CHAPMANVILLE — It's been four years since the Chapmanville Regional High School football team last made it to the playoffs.
After 5-5, 6-4 and 5-5 seasons, the Tigers are hoping to turn that mediocrity into something better.
But it won't be easy in the difficult Cardinal Conference.
Chapmanville lost most of its top skilled position players from last year and new faces will have to step up in order for the Tigers to break into the top 16 Class AA post-season field.
"We have the potential to have a good season," Chapmanville fourth-year coach Rob Dial said. "We need to stay healthy number one. Our depth in certain positions is concerning but we have some good experience returning. It's limited, however. Therefore, we will have to rely on some new people stepping in and playing for the first time on Friday nights. Some of those new guys will be juniors and seniors who have played previously that might not have played on Friday nights much. Some of those players will be freshmen and sophomores who will have to grow up very quick. We'll have to be flexible and guys will have to be in good shape and coachable. We feel like we have a very coachable group of young men."
It's still up in the air for the Tigers, but Chapmanville is ready for the challenge.
"I can't promise that we are going to be 10-0 or 2-8 or 6-4," Dial said. "I don't know what our record is going to be this upcoming season, but personally, I want to see Chapmanville football go out there and compete every Friday night, play a respectable style and when the game is over let's let the chips fall where they may and hopefully we will win more than we lose."
Depth is a concern, though, as CRHS has just 38 players on its roster.
"We have one-way starters, but we're going to have a lot of two-way players," Dial said. "But we're looking forward to having a good season."
The good news is that senior starting quarterback Chase Berry returns. He's been a starter for three years for the Tigers.
Last season, Berry completed 92 of 157 passes for 1,113 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions en route to a First-Team All-Conference selection.
"Our quarterback position is very solid with Chase Berry, a returning senior and starter," Dial said. "He's started in some way shape or form all four years of his high school career going all the way back as a freshman on defense. He's a coach's son and he lives football. His arm strength has improved tremendously. We've seen that in practice already. He's also improved his footwork as far as mechanics. His knowledge of our offense is just about as good as a coach would be.
"We expect Chase to have a good season. We expect him to be one of our main leaders of our football team on both sides of the ball. He's someone that we feel can go on and play at the next level if he continues to work and improve."
Jaxson Turner, a junior, is Berry's likely backup at quarterback.
"We have four or five other quarterbacks who have been throwing the ball around," Dial said. "Jaxson Turner is a junior and will play a lot of football on Friday nights. He might also play other positions besides quarterback. He'll be playing some a receiver, running back and the defensive side of the ball.
Sophomore Brandon Butcher and freshmen Brody Dalton, Charles Stoward and Cole Farmer are other backup QBs. Farmer was the starting quarterback at Harts Middle School last season.
At running back, Chapmanville loses top rushers Nick Collier (1,174 yards 12 TDs) and Dillon Renninger (416 yards, 5 TDs, 283 receiving yards) to graduation.
Many new players will have to step up.
"We have an experienced offensive line, we have experience at the quarterback position and we have one experienced skilled position player at receiver in Waylon Hensley. The rest of our offensive skilled guys are going to be new," Dial said. "They are new and unproven but we believe they have great potential once we find the right spots for each individual. It will be running back by committee until someone proves themself to be the leader. Fullbacks could become tailbacks. Tight ends could be fullbacks. Those positions could be interchangeable."
Senior Josh Bumgarner and junior Josh Atwood are Chapmanville's likely fullbacks.
"He's a classic old school fullback," Dial said of Bumgarner. "Josh Atwood also is a fullback that I think will see some action as a tailback in a bigger running back package."
Turner will also see time in the backfield when not playing QB.
"He can play quarterback but we think he will help us more in the backfield," Dial said.
Hunter Lambert, Ridge Meade, Chris Farley and Farmer are also possibilities in the backfield. Caleb Whitt, a freshman, may also see carries.
"We are really high on Caleb Whitt," Dial said. "His brother Seth Whitt played for us last year. Caleb was a running back for Chapmanville Middle. He had a great eighth grade year. We think that Caleb has a very bright future here in Chapmanville Regional High. We just have to make sure we give those guys time to develop. Some of them may have to step in and play quicker. that what we would normally like young freshmen to play."
At wide receiver, Chapmanville lost top target Brennan Williams (48 catches, 457 yards, 3 TDs) due to graduation. Senior Waylon Hensley, who snagged nine passes for 115 yards and scored two touchdowns last year, looks to be Chapmanville's No. 1 receiver.
