ONA — A sure way to ruin a good team is for its players to become selfish.
No. 2 Cabell Midland High School’s football players haven’t done that this season in going 13-0 and earning a spot in the Class AAA state championship game at noon Saturday vs. top-seeded and four-time defending champion Martinsburg (13-0) at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Some injured players, notably defensive back Chandler Schmidt and running back Jaydyn Johnson, returned to the Knights lineup Friday night in a 31-0 victory over Spring Valley. Both performed well, as coach Luke Salmons pointed out, but Salmons also credited those who played in place of those two standouts who have been out since the first week of the season.
“The kids who stepped in did great,” Salmons said. “That’s how it’s been all year. That tells you about the character of these guys. With all the injuries, they didn’t flinch. That tells you a lot about our team.”
Salmons promised his team won’t flinch against Martinsburg, either, even though the Bulldogs have outscored opponents by an average of 61-6. The Bulldogs pounded No. 4 Parkersburg South 77-20 Saturday afternoon and have won 55 consecutive games. While the veteran coach didn’t guarantee a victory, neither did he concede defeat.
“We’re not the biggest team, but our kids believe in each other, in our team and in our program,” Salmons said. “They’re tough and they’re good kids — so coachable. We’ve had different guys running the ball. Different guys playing various positions. They like playing together. There’s no individual who considers himself above another on this team.”
Cabell Midland was dominant against Spring Valley, which it beat 28-21 in the regular season. Timberwolves coach Brad Dingess, who took his team to the state title game each of the last three seasons only to loe to Martinsburg, said he is impressed with the Knights.
“We went 11-2 and those two losses came to the team that’s playing in the state championshiop game,” Dingess said. “I’m proud of our guys and everything they’ve done.”
As usual, Cabell Midland used a powerful running game on Friday, with Jakob Caudill rushing for 138 of the knights’ 294 yards. Quarterback J.J. Roberts ran for 86 yards out of the option attack.