The way the Cabell Midland football team has had to handle its schedule each week, coach Luke Salmons said it feels like a playoff game every week.
The lead-up to each game feels very similar, he said, thanks in great part to the COVID-19 pandemic that has made scheduling more difficult for teams across different sports across West Virginia.
“It kind of has that feel,” Salmons said. “You’re playing a good team and you don’t really know who you’ve got. Then you finally get a game and you have to play that.”
What the Knights, at No. 5 in the WVSSAC Class AAA playoff ratings, have in store at 7:30 p.m. Friday is a game that feels like a contest they would see late in the playoffs — a date at Class AAA No. 3 Hurricane. Both teams enter the game undefeated, Hurricane at 2-0 and Cabell Midland at 3-0.
That game with the Redskins was a last-minute creation, Salmons said. CMHS was looking for a game Saturday after the release of the West Virginia Department of Education’s COVID-19 alert map. Hurricane had a game scheduled against Lincoln County that was dashed due to COVID issues, and the Redskins and Knights came together for a showdown.
Chief on Cabell Midland’s radar is Hurricane quarterback Ismael Borrero, who scorched Parkersburg for seven touchdown passes in a 60-36 win last Friday. Yet Salmons knows the Redskins are not a one-player team.
“They’ve got some good receivers and a good running game, so they’re well balanced,” Salmons said. “They’re a playoff team. They’re in the playoffs every year, more or less. They’re big up front and defensively they always do an outstanding job.
“It’s a huge challenge and a big game,” he added. “Our kids like that.”
The Knights are led by running back Jakob Caudill, who has rushed for 448 yards and six touchdowns and has averaged 8.3 yards per carry over his team’s first three games. The Knights’ offensive line isn’t one that towers over foes physically, Salmons said, but its tenacity and toughness are traits few teams around the state can equal.
Those traits are found throughout the roster, Salmons said. CMHS hasn’t faced a close game yet this year. The Knights’ average margin of victory in their first three wins is more than 37 points per game.
Yet the team knows blowouts won’t be on the menu the entire season, and it doesn’t expect one Friday against the Redskins. That, Salmons said, is what excites the Knights so much about the matchup.
“They just want to play, want to win and want o compete,” Salmons said. “We’ve got some tough kids who want to play and we’ll be all right. It is a challenge, but let’s let them play. We’re excited just to have a game. If you can play this year, just play.”