"We have one guy who is returning that caught a lot of balls on Friday night and that's Waylon Hensley," Dial said. "This summer Waylon certainly distanced himself in June as probably our go-to receiver. He does a fantastic job of running routes. He has experience and deceptive speed. Once he catches the ball in space he can take it to the house and not be caught. Waylon does a lot of the little things well for us."
Senior Alex Freeman could be another top wideout after playing primarily in the defensive secondary last fall.
"Alex was a starting corner for us last year but we think he will step in on the offensive side this upcoming season," Dial said. "He did a good job for us in the summer as well."
Jacob Mullins, another senior, expects to see a lot of passes coming his way as well.
"He's a senior and this is his second year in playing football," Dial said. "He's got a big body and great hands. Once he gets a little more experience and confidence I think Jacob Mullins will make for a fantastic senior season for him."
CRHS also has newcomer David Peluso in the new-look receiving corp.
"He's a man who is playing football for the first time since middle school," Dial said. "He might be the sleeper out of our whol team. He's really been impressive out there running and catching the ball. He has a lot to learn and needs to be patient. But as the year goes on David Peluso is a name that you'll hear more as the year progresses."
Dalton and Jacob Topping, a freshman, give the Tigers two more potential top wide receivers.
"I'm really high on those two men," Dial said.
At tight end, Chapmanville may use some of its fullbacks there depending on the formation and situation.
"We have some true tight ends which we call Y's with Lance Scott and Elijah Stollings," Dial said. "But our fullbacks can also step in there and play tight end as well."
Up on the offensive line, Chapmanville returns senior A.J. Kirk at left tackle.
"I think our offensive line is going to be pretty good this year," Dial said. "We have experience and good size up front. They also move pretty well for their size. A.J.'s been a starter for us. He's solid."
Also back as a starter on the offensive line is senior left tackle Dakota Davis.
At center, starter Chris Samson, a junior, is back.
"We feel that Chris gives us an under rated skill in high school football and that's the center snap," Dial said. "Chris does a great job with the snap. We don't have to worry about bad snaps with Chris."
Juniors Nate Walsh and Colby Collins and sophomore Evan Plumley could also see time on the O-line as well as Benji Crouse. Collins did not play the last two seasons.
Sophomore J.T. Craddock, junior Elijah Adkins and freshmen Nick Maynard, Brady Dalton and Gabe Silva are some young linemen who will provide depth.
"We have some young linemen but our linemen are really split between senior, junior, sophomore and freshmen," Dial said. "We have good balance."
On the defensive line, many of Chapmanville's offensive linemen will flip over and play both ways.
"A lot of guys will flip from the offensive side but we are also wanting to put a little more speed up there with some linebacker types of guys," Dial said.
Lambert, Turner and Elijah Stollings will play defensive end, Dial said.
The Tigers are set at linebacker as starters Atwood and Bumgarner are back.
"Those two guys have done everything that we can in the off-season," Dial said. "We expect them to make the bulk of the tackles for us. They need to be the leaders of our defense. Josh Bumgarner has started for us the last three years. He's a senior and he knows the game of football. He's football savvy. Bummy is going to make the defensive calls. He's a guy that we are going to rely on heavily. Atwood, body-wise, is a classic linebacker. He's 6-0, 215 pounds. He was a wrestler for us last year when we started a wrestling program. Pound for pound he's probably as strong as anybody that we've ever had here at Chapmanville and he's only a junior. He started for us last season. We expect them both to be foundation to what we are trying to do on defense."
Lance Scott, a junior, is also pressing for playing time at linebacker, along with Whitt and Butcher.
In the secondary, Freeman, a three-year starter, is back at cornerback.
"I like our secondary a lot," Dial said. "Alex Freeman is a three-year starter at corner. He's stronger and thicker and has improved his speed tremendously. He ran track this past spring and that made a difference. It's a shame that we don't have more multi-sport athletes at Chapmanville. For us to be successful your best athletes have to play all sports. It makes a difference for small schools."
Farley, Hensley, Brody Dalton, Berry, Topping and senior Caleb Green could also see playing time. Berry might also see time at linebacker.
"Green came out last year on the team as a junior and he's really learned a lot," Dial said. "He had a really good three-week practice period on June at the free safety spot. He got better every time he got out there on the field to practice. This will allow Waylon to float more and also Waylon will be running a lot of routes for us on offense."
