother Devin Hatfield hauled in four passes for 113 yards and two scores.
Poca 20, Wayne 7: While Winfield and Mingo both came away feeling fairly good about their offenses, it was tough to get much of a read on anything in Poca’s win over Wayne.
Both squads’ first teams played just two series of 10 plays and a large part of the scrimmage was plagued by penalties, including eight personal-foul calls and nearly a dozen delay-of-game penalties.
That could be a theme this season as play clocks have gone to a 40-second count beginning as soon as the ball is declared dead by officials. Prior, it was a 25-second count starting after an official spotted the ball and gave a ready-for-play signal. Even though there is more time on the clock, the count will be shorter and it could take teams using a huddle some time to adjust.
“You’re going to have to get your stuff in quicker and I think you’re going to see a lot more base defenses,” Poca coach Seth Ramsey said. “Offensively you have to get your stuff in quicker. Teams will probably go to wristbands and stuff to go quicker.”
Quarterback Jay Cook had a pair of touchdown passes for the Dots with Toby Payne and Dylan Mitchell each hauling in one. Ethan Payne saw limited action, rushing only four times for 55 yards.
Herbert Hoover 14, Chapmanville 7: Coming into the season, Herbert Hoover had two main objectives — re-establish its run-heavy veer offense and improve drastically on defense.
There were flashes of both in the Huskies’ win over Chapmanville, and like all teams in attendance, there’s still work to be done.
Hoover scored a touchdown on its second series on an 8-yard run from Ben Kee. He along with Zach Paxton, Hunter Bartley and quarterback Nick Grayam, who moved over from tight end this season, had spurts of success on the ground. Penalties and a couple of fumbles derailed promising drives as well.
Defensively, the Huskies’ first team largely bottled up the Tigers’ offense save for a 65-yard touchdown pass that answered Kee’s touchdown run. A long scoring scamper from reserve Andrew Rollyson proved to be the difference on the scoreboard.
“Defensively we’ve gotten a little bit better,” coach Tim Meyer said. “I’ve been real pleased with them.
“I felt like Nick did a great job pulling the ball and getting vertical up the field. We know Ben is going to run hard, Hunter had a great run called back on a penalty and we got our wide receivers involved on some jet sweeps, so I was pleased with it.”