POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — After 11 wins and a run into the quarterfinals of the 2013 Class AAA playoffs, Point Pleasant returns the bulk of that team with hopes of taking an even further step in the state’s highest classification.

Pt. Pleasant lost just one starter off of that 2013 squad offensively in senior Chase Walton – the Big Blacks also return eight starters on the defensive side of the ball.

“We led the state last year in scoring and we’re pretty excited about what we can do offensively,” said coach David Darst. “We’re pretty optimistic about being able to put together a very competitive football team this year. Offensively, we feel like we’re way ahead of the game than we were last year at this time.

“Our kids have worked really hard and they knew we had a good group coming back,” he continued. “Our offseason weight-lifting and conditioning has been outstanding.”

Leading the way for Pt. Pleasant offensively will be rising junior running back Cody Mitchell who averaged 7.4 yards per carry last year, totaling 1,431 yards and 18 touchdowns. In all, he accounted for 2,068 all-purpose yards, while defensively recording 64 tackles, collecting two interceptions and two fumble recoveries as well.

More: Expectations unwavering for 4-time Class AAA defending champ Martinsburg

“The sky is the limit for Cody,” Darst said. “He’s an outstanding athlete and is getting a lot of (college) looks, we’ve had a lot of schools talking to us. He is just a leader for us – he came in last year as our top offensive player and we’re blessed to have him for two more years.”

Mitchell’s father (Darrell) is a former scholarship player at WVU (tight end from 1987-90) and his brother Derek walked-on at Marshall in 2009 where he eventually became a scholarship player with the Herd.

The younger 6-foot-3, 211-pound Mitchell has already picked up a scholarship offer from Marshall earlier this summer.

“Marshall has talked to us and he has an opportunity there if he takes that,” Darst said. “But we’re just going through the summer now and seeing what he wants to do. He’s only a junior, so there’s no pressure on him to do anything yet.

“He just makes plays all over the field and we’re excited for him,” Darst continued. “He has just worked so hard and he’s one of those kids who loves to play the game. We know he will end up where he’s going to be happy and that’s what we want for him.”

The Big Blacks also have plenty of other talent returning, including senior quarterback Aden Yates who completed 75 percent of his passes last year for 1,242 yards and 14 touchdowns. He added 162 yards on the ground with three more scores as well.

Wes McKinney/MetroNews

Point Pleasant quarterback Aden Yates heads into his senior season after completing 75 percent of his passes in 2013.

One of the guys up-front blocking for Yates and Mitchell will be 6-foot-7, 308-pound sophomore Seth Stewart. The Big Blacks also return senior defensive end standouts Jon Peterson and Brian Gibbs.

“Aden led the state in completion percentages the last two years – he’s an outstanding football player and we will let him play a little bit of defense this year,” Darst said. “A lot of schools are also looking at Seth who just turned 15 years old – he’s an exciting young kid for us. All of our offensive linemen are back.”

Schedule-wise, Pt. Pleasant will play just nine regular season games, adding Wayne back to the schedule, along with a close rivalry matchup with Gallia Academy, Ohio.

“We’re sitting at nine games this season and I don’t foresee us picking up a 10th,” Darst said. “We’re open the last two weeks of the year, which will be pretty difficult.”

The Big Blacks are entering their third year back at the Class AAA level as the smallest school (enrollment wise) in the classification. Pt. Pleasant lost in the playoffs last year to Wheeling Park – a school that is more than double its size.

“When we first went back into Class AAA, we kind of had the chip that we needed to let people know we were still going to play,” Darst said. “But the transition has been good in football. The kids have really accepted the challenge and they get excited about it. Right now, we’re at the point where we feel like we can compete with most of the teams out there.

“Obviously there are three or four teams that are outstanding every year in the state,” he continued. “We’re hoping that this year is one of those years where we can get ourselves into the final four and then who knows what happens from there.”

2014 Football Schedule

08/29/14 07:30PM  A  LINCOLN COUNTY  
09/05/14 07:30PM  A  RIPLEY  
09/12/14 07:30PM  H  WAYNE  
09/19/14 07:30PM  H  LOGAN  
09/26/14 07:30PM  H  GALLIA ACADEMY,OH H.S.  
10/03/14 07:30PM  H  PARKERSBURG SOUTH  
10/10/14 07:30PM  A  OAK HILL  
10/17/14 07:30PM  A  RAVENSWOOD  
10/24/14 07:30PM  H  SHADY SPRING  
 wins: 0   lost: 0   ties: 0
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  • Out Wayne

    It's not like Wayne is your run of the mill AA opponent... Point Pleasant schedules as best they can outside of the MSAC. They are facing the same geographic issues that plagued them as a AAA before they dropped down in...what, 2004?

    Very solid program. Staff does a good job with those kids.

    • Mburg

      Out Wayne - most of the teams from the Eastern Panhandle travel long distances to complete their schedules. Last season Mburg travelled about 5 hours to play state college. Morgantown is about 3 hours. - can't find one additional school within. 3 hours?

      • Out Wayne

        It's not that easy. Ohio schools are almost all in conferences/in year 2 of 2 year deals. The MSAC swallows up about 40% of the AAA schools.

        Scheduling around here is rough, too. It's why Wayne, for instance, schedules Bluefield yearly (3 hours) and has played James Monroe (3-1/2), Magnolia (in Ripley, halfway for each, 1:30 or so there, not bad), Shelby Valley, Ky (2 hours), and is in a conference with Mingo Central, which is 2 hours away. Heck Wayne scrimmaged Fairmont Sr. home and home in 2011 and 2012.

        Point being, it's not simple. Point Pleasant has played Brooke and Oak Glen recently. Scheduling the MSAC schools is impossible. Gallia Academy is directly across the river from them. Ravenswood is just 30-45 minutes away. You need rivals and gate $$$. I think PP does the best they can. They aren't right next to an Interstate, either.

        • Mburg

          Thanks for the very detailed explanation. It is not easy for us in the EP to understand what happens in other areas of the state. We have 6 AAA schools in the EP so it's easy to get in conference games. It's the out of conference games that is difficult to get. That said, thanks for clarifying.

  • Aaron

    9 games that include 2 AA teams and an out of state that's at best AA, even an undefeated season could result on an opening round road game. To think what they could have done in AA ball.

    • Dogsfan

      I agree they could have done some damage possibly at AA

  • Dogsfan

    Gonna be tough for pp to make the finals with only 9 games no room to lose and more an likely will have to travel to Martinsburg or Capital.

  • Terry

    Will be pretty interesting..

  • Mburg fan

    In triple A? Capital has an excellent young team and will probably make the finals this year. Huntington should also be close. And, don't count out Martinsburg - they are probably better this year than they were last year but so are the other two teams discussed earlier. Point Pleasant's schedule looks a little suspect. Hope they do well.

    • Dogsfan

      Martinsburg should definitely be better should have a better defense and won't be so one dimensional like last years team.

  • rick

    this will be one of the two teams left standing in the finals.

    • jm

      VERY VERY doubtful. They will have to go through both Capital and Martinsburg to do that. I can almost guarantee that they can not match up with either. Both of those teamsare on the island this year.