Coalfields Region Preview Part Two
The second part of each region preview includes a preseason ranked list of the Top Ten teams and the Elite Eight players with several accolades to look out for. The Coalfields region strength comes in AA with young potential in both AAA and A. High school football is extremely difficult to predict- it is hard to see what several seniors do for a team. As said before, if you or your team is left off you have two options: prove us right or prove us wrong.
Coalfields Region Top Ten
1. Mingo Central Miners
What more can be said about the Miners, a team that is loaded in experience and talent. Playing in a tough conference will test their resilience, but they rolled through a similar schedule last season. Though legendary coach Yogi Kinder departed the program, three all state players return to lead the Miners of Matewan. The pressure for a repeat is present- expectations are always high for a program like this.
2. Chapmanville Tigers
Adam Vance, Dylan Smith, and the Tigers offense have given them state recognition as team to watch out for in 2017. They finished 5-5 last season, but a couple of close losses down the stretch costed them a chance at the AA playoffs. On paper they haven’t lost much- returning quarterbacks are a treasure. Returning quarterbacks that threw for over 2000+ could be special. A year of experience in this air raid system could be the formula needed to push them to the postseason.
3. Bluefield Beavers
A lot of emphasis has been put on the Beavers on whether or not they can restore their winning tradition. We have confidence that they can, but they must improve in the trenches for that to happen. Skill wise, they have all the talent in the world. Speed, hops, explosiveness- you name it. If both units play at their ability or higher the Beavers could be a top 5 team in the state.
4. James Monroe Mavericks
James Monroe reached as high as two in some of our rankings. It’s a toss up between the Tigers, Beavers, and Mavericks. James Monroe had a very impressive outing last season with their only loss in the regular season coming to defensive standouts Nicholas County and they fell short to Mingo Central in the state semifinals. They return a good running back and have a favorable schedule for success.
5. Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles
One of the only AAA teams in the area comes in at 5th. They were incredibly young and had to grow up quickly last season. Compared to their MSAC opponents, they will still be young. Knocks on the chin build character- a three year starting quarterback will hold the ropes and some aging skill players sprinkled around him. If they can win early they can turn their season into an impressive one.
6. Greenbrier East Spartans
Another AAA team with question marks looming around them. However, their schedule is a little more manageable than Woodrow’s. Little is known about the upcoming Spartan team, but last year’s squad had a surprisingly successful campaign. This year could see similar wins. Wins against other region teams is very necessary for those W’s to come in.
7. Fayetteville Pirates
The David Moneypenny led Pirates are coming off one of the best seasons in school history. Finishing undefeated in the regular season and going all the way to the semifinals of the Single A playoffs. While they do graduate a very good Senior class, they have a top player in the region coming back. If the offense builds around him, they could be a Single A juggernaut yet again.
8. Independence Patriots
Independence falls into the same category as Fayetteville. A great defense captains this squad as it did in 2016. Changes have occurred, however, with a new coaching staff and having to replace some very good players. Their first game with Midland Trail is going to be huge for both Patriot units. Hopefully, they can go deeper into the playoffs than previous seasons.
9. Nicholas County
They finished last season 9-1 and could replicate that again this season. A few big games will be key for them because they will struggle to gain quality points. Notably, the Grizzlies had one of the stingiest defenses throughout the state not even allowing a point in their first four contests (and only 9 in their fifth). Like other teams at the top, success within the region and winning favored games is important.
10. Midland Trail Patriots
A sleeper that we believe can have a breakout year in Single A. Knocking off AA opponents and winning rivalry games will poise them to accomplish some great feats. This team has been in the works for several seasons, and it is evident that the Patriot program is coming full tilt. They slide in the top ten and could soar higher.
Mt. View Golden Knights, Princeton Tigers, Logan Wildcats
- Jeremy Dillon (QB) Mingo Central
6’4 190 Senior
4,057 yards, 61 touchdowns, one state championship, zero losses. Jeremy Dillon, a Marshall basketball commit, won multiple awards including the Kennedy (state’s best player) and House (states’ best quarterback) after his 2016 campaign one year removed from Tug Valley. Dillon is a legitimate game changer. Athletically, he is a handful match up with him + his solid ability to throw + a strong knowledge for running the quarterback position is the equation to equal the statistics and accolades listed. Dillon transcends AA, believe that. Dillon leads a Mingo Central program excelling in football culture heading into 2017- good luck to any in their way.
