By: Wes McKinney

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A season ago, Huntington hung its hat on a hard-nosed rushing attack and stout defense that only allowed 10.2 points per game, only giving up more than 20 points once. That group of Highlanders achieved an undefeated regular season before eventually falling to Martinsburg in the Class AAA state championships game, 9-7.

A few of key pieces gone from that 2013 team include running backs Nick Tubbs, Paden Christian and Charles Crawford.

“I don’t think you can fully replace what those guys brought to the table,” Huntington head coach Billy Seals said. “Nick was a tremendous and you could move him around create matchup issues for other teams. Paden Christian was the heart and soul of our team — a hard-nosed fullback. You knew exactly what you were going to get out of him each and every Friday night.”

The recipe for success will remain for Huntington as the Highlanders still return a stable of running backs, along with an inexperienced, but aggressive offensive line.

“Offensively, Brandon Morrison was a kid that started at cornerback for us,” Seals said. “We are going to put him in the backfield along Stefan Gibbs and Bryce Clark. Clark Wilson is back at quarterback this year and he’s gotten better from last year. We lost four out of five offensive lineman, but we finally look like an offensive line.”

Four of the five projected starters for the Highlanders check out at over 250 pounds, including junior Myles Robertson (6’4”, 320 pounds), sophomore Billy Ross (6’4”, 275 pounds), Charles Farrell (6’2”, 265 pounds) and the lone starting returnee, senior center Josh Fraley (6’0”, 260 pounds).

“We have some guys that are going to be green, but I think they will be good football players for us,” Seals said.

Four pivotal road games for the Highlanders highlight the rugged MSAC schedule.

“You look at our road schedule this year and it’s pretty daunting — at Spring Valley, at Capital, at South Charleston and at Cabell Midland,” Seals said. “That’s going to be the tale of the tape for us, how well we play on the road.”

Ben Queen/MetroNews photo

Huntington coach Billy Seals led his team to the Class AAA state championship game a season ago as the Highlanders fell to Martinsburg, 9-7.

A season ago, those four teams combined to go 33-12.

“We have to come prepared to play and not live on last year,” Seals said “Last season is over and this is a new football team with a new direction.”

And while the Huntington football team fell just a field-goal-shy of winning its own championship, the Highlanders last year did go on to win the Class AAA boys basketball title.

“I know (Huntington head basketball coach) Ron Hess said told me after they won the state basketball tournament that ‘Arick Nicks playing football was the best thing that ever happened to Huntington High basketball because he was more physical,'” Seals said.

Now, Seals will set sights on winning Huntington’s first ever football championship.

“As a coaching staff we put more pressure on ourselves  than anyone can put on us,” he said. “We love the game and we love to put the work in. I think the pressure is always there if you’re a competitor.”

2014 Football Schedule
08/29/14 07:30PM  H  HURRICANE  
09/05/14 07:30PM  A  SPRING VALLEY  
09/12/14 07:30PM  H  WOODROW WILSON  
09/19/14 07:30PM  A  CABELL MIDLAND  
09/26/14 07:30PM  H  RIPLEY  
10/03/14 07:30PM  A  CAPITAL  
10/17/14 07:30PM  H  PARKERSBURG  
10/24/14 07:30PM  A  ST. ALBANS  
10/31/14 07:30PM  A  SOUTH CHARLESTON  
10  11/07/14 07:30PM  H  WINFIELD  
 wins: 0   lost: 0   ties: 0
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  • In The Know

    Obviously Mburg is team to beat, but HHS and Capital are going to be there right to the end. I think we will see a rematch of last years championship game. Both Capital and HHS will have a tough road in the regular season. Great athletes for both teams, should be very interesting to see how it shakes out.

    • wheelingparkfootball101

      even though Capital and Hunigton has a tough schedule well Martinsburg has a even tougher schedule then both teams combined like state college pa, sherando va, HD Woodson, and Tuscroora va. i just dont see any WV team except for Martinsburg playing these teams. The teams that Martinsburg plays are way tougher teams then Hunigton or Capital. im just saying because its the Truth. If martinsburg wins against these teams i just dont really see Capital or Hunigton coming close to beating martiunsburg. The bulldogs defense is way better this year then last year and their offense is going to be so explosive.

  • In The Know

    Great D, great players and the staff continous to get better. Coach Seals has made another key addition this year after adding one last year to the defensive side of the ball. Two straight years, he has been able to bring former head coaches on board, which brings great knowlegde and experience to the defensive side of the ball. I see know reason why the defense will not continue to stay dominant.

  • hhs alum

    that is a shame. talented kid evidently being led astray somewhere did not know he wasnt showing up.... happens too often when a kid doesnt do what it takes to succeed.

  • hhs alum

    Amazing that with all that Seals mentioned, that he didnt mention Donte Hendricks who is back at hhs after a thousand yard year at Midland. Probably the most exciting back in the state this coming year. HMM!

    • hhsdad

      Probably because the Hendricks kid barely shows up too practice. Those other kids are out there busting their butts and he shows up maybe two or three times a month .

  • Mburg

    I agree that Huntington will be a contender in AAA as they continue to improve. I also believe that Capital has an excellent team that they will need to get pass to achieve their dreams. Good luck to all the teams in the coming season - be safe.

  • Steve

    There are a tremendous amount of athletes at Huntington. If they continue to be physical they should be a constant contender in AAA. The only thing they need to improve on is throwing the ball consistently.

  • D

    I believe Seals calls the defense. One of the best I have seen in high school football. No weakness

    • really

      I would suggest watching Martinsburgs defense.... since defense wins championships and they have won the last four!!!

  • Cap

    Huntington will be back in the championship and this time will win it all! I was most impressed with the Defensive Backs last year and two of them are returning. I also enjoyed watching the Nicks brothers. They must have a hell of a defensive coaching staff to do the things they did last year.

    • park101

      your right about Hunigtons defense was very good last year but Martinsburg also was down last year and this year Martinsburgs offense has so many weapons its unbelievbale. so If Hunigton play Martinsburg again in the Championchip look for martinsburg to try to run up the score becasue last year Martinsburg was a one demensional team but this year they will be a huge powerhouse.

    • really

      wow...I guess second best defense is not bad!
      Martinsburg definetly had the better D!
      Gave HHS 7 points and that came on 30 yds. of penalties!! Remember???

      • hhsdad

        Martinsburg defense was good but Hhs offense wasn't ranked number one I thought that was the bulldogs. So for Hhs defense to hold them to nine points in the championship game... Yeah Hhs was the number one defense last year..

        • sugarbear12

          Martinsburg fan. Your right hhsdad. Huntington did have the best defense in the state. I was at the game and Martinsburg played there best defense game of the season on D that day. Don't think Huntington's offense would have gotten past midfield against Hunt. D.

  • D

    Have turned HHS into a program that is tough. Have been athletic for years but did not play physical football. Now with athletes and physical style of play gives them chances to win every game

  • EP Power

    Turning into a nice program.....given time they will get that football state championship.