Peluso, Joe Dingess and Colton Barker are other members of Chapmanville's defensive secondary.
In the special teams, Chapmanville is turning to soccer player Xavier Trump to be the Tigers' place kicker.
"At kicker, we have a soccer guy in Xavier Trump," Dial said. "He's a real good soccer player. He came out for the team in June and he's been here with us in the August camp. All he's going to do is kick. We think that he's going to make a big difference and make a big addition to our football team. He's not going to be a guy that we expect to make tackles or run routes. He's a kicker. And that's what his job is going to be. We think he's pretty good at it too. He's looked really solid up to now. So hopefully, that translates into points for us on Friday nights."
Plumley can also kick and Farmer can both kick and punt.
Berry is the Tigers' primary punter and also the holder on extra points and field goals. Barker is also a punter.
"Both of those guys do a good job," Dial said. "I like the thought of my quarterback also as the punter because you can always fake. You might never know when Chapmanville is going to go for the fake punt, so be ready. We think Colton and Chase will both do a good job for us punting."
Bumgarner is the Tigers' longsnapper. Atwood, Scott and Brody Dalton have also been working at longsnapping.
Chapmanville is scheduled to open the season on Thursday, August 29 vs. Sissonville at Charleston's Laidley Field.
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter at @PAdkinsBanner or email him at email@example.com.
2019 Chapmanville Regional High School
Aug. 29: *vs. Sissonville (at Charleston's Laidley Field), 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6: *at Poca, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13: *Winfield, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20: *at Nitro, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: *Scott, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4: *at Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11: OPEN DATE
Oct. 18: *Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: *at Logan, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1: *Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: Man, 7:30 p.m.
*Cardinal Conference game
2019 Chapmanville Regional High School Football Roster
# Player Position Class Height/Weight
1 Caleb Whitt RB/LB 9 6'0 180
2 Brody Dalton QB/WR/CB 9 6'2 170
4 Brandon Butcher QB/LB 10 6'0 190
5 Jaden Butcher WR/CB 11
6 Joe Dingess WR/CB 11 5'10 170
8 Ryan Chapman TE/OLB 10 6'0 180
10 Chase Berry QB/SS/P 12 6'1 195
12 Brady Raines TE/OLB 9 5'10 175
13 Chris Farley RB/CB 11 5'11 160
14 Waylon Hensley WR/FS 12 6'0 165
15 Alex Freeman WR/CB 12 5'11 170
16 Scott Hensley WR/CB 11 5'11 175
17 Colton Barker WR/CB 11 6'1 160
18 Kaleb Green RB/FS 12 5'11 170
19 Jaxson Turner RB/OLB 11 6'1 195
20 Charles Stallard RB/S 9 5'9 160
21 Jacob Topping WR/SS 9 5'11 165
22 David Peluso WR/DB 11 6'0 160
24 Jacob Mullins WR/CB 12 6'1 170
26 Ridge Meade RB/CB 11 5'9 155
28 Lance Scott TE/OLB 11 5'11 195
30 Hunter Lambert FB/DE 11 5'11 210
32 Josh Bumgarner FB/LB 12 5'10 205
33 Nathan Lusk OL/DE 10 5'9 175
36 Caden Noe WR/LB 9 5'10 175
40 Josh Atwood FB/LB 11 6'1 215
42 Elijah Stollings TE/LB 11 6'2 200
50 Gabe Silva OL/DE 9 5'9 175
52 AJ Kirk OL/DE 12 6'1 225
55 Benji Crouse OL/DT 10 5'10 220
57 JT Craddock OL/DT 10 5'10 230
62 Brady Dalton OL/DE 9 5'10 200
63 Colby Collins OL/DT 11 5'11 220
64 Blake Adkins OL/DT 10 6'0 210
65 Dakota Davis OL/DT 12 6'1 225
66 Elijah Adkins OL/DT 11 6'2 210
69 Caiden Erlewine OL/DT 11 6'0 205
70 Evan Plumley OL/DT 10 5'10 225
72 Nick Maynard OL/DT 9 6'1 235
75 Nate Walsh OL/DT 11 6'1 245
79 Chris Samson OL/DT 11 6'1 265
80 Alex Miller WR/DB 9 5'11 180
82 Riley Ferguson WR/CB 9 5'10 155
89 Xavier Trump K 12 5'10 145