Applemen out to gain respect

November 20, 1998|By MARK KELLER

BUNKER HILL, W.Va. - There are distinct disadvantages to playing football in the Eastern Panhandle. Just ask Musselman coach Denny Price.

"It's tough to get recognition for the team and for All-State," Price said. "They just don't get much news about us here in the Panhandle."

Depending on how you look at it, that lack of recognition could be an advantage for the Applemen when they play Capital at home in the quarterfinal round Saturday.

Capital, along with Huntington, Parkersburg and Morgantown, are perennial powers in the Class AAA ranks. Musselman, in just its third year as a Class AAA school, has not yet worked its way into the same group as those teams.


Not even with the No. 1 seed in this year's tournament.

"We realize that they're not pointing at us as a favorite. They haven't seen us play," Price said. "I'm sure Capital feels very strongly that if they come in here and play their game, they're going to win. I have no doubt that's their mindset."

Price contributes the relative lack of respect for the Panhandle schools to the fact that no team from the area has won a Class AAA title.

"But we've only got four schools here," Price quickly adds. "Compare that to the number of schools in other parts of the state.

"But I think we've proven ourselves here. Hedgesville, Martinsburg, Jefferson ... when we've played outside the area we've done well, been very competitive," Price said.

Still, there are legitimate reasons why folks throughout the state recognize Capital (8-3) as a power. In the 10-year existence of the school, only once has the team not made the playoffs. And this is the first year that the Cougars, the No. 9 seed, have been in the bottom half of the 16-team field.

"This is by far the most athletic team we'll have faced," Price said. "They've got great skill players and great speed. They have three guys off of the 4x100 state champion relay team out there. So speed is what they bring to the table."

By the same token, the Applemen (11-0) have some speed in Todd Mosby and Kevin Dingus. And last week, they discovered Jason Chambers, a power back who led the team with 78 rushing yards against Spring Valley. Chambers will be counted on to spell Trevor Shade, who gained a team-high 1,073 yards on the ground this year.

"That's a given. He'll get more carries," Price said. "The thing now is keeping them fresh. Chambers is a little better blocker, and Trevor reads the blockers very well."

And as far as pressure goes, well ... let the people think Capital is the favorite.

"We don't feel the pressure of being No. 1 or the pressure of this game," Price said. "We have the same mindset. After looking at the tape, we're confident. Things like execution and breaks - those things will be the keys."

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