By Paul Adkins
CHAPMANVILLE – It’s no secret the Cardinal Conference plays a pretty mean brand of football.
Everyone knows about the top-ranked Wayne Pioneers, their back-to-back Class AA state championships and the machine that they are.
There’s Scott, Tolsia and Poca, which have had their runs in the playoffs in recent years. Tolsia reached Wheeling and the Super Six seven years ago, while the Dots won three state titles from 2001-03.
There’s Mingo Central, the new kid on the block, which is building a football program up on the mountain.
Then there’s Herbert Hoover and Sissonville, which are no slouches.
The Cardinal Conference is always tough and always has been.
This year, the league might be even better.
The Chapmanville Regional High School football team found out on Friday night as the Tigers were handed a 40-22 loss to the upstart Sissonville Indians in the season opener for both teams at Chapmanville’s Tiger Stadium.
Chapmanville, which had its own run in the Class AA playoffs from 2007-11, slipped to 4-6 last year and missed the post-season.
Friday night’s loss seemed like an ominous sign for the Tigers, which dropped to 0-1 overall and 0-1 in the league and have all remaining Cardinal Conference teams left on the schedule, plus non-league contests against an improved Man team, Class AAA Logan and always tough James Monroe.
Sissonville (1-0, 1-0) has been steadily improving since an 0-10 doughnut hole in 2010. The Indians were 2-8 in 2011 and 5-5 last year. The win over Chapmanville seems to keep Sissonville pointed in the right direction. It was the second straight win over the Tigers by Sissonville, which won 40-21 in last year’s season opener.
Friday night’s 18-point final margin showed some competitiveness by the Tigers but the final tally was a bit misleading. Sissonville dominated Chapmanville from the opening kickoff and led 40-14 late in the fourth quarter before CRHS was able to punch in a touchdown and two-point conversion.
Sissonville played ball control very well, particularly in the first quarter, smashing down the field with long drives and keeping Chapmanville’s defense on the gridiron on the hot and muggy night in Tiger Town.
The Indians marched 69 yards in 14 plays on the opening drive to paydirt culminating on Dominic Walker’s 2-yard touchdown run and the PAT kick by Andrew Minsker to make it 7-0. The Indians chewed up nearly seven minutes from the first-quarter clock and the rout was on.
Chapmanville trailed 13-0 after one quarter and was only able to muster 5 yards of net offense on six plays, including a turnover, in the first period. The Tigers fell behind 21-0 at the half and could not get into any kind of offensive rhythm as Chapmanville only ran 20 plays and had a meager 68 yards.
Sissonville, running out of the no-huddle offense and led by quarterback Nathan Miller, also scored on its second possession with Miller’s 2-yard run. A muffed snap on the extra point kick left the score at 13-0 after one quarter of play.
The Tigers turned it over on their next possession as sophomore quarterback Alex Berry, making his first ever varsity start, was intercepted by Miller at midfield.
The Indians’ drive, however, stalled and Sissonville turned the ball over on downs at the CRHS 39-yard line.
Chapmanville was finally able to get its offense rolling, led by the running of Paul Workman and Devin Wiley. Berry also had a 13-yard completion to Zac Casto for a first down.
The Tigers drove all the way down to the 8, had a first-and-goal and looked to get back into the ballgame. Wiley, though, was thrown for a 5-yard loss on first down, Berry threw incomplete to Brady Cox on second down and the Tigers were flagged for an illegal procedure penalty to put the ball back at the 18-yard line. Wiley then went for 5 yards and a pass to Cox only went for 9 yards on fourth down, turning the ball back over to the Indians at the 4-yard line.
The turn of events ended up being the turning point of the game.
Sissonville then took command, marching 96 yards in 9 plays, capped off by Miller’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Josua Landis to put the Indians ahead 21-0 with 17.8 seconds left until halftime. Miller also fired to Duncan McClung on the two-point conversion play. The drive was boosted along by a 24-yard keeper by Miller to the Tiger 39.
The Indians then coasted in the second half.
Chapmanville went three-and-out on its first possession of the third quarter.
A 24-yard punt return by Tyler Shaffer and 15 more yards tacked on after a facemask hanky on the Tigers gave Sissonville a first-and-10 at the Chapmanville 32.
Then on the very next play, the Indians made the Tigers pay as Jared Wilkinson took a toss sweep and raced 32 yards to the house for a touchdown. The PAT sailed wide left but the Indians were in command at 27-0 with 9:44 left in the third period.
