Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

SUPER SIX - AAA FINALS, NOON TODAY ; Focused Capital Collides with Dynamic Park

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

SUPER SIX - AAA FINALS, NOON TODAY ; Focused Capital Collides with Dynamic Park

Article excerpt

WHEELING - It's not often that the turning point of a team's season follows a loss, especially to one of its arch rivals, but that appears to be the case with Capital. The Cougars are back in the Class AAA championship game today, bidding for their second straight crown when they take on Wheeling Park in a noon kickoff at Island Stadium.

Capital (10-2), the No. 4 seed, seeks its fifth state title, while the No. 3 Patriots (11-1-1) are gunning for their first since the Ohio County consolidated school opened in 1976.

The defending champion Cougars, however, were looking vulnerable during the regular season, especially following a dispirited 32-21 loss at George Washington on Oct. 16. Following that game, GW students stormed the field and celebrated with their players for a long time.

In one end zone, Capital coach Jon Carpenter kept his team on the field long after he'd given his usual post-game talk. He wanted his players to watch the Patriots' party and have it burn into their memory banks. The ploy seems to have worked, as the Cougars knocked off No. 5 Martinsburg and No. 1 Cabell Midland the past two weeks to get back to the finals.

"I think we're focused, Carpenter said. "I think we've had it ever since GW danced on us that night. I think we've had the [proper] focus for what's been going on since then.

In Wheeling Park, Capital will face one of the state's most balanced teams - the Patriots can beat you running or throwing the ball, on special teams or on defense. They allowed only 93 points during the regular season - tops among all AAA teams - and have permitted just 28 so far in three playoff games.

For instance, senior receiver Jamez Coles has been Park's No. 4 receiver in terms of catches much of the season, but in last week's 35-14 semifinal win at previously unbeaten Point Pleasant, Coles broke the bank with three touchdowns, two on long receptions and another on a 7-yard run. He also had three TDs called back by penalty - one an 81-yard punt return.

Coles has brought back five punts for scores so far this season and kicker Chase Gheen has booted seven field goals.

"He's like a No. 1 guy, Carpenter said of Coles. "He catches a lot of balls and he's pretty good.

"They're dangerous because they're pretty balanced, and because they're pretty good.

Park's acknowledged No. 1 receiver, Elijah Bell, is making a late push for Kennedy Award consideration as the state's top player with 46 catches for 1,142 yards and 16 TDs. Bell has hauled in two scoring passes in each of his team's first three playoff games.

Making Park's receiving corps even more dangerous is the presence of 217-pound senior running back Savion Johnson, himself a top Kennedy candidate, who's blasted his way for 1,770 yards and 26 TDs. Play-action fakes to Johnson open up big holes in the passing game for sophomore quarterback Cross Wilkinson and his stable of receivers. …

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