Salmons puts Pettit in charge of Midland stable
ONA -- Cabell Midland High School football coach Luke Salmons likes to think of quarterback Coy Pettit as a supervisor. The sophomore's job is to direct the offense and let backs David Gaydosz, Lowell Farley, Kasey Thomas and Stephen Matthews be the playmakers.
So far, the Knights are 12-0, ranked No. 1 in Class AAA in West Virginia and top-seeded in the playoffs. That translates to high marks for Pettit on game management. The smooth operator brings out the best in the surrounding speed and talent and doesn't turn the ball over.
"He's smart, understands the system and is very consistent," Salmons said.
The Knights run a no-huddle offense, meaning when a play ends they return to the line for the next snap. Pettit looks over to Salmons for the call, makes sure everyone's in the right spot and off they go.
Coming into the season, Pettit knew it would be that way. Handoffs first, passes when necessary.
"He accepted the role," Salmons said. "He understands what we're doing."
Cabell Midland attempted just two passes -- one by Pettit and one by Gaydosz on a halfback option -- in last week's 28-26 win over No. 8 Spring Valley at home. Gaydosz and Farley both ran for more than 100 yards. Gaydosz ran for one TD and Farley scored three times.
The win set up a semifinal date against No. 5 Morgantown at 7:30 p.m., Friday, at Cabell Midland. The Mohigans (10-2) advanced with a 35-14 win last Friday at No. 4 Huntington High.
Salmons said Pettit has made big strides since Aug. 24 when the Knights beat Spring Valley, 21-13, at home in the season opener. He completed 2 of 4 passes for seven yards. The running game produced 297 yards -- standard operating procedure each week.
"He was nervous. There's a lot of responsibility in our system," Salmons said. "He'll continue to get better."
"Don't mess up," Pettit said when asked how he approached opening night. "Each week I get more confident."
This is the second year for Salmons at Cabell Midland, so Pettit knew how the offense worked when he went under center. And now this deep into season two, there's little confusion.
"I've done it so long it's like second nature," Pettit said.
Entering Friday's game, Gaydosz is approaching 2,000 rushing yards and has 26 touchdowns. Farley's near 1,500 yards and has 19 TDs.
"It takes a lot of stress off," Pettit said of Cabell Midland's potent ground game.
And when Gaydosz takes off on one of those highlight-reel TD runs, Pettit looks on in amazement.
"I think, "Wow! Did he just do that?' " Pettit said.
Through the air, Pettit has 681 yards, five TD passes and five interceptions. His big moment came in Week 8 when he hooked up with Thomas on a 66-yard TD pass in a 21-13 win at Capital. Having the big offensive line hold off the pass rush helps, too.
"That was a big play. Defenses had to back off and respect the pass," Salmons said. "With the line, I know I'm not going to get hit. It's stay in the pocket and make the throw."
For Morgantown, the Knights will most likely key on Shane Commodore. He rambled for 241 yards and four touchdowns -- all in the first half -- to power the Mohigans to their first road playoff win since 1996. They had 432 yards in total offense with 374 via the run. They limited Huntington High to 211 total yards.
Morgantown's two losses were to Ohio power Steubenville (20-14) and defending state champion Martinsburg (56-28). The Mohigans have been a Class AAA playoff regular and has won four state titles since 2000 (2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005).
"Anybody left now is a good football team," Salmons said. "They're big, physical and well coached."
In Friday's other semifinal, No. 3 George Washington visits No. 2 Martinsburg at 1:30 p.m. The semifinal winners will meet for the championship at noon, Saturday, Dec. 1, at Wheeling Island Stadium.