By Kyle Lovern
The Mingo Central Miners open their 2014 season with a tough non-conference game as they travel to Wyoming East.
Coach Yogi Kinder’s squad returns several starters on both sides of the football. However he knows that opening on the road against the Warriors, who finished 9-2 last season and are coming off back-to-back playoff seasons, will be a tough task.
“This is a very big game for the Miners. We are treating this game like a playoff game,” said Kinder. “It is a very tough opener with two top eight teams playing on the first weekend of the season.”
“We’e got to keep away from mistakes. Usually the first game is tough for everyone. Flags are a big thing the opening week,” Kinder added. “Staying healthy is our biggest thing right now. We are banged up with several starters nicked up from practice and scrimmages.”
“It has been hard to get many reps in practice this week because of injuries,” Kinder concluded. “They have several starters back this year and a lot of good players returning. They have some size. Their tackles are very large at 6’5” and 6’6”.”
Junior Stevie Hammond will start at quarterback for MCHS. This is his third season as the starting signal caller. His experience and maturity should be much better this year.
Several players should get carries out of the backfield. They include seniors Chance Lester (5’10”, 170 lbs.) and Chase Justice (5’9”, 165 lbs.), who both saw meaningful action last season.
Junior Taylor “T.T.” Thornsbury is expected to see action this year. An injury limited his game time last year.
Junior Ethan Collins will likely start at fullback, but he can also play tailback. Senior Corey Sammons is another power back and will see action at fullback. Sammons also is one of the fastest players on the squad.
Sophomore Joey Hunt is another fullback that could see action and provides the Miners with depth.
Junior Stephen Whitt will see time at wide receiver, while sophomores Dalton Sheppard and Isaac Fox both could see action at split end. Kinder said all three are good athletes.
Senior A. J. Grimmett will see time at tight end. Nathaniel Abbott, a junior, will also see time at tight end.
Zach Holt (6’3”, 225 lb.), an All-State lineman, returns to anchor both the offensive and defensive lines. Clay Ellis (6’2”, 290 lbs.) is another returning lineman that is an All-State candidate. His brother Cole Ellis, a 5’11”, 258 lb. junior is another starter that returns in 2014. Ethan Jones, a 5’10”, 251 lb. senior center is back.
Kinder hopes to play several different kids on offense and defense to keep his squad fresh in the second half and he has some depth at certain positions, which should help.
Wyoming East returns 3-year starting quarterback Aaron Griffith. He will be joined in the backfield by Hunter Simmons, Nick Walker and David Powers. Jon Culicerto is the big tight end, while the wideouts are Jacob Dulcie and Casey Saunders.
East also returns several experienced linemen.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. in New Richmond, W.Va. in Wyoming County.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)