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.”
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
|2||09/05/14 07:30PM||A||SPRING VALLEY||–|
|3||09/12/14 07:30PM||H||WOODROW WILSON||–|
|4||09/19/14 07:30PM||A||CABELL MIDLAND||–|
|8||10/24/14 07:30PM||A||ST. ALBANS||–|
|9||10/31/14 07:30PM||A||SOUTH CHARLESTON||–|
|wins: 0 lost: 0 ties: 0|