Chapmanville got on the board at the 4:12 mark with Berry’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Casto. The conversion failed, leaving the score at 27-6.
Sissonville answered on its next drive as Walker scored on a 5-yard touchdown run. Miller passed incomplete on the two-point conversion but the Indians led 33-6 with 2:44 left in the third quarter.
Then with 8:39 left in the game, Walker scored his third touchdown of the game on a 1-yard plunge. Minsker’s PAT split the uprights and the Indians were on top 40-6.
The Tigers ended up scoring the final 16 points of the game.
With 5:30 left, Workman scored on a 3-yard TD run. Berry fired to Cox on the conversion play as CRHS trailed 40-14.
Then late in the game Chapmanville reached the end zone one more time with a 14-yard TD pass from Berry to Casto. Berry then passed to Cox on the conversion play to set the final score at 40-22.
Wilkinson led Sissonville on the ground as he had 14 carries for 105 yards. Miller had another 76 yards on eight attempts, while Walker had 14 rushes for 55 yards.
Wiley led Chapmanville with 17 carries for 68 yards. Workman had 13 tries for 57 yards, while Matt Chapman had one tote for three yards.
The Indians had 48 carries for 255 yards. The Tigers had 32 rushes for just 122 total yards.
In the air, Berry was 14-for-21 for 134 yards with two TDs and two picks. Miller was 5-for-12 passing for 78 yards with a score and an interception.
Casto had four grabs for 52 yards for the Tigers. Cox had five catches for 35 yards. Wiley reeled in two passes for 28 yards. Workman had a catch for 16 yards. Chapman and Jacob Dingess each had a catch for three yards.
Sissonville outgained the Tigers 333-256 in total yardage for the game.
On defense, Matt Dingess led the Tigers with nine solo tackles, one assist and one QB sack. Casto had eight solos and three assists, while Nate Ramey had six solos and three assisted stops.
Cox and Chapman finished with five tackles apiece, while Nick Brumfield and Chris Brewster had four each.
Caleb Browning had three solos, two assists and punted three times for an average of 35 yards a kick. Michael Hall had three solos and one assist. Wiley also had three tackles.
Tanner Dillon, Workman and Morgan Jackson all had two tackles each. Dingess had one solo and one interception which was returned 38 yards. Austin Frye and Austin Kirk each had a tackle. Ricky Combs had a fumble recovery.
The Tigers were penalized nine times for 80 yards. The Indians had eight flags for 50 yards.
Chapmanville will try to get its first win of the season next Friday night at Falling Rock as the Tigers take on Herbert Hoover in its first road game of the football campaign. It will be another Cardinal Conference contest for the Tigers. Hoover, just 1-9 last year, opened the season on Friday night with a surprising 40-35 victory at home over Scott.
• Chapmanville played its opener without Jordan Toler, a senior quarterback/defensive back and playmaker who was expected to give the Tigers a boost this season. He sustained a concussion in last week’s preseason game at Lincoln County.
The Tigers hope to get him back next week at Herbert Hoover.
• Chapmanville will host county rival Logan on Sept. 27 in the annual Hall of Fame Game. This year’s Chapmanville Athletic Hall of Fame class is made up of Casey Bowling, Eric Ellis, Deana Booth and Pete Fala. This year’s Ralph May Community Service Award winner is Art Kirkendoll.
The inductees will be honored on Thursday, Sept. 26 with a hall of fame luncheon, golf outing and dinner at the Logan Country Club in Chapmanville. The luncheon starts at 11 a.m. with the golf outing to follow at noon. The dinner begins at 6 p.m. The cost is $100 for the golf and $25 for dinner only. The cost is $100 for a hole sponsor or $500 for a golf team and a hole sponsor together.
Cardinal Conference Standings
TEAM CONF ALL
Wayne 1-0 1-0
Sissonville 1-0 1-0
Herbert Hoover 1-0 1-0
Poca 0-0 0-1
Mingo Central 0-0 0-1
Chapmanville 0-1 0-1
Tolsia 0-1 0-1
Scott 0-1 0-1
Friday night’s scores:
Sissonville 40, Chapmanville 22
Herbert Hoover 40, Scott 35
Wayne 28, Tolsia 0
Nitro 41, Poca 22
Wyoming East 27, Mingo Central 26
Friday, Sept. 6 games:
Chapmanville at Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Mingo Central at Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
Lincoln County at Scott, 7:30 p.m.
Wayne at Chesapeake (Ohio), 7:30 p.m.
Nicholas County at Poca, 7:30 p.m.
Liberty Raleigh at Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.