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.
“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.
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
|1||08/29/14 07:30PM||A||LINCOLN COUNTY||–|
|5||09/26/14 07:30PM||H||GALLIA ACADEMY,OH H.S.||–|
|6||10/03/14 07:30PM||H||PARKERSBURG SOUTH||–|
|7||10/10/14 07:30PM||A||OAK HILL||–|
|9||10/24/14 07:30PM||H||SHADY SPRING||–|
|wins: 0 lost: 0 ties: 0|