CHAPMANVILLE — James Barker has been around football his entire life.
His grandfather is Chapmanville’s legendary football coach Fletcher “Shag” Barker.
James Barker’s dad, of course, is George Barker, who has been the head coach at his alma mater Chapmanville since 2004 and is entering his 10th season at the helm this fall.
Barker played for his father at Logan High School in the early 2000s when he was a high school student and the elder Barker was then the head coach of the Wildcats.
James Barker has coached at Chapmanville in various capacities, as an assistant coach and also the head coach of the Chapmanville Middle School football team the last couple of years.
Now, the younger Barker will rejoin his dad’s staff again.
This time he’ll be the offensive coordinator.
Barker replaces Rob Dial, who had been Chapmanville’s OC the last several years. Dial has taken a new position as a school administrator and will no longer be on the staff.
George Barker said his son will do a fine job drawing up and calling the plays.
“He’s been drawing up X’s and O’s since he was 6 years old,” the elder Barker joked. “He will do a good job and we’re excited about what we have and where we are. James played for me in high school and he has coached here and with the middle school team for two years. He has been with us in some capacity for years.”
George Barker said he hates to see Coach Dial go.
“Rob has taken a job as an administrator,” he said. “It’s a career-changing move on his part. They won’t let you be an administrator and a coach, too.”
The elder Barker said he’s excited to see his son get a chance.
“It’s one of the reasons that I’ve stayed on. I wanted to coach football with my son,” he said.
Coach Barker also said CMS assistant coach Ron Jones will also be moving up to the high school staff. Jones played college ball at Virginia Tech for head coach Frank Beamer.
The Chapmanville football team is hoping to bounce back from last year’s 4-6 season. The losing record broke a string of six straight winning seasons going back to 2006.
The Tigers also missed the playoffs, snapping Chapmanville’s five-year run. Chapmanville has made it all the way to the state semifinals under Barker when the Tigers lost 33-13 to Point Pleasant in the 2011 Final Four round of the Double-A playoffs.
Chapmanville started the 2012 season 4-3 but lost to Tolsia (40-32), eventual Class AA state champion Wayne (55-7) and Class AAA Point Pleasant (48-15) to get knocked out of the playoff picture.
The Tigers will be starting practices off with a bang in a matter of days.
Late on Sunday night at the stroke of midnight on Monday, Aug. 5, the Chapmanville football team will be hitting the practice field for the first time with the Tigers’ Midnight Madness at Tiger Stadium.
Barker said it will be a good way to get the new season started.
“It will be cooler at night,” he said. “We’re also going to be practicing in the evenings and having one long night-time practice in order to avoid the heat.”
Barker said the Tigers will practice from 5-9:30 p.m. instead of having the normal two-a-days.
Chapmanville is scheduled to open the regular season on Aug. 30 at home against Sissonville in a Cardinal Conference game.
The Tigers have their preseason opener on Aug. 17 against Poca in the first-ever Cardinal Conference Gridorama at Mingo Central’s Buck Harless Stadium. Game time is 3:30 p.m. It will be the first of four scrimmages — all pitting league teams against each other.
Chapmanville is set to host the Mingo Central Miners for the first ever football meeting between the two schools on Oct. 18 at home. The Tigers will then play at Mingo Central in 2014. Point Pleasant has been dropped from the schedule this season.
* The Chapmanville coaching staff will also be hosting a youth football camp this coming Monday through Wednesday nights from 6-8:30 p.m. each evening at Tiger Stadium. Area youth age 4 up to the eighth grade are eligible to participate in the camp.