The Coalfields Region is one of the most historic in the state. Ranging over the southeastern counties of West Virginia, it features tons of schools that used to be AAA that have now fallen down to the lowest classification. The AA state champion has come from here the past two seasons, now. AAA is not as successful with only three schools present. We’re taking this week to look at what to expect out of the Coalfields Region.
The Holy Trail
Midland Trail lived up to many expectations and exceeded many as well. One of the deeper teams in all of Single A cruised through the regular season with few challengers. Only a AA power in Nicholas County tacked a notch in their loss column. Behind Thomas Ferris and over 2,000 yards of rushing, Frank Isaacs and the Patriots won their way to the quarterfinals. There, they lost on a goalline fumble to the hotstreak Summers County Bobcats.
It was a tough loss to say the least. Players like Ferris and Dillon Brasse, and other seniors, played their final prep snaps. Unlike many other Single A programs, this is not the end of the world. They return a deep skillset including returning QB Austin Isaacs, RB Morgan Ferris, WR Noah Minor, LB Cordell Lesher, and OL/DL’s Trevor Harrell and Hunter Jones. All are all-state caliber players.
It’s hard to favorite anyone over the returning champ, but we can all agree Midland Trail will be a Top 5 team again. They have high caliber players at every spot which is the sign of a promising squad on that level. We hope to see Midland Trail excel again. They open up at Independence on August 24th.
Water & Wood
Down in the Coalfields Region lies two teams that could be the dark horses of the entire state. The Sherman Tide and the Richwood Lumberjacks. The Tide, last year, travelled to Weirton and took out Madonna on their home turf to advance to quarterfinals where they would lose tough eventually. Richwood stayed in it with South Harrison until Freddie Canary took stronghold of the run game.
Between the two: who do WE go with? It’s hard to say. Sherman possesses an electric JT Hensley at QB and DB- also, two of the top lineman in the state with Layne Daniel and Justin Hawkins. Their first-ups are definitely talented; the overall depth might bring a question.
Richwood, on the other hand, seems to have more men in the skill positions like QB Caleb Jantuah, RB Jeremiah Johnston, and WR Michael McGee. Johnston is the key to this ground-heavy offense as he is a back that can take 20+ carries every game. A true horse while Jantuah also runs but can hit big plays to McGee.
Both teams will play the top single A’s multiple times, so the question of if they are a weekly threat or a flash in the pan will be answered. Either way, they will be exciting to watch. Richwood opens up on the 24th of August against high-ranked Webster County and Sherman travels to dangerous Magnolia the same night.
Our Coalfields Ratings were one our best successes yet whether or not many paid attention. They predicted 9/10 of the playoffs. However, two teams really flip-flopped it all: Summers County and Webster County. They did so in different ways and strangely enough, played each other twice in 2017.
Summers County did get hot defensively. With a narrrow midseason win over Webster County, they got to rematch the one-loss first round where they beat them even worse despite having an almost equal rating. The Bobcats then took out Midland Trail who, according to the ratings, should have blew them out. Of course, they did fall to Wheeling Central in the semifinals.
A big difference is that Summers County loses tenacious QB Tucker Lilly and Single A Lineman of the Year Andrew Richmond. Webster County retains both RB/LBs Luke Hardway and Jordan Dancy (all-state talents). The Bobcats do have watch list skill players Keandre Sarver, Christian Pack, and Marcus McGuire.
Both teams came out of thin air, it seemed, in 2017. It’s interesting to see how Summers County fairs moving forward with a new quarterback and a reliance up front. Webster County appears to have returned their core men and are probably bitter over their early exit after a 9-1 season. Webster County opens at Richwood 8/24 and Summers County at AA PikeView the same day. They do not play in the regular season this year.
Pocahontas County looks to replace a large senior class that got them to the playoffs. Tug Valley also loses a bulk of 12th graders after a quarterfinalist season. Greenbrier West, Meadow Bridge, and Valley (Fayette) appear to be better but no exceptional jumps. Van will look for anyone to replace RB Brady Grant. Fayetteville will depend completely on Jordan Dempsey just like 2017. One of the most interesting teams in 2018 will be the Mount View Golden Knights. A promising young quarterback, Jesse Rose, to accompany watch list talents RB/LB Elijah Barner, WR Marqus Ray, DL/LB Ty Powell, and lineman Jashawn Collins. They will play a schedule with more teams their size which could get this program really rolling in the right direction.
FOOTBALL IS ALMOST HERE. Each week we will be diving into one of our four regions. We’ve sliced it up a little different to equal the spread of talent out. We have the Coalfields region, MD (Mason-Dixon) Panhandle region, North West region, and Valley region. We will spend a week on each in that order. Every week will include Monday: Single A, Tuesday: Double A, Wednesday: Triple A, Thursday: Preseason All-Region Team, Friday: Top 10 in the Region. Let’s get it!