ONA — Baseball fans know the troubles the New York Yankees have had with injuries, leading the team to adopt the mantra “Next man up” in reference to the numerous players who’ve filled in and produced in 2019.
Luke Salmons and the Class AAA No. 1 Cabell Midland football team can relate as injuries have taken their toll in the Knights’ backfield.
When Jaydyn Johnson and Isaiah Vaughn were lost to injuries, head coach Salmons was forced to shuffle his backfield roster around and those who didn’t figure to see much action this season are having to be Cabell Midland’s “next man up.”
Case in point, Hayden Hass, a 5-9, 160-pound senior who is an outside linebacker on defense, figured to see some action at wingback this season on offense. When Jayden Johnson went down, along with Chandler Schmidt followed by Isaiah Vaughn, Hass stepped into Vaughn’s position and Jaden Wroten moved into Johnson’s spot while J.J Roberts took over full time for Schmidt.
The Knights (6-0 overall, 6-0 Mountain State Athletic Conference) still feature starter Jakob Caudill as its power back. Hass, though, had a breakout game Friday against Riverside.
Hass led Midland with 13 carries in the 45-8 win over the Warriors. He had 94 yards and three touchdowns. On the season, Hass has five touchdowns and 313 net yards rushing on the season.
Hass had said he would like to at least match his three-TD performance this Friday when the Knights host Princeton (1-4) for homecoming at 7 p.m. at the Castle.
“I’ve always wanted to run tailback for Midland,” said Hass who said he grew up watching the Knights playoff teams. “I finally get the opportunity. I like a challenge. I’m that kind of guy.”
The Knights football squad is a “brotherhood” he said and added that filling in for Vaughn shows he has his team’s back and knows his teammates have his. Johnson echoed those statements.
“We all practiced (the positions),” said Johnson, who said he will still be on crutches for two more weeks when he will learn his status for the rest of the season. “I knew (Hass) would be ready.
Hass said the team is always ready to play and even homecoming won’t distract the Knights from the business at hand — defeating the Tigers.
Salmons said the Tigers will bring a spread offense to the Castle but advised the team’s record is deceptive because it’s been tough.
“They play good football,” Salmons said. “I know their coach is new and they’re trying to get going. Defensively, they’ll run 4-6 front, we don’t know for sure, but that’s what we’re preparing for.”
The receiver, 6-3, 170-pound junior Ethan Parsons, will be catching passes from a freshman quarterback in Grant Cochran. Princeton’s defense is surrendering an average of 32.2 points per game, including 42 in a loss Friday to Graham, Virginia.
Salmons’ goal for Cabell Midland is to escape the Tigers with a homecoming win and no further injuries.
“We tell them that all the time that you’ll never know what’s going to happen,” the coach said. “One year in the state championship we had nine starters out on defense. Whatever you’re dealt with you just got to get the kids ready to come and play.”
The Knights know, though, that with any injury they’ll simply look to the next man up.