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.
Princeton has not made the playoffs since the pre-Chris Pedigo era that began last year. 2017 felt a lot of bumps and bruises- mostly from past decisions. With Princeton not being allowed to play anyone within the MSAC due to their buyout, it has crippled their schedule in terms of travel. We haven’t tallied it up, but there is a good chance between 2017 and 2018, they will travel more than any other team with trips to Musselman, Ripley, and Wheeling Park this season.
Coach Pedigo and his experienced staff do appear to be making strides. In their spread-based offense and blitz-happy defense, several star names are beginning to rise to the surface. We caught wind of Ranson Graham, an offensive Swiss Army Knife, and have been impressed with everything we have seen. He has seen snaps at quarterback but als, at wide receiver. Basically, wherever they can get him to make plays.
Another potential all-state candidate is Chiron Cannady. He has awesome length and will hopefully be highlighted in their scheme of defense. Cannady will easily outsize the receivers he goes up against on a weekly basis. The Tigers appear to be more consistent at the linebacker position but the offensive-defensive lines, in general, raise a lot of of questions. With their schedule, they need to be answered fast. It is hard to tell how much they improve this year, but we do believe they will. Princeton opens up with Buckhannon Upshur on August 24th.
The Toughest of Roads
Woodrow Wilson has been in a rut the last few seasons. In the last two seasons, Woodrow has compiled a record of 2-18- very similar to other Coalfield AAA’s. With a 2017 12-7 win over rival Greenbrier East and a 2016 2OT win over Bluefield, they have proven to deliver in clutch situations. A big change going forth will be replacing a three-year starting quarterback. The good news is that the Flying Eagles are set to have many experienced players return and should have few players on the field with unfamiliar faces.
Watchlist lineman Ian Pomeroy, junior, and Colton Wright, senior, will anchor both sides of the line. Both will match up size-wise in the MSAC and hold their own. In the defensive middle is returning starter Nick Wickline. Coach Street Sarrett’s two valuable weapons on offensive will come in runningback Micah Hancock and wide receiver Logan Cook, who both battled injuries in 2017.
The bad news is that Woodrow Wilson has one of the toughest schedules in the state. This road includes AAA powerhouses Huntington, Capital, Cabell Midland, Parkersburg, and Hurricane as well reigning AA champ Bluefield. It’s a tough road indeed. They will be favored in a few games but will need some upsets to make a run. They open up August 24th at Riverside.
This is… Lewisburg?
Out of the three AAAs in the Coalfields region, Greenbrier East actually had the most wins. At 2-8, it definitely wasn’t a banner year for Ray Lee and company. After coming off a stint of successful seasons, the Spartans have seen back-to-back down years. Hopefully, that changes behind a much more consistent offensive scheme and improved defense.
Jaylon Battaile is the horse to watch here. He is a bit bigger sized and also has the wheels to be a big-play runner. Finding out if he can take 20+ carries a game seems to be the big question. Regardless, as long as they have him, the offense has a chance to move the ball.
Last season, the Spartans faced woes at quarterback. After the QB-to-be was injured the same game he had a career performance, you could definitely see the wind let out of Lewisburg. Whoever mans that position this year will have a great target in Colby Piner, who proved to be a consistent pass catcher from week one to week eleven.
Defensively lies their biggest problem. They will play several smashmouth run teams like Woodrow Wilson, Bluefield, Ripley, and Riverside. Whether or not youngin’s like Nate Baker rise in the middle, could really decide the direction this team goes. Greenbrier East plays no patty cake road but nothing brutal. They open up at James Monroe August 24th.
Since there is no other AAA schools in this region, we look at the possibility over the next reclassification. If Oak Hill acquires Single A Fayetteville, they will definitely be close to being bumped up to AAA again where they had decent success in the mid-2010’s. Also, Shady Spring would be included in that bubble if they decided to expand AAA again. The Tigers went to the AA semifinals a year prior to going up and went on a strand of 1 or 2 win seasons for several years. It would also be interesting to see how close Nicholas County would be if they ever obtained Richwood- a very resisted move. Overall, in AAA, all three teams look to be moving forward rather than picking up the pieces.
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!