Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PREP FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS - FIRST ROUND ; Capital Embraces Underdog Role, Begins Title Defense Today

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PREP FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS - FIRST ROUND ; Capital Embraces Underdog Role, Begins Title Defense Today

Article excerpt

This wasn't how 2015 was supposed to go, in Jon Carpenter's eyes.

"It's probably my fault. Sometimes I think I can't make my mind up whether I want to be a social activist or a football coach, Carpenter said in preparation for No. 4 seed and defending state champion Capital's Class AAA first-round playoff game at 1:30 p.m. today against No. 13 seed and first-time playoff entrant Spring Mills (7-3). Capital (7-2) won its first state football title since 1995 a year ago and returned quarterback and West Virginia commitment Tyrhee Pratt and a bevy of offensive starters to its lineup in 2015. However, the Cougars' lack of size at key spots - namely at running back and wide receiver - was exposed early in the season, and a rivalry loss to George Washington (7-3) late in the year soured what had been to that point a successful run to maintain home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

"It's been a wild season. They've been danced on and embarrassed a little bit. It's not the way they probably dreamed it would happen, Carpenter said.

But the sixth-year coach said the way the Cougars enter the playoffs might suit them best.

"I think we're better in this underdog role instead of everyone telling us how great we are, he said. "No doubt. We didn't handle success very well.

Capital will have a hard time pulling off the underdog role in the first round. The Cardinals, whose school came into existence just three years ago when Berkeley County split the districts of Hedgesville and Martinsburg high schools, brings talent but no playoff experience to University of Charleston Stadium.

In fact, the Cardinals look like they are still trying to find their identity.

"We started the season with Cory Wyttenbach at quarterback but we had a situation about three weeks ago where we wanted to do something different, Spring Mills coach Derek Munson said. "So, like a captain of the team, he was real receptive to the idea of moving out to the wideout position. …

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