2) Mookie Collier (RB) Bluefield
5’10 170 Senior
Collier is pure electricity. As an all-purpose player, Collier totaled 1,713 yards and 22 touchdowns. Bluefield had a lackluster season in 2016- that was in no fault to Collier. He is a slasher with bounce. His size doesn’t bring many issues either as his explosiveness is enough to compensate. Collier has a certified 39-inch vertical- complete absurdity. Collier is another player that transcends his division and is one of the top players in the entire state. If the Beavers want to rebound this season, Collier will need to build on his success. He has several backs and a veteran coach who will aid in fully utilizing his ability.
3) Drew Hatfield (WR) Mingo Central
6’0 170 Sophomore
Similar to Collier, Hatfield is a player that affects a game at different positions including special teams. His catching ability is bar none with an added shifting ability. His straight-line speed is bound to be improving from natural growth. Considering Hatfield had such an impact as a freshman on a state championship team- it can be assumed that expectations are high for his sophomore season. His quarterback returns, and the departure of Joe Hunt (all state running back) will open up touches for skill players. In 2016’s finale, Hatfield capped off his season catching five balls for 103 yards in the State Championship game against Fairmont Senior (one of the best defenses statewide). His progression should prove noteworthy.
4) Dalton Fields (OL) Mingo Central
6’0 230 Senior
Fields in an old-fashioned player with grit. Weighing under 250 can be a flaw for lineman, but it can also put a chip on their shoulder. Fields fires off the ball every single play- his lack of weight benefits his late quarter endurance. Fields could make this list on either side of the ball. Fields has the ability to play in a toe to heel line set or a spread. Sadly, Fields name won’t be mentioned in the newspapers or blogs up until in the off-season awards- the life of a lineman. When you see Dillon, Hatfield, and the Miners of Matewan putting up big numbers- remember to associate that directly with the play up front led by Fields.
5) Jordan Dempsey (RB/WR) Fayetteville
6’0 170 Junior
Fayetteville returned to their glory in 2016 after a stellar regular season and march to the semi-finals of the Single A Playoffs. Will Fenton, Dalton Dempsey, and Jordan Dempsey were the trio to take them there. Jordan, however, is the only one returning to the pirate ship. As a sophomore compiled 1,129 yards on the ground with 19 touchdowns and another 241 yards and 3 touchdowns catching Fenton passes. There is no doubt that his touches will increase with his partners in crime gone. Fayetteville might not reach the level it did the previous year, but Dempsey will no doubt have spectacular numbers. He’s a skillful player with enough athleticism to dominate the gorge taking into account the growth usually seen from sophomore to junior year.
6) Grant Mohler (RB) James Monroe
5’10 190 Senior
Grant Mohler has one of the more impressive highlight films with a less than exciting stat line (902 yards with 12 touchdowns). However, we trust the eye in the sky over the dots and the lines. Mohler was a key part in the deep playoff run of the Mavericks who eventually fell to the powerhouse that is Mingo Central. Mohler has a knack for hitting holes and escaping tackles. The formula for success has been found in Lindside and Mohler is a profound piece to this equation. His senior year is guaranteed to have more touches, more experience, and an overall exceptional performance.
7) Adam Vance (QB) Chapmanville
6’1 185 Senior
Vance leads a Chapmanville team that explodes offensively. Last season, Vance threw for an impressive 2055 yards and 19 touchdowns with only six interceptions. His top receiver, Dylan Smith, is back to catch passes and he goes into year two within this system. From the beginning of last season to the end, the increase in points per game was noticeable. The air raid is starting to thrive for the Tigers. Their schedule is favorable and it is very apparent Chapmanville will finish above .500 and be a dark horse in the post season. Vance’s film is full of deep bombs, extended plays, and consistent short darts. His arm talent is on par with the top quarterbacks in The Mountain State.
8) Matt McKinney (LB) Independence
5’11 170 Senior
The lone defender on the list is the representative of the Independence defense. Connor Gibson and Logan Muncy are both returning pieces to a defensive unit that kept its opponent under 14 points in eight of their eleven games. McKinney is the alpha dog of this unit. He is small in size, but his downhill play evens out the weight disparity. He’s an efficient tackler that can do well in space. If he’s added a little size and strength without negating his quick play- he could make a case to end up being our Coalfield Region Defensive Player of the Year. He recorded 85 tackles the previous season; we can expect an increase in that department. Independence’s schedule and return of talent pits them to replicate and improve on their results.
Micah Hancock (RB) Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Ferris (RB) Midland Trail, David Early (QB) Logan
Offense of the Year: Chapmanville Tigers
Defense of the Year: Independence Patriots
Hardest Schedule: Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles
Underclassman of the Year: Drew Hatfield (WR) Mingo Central
Biggest Rivalry Game: Fayetteville Pirates vs Midland Trail Patriots