HHS maturing as a team
HUNTINGTON — On the surface, it seems as though like things have gone really smooth for Huntington High’s football team in 2018.
Huntington High is 4-0 on the year and tied for No. 2 in Class AAA with Spring Valley.
Still, Huntington High coach Billy Seals said success for the Highlanders goes beyond wins and losses, and after a pair of lackluster wins to start the season, Seals called a team meeting in hopes of figuring out the issues and solving them.
“We had some things going on inside our program that I felt prohibited us from being as good as we could be,” Seals said. “We aired all the dirty laundry in the team meeting, people said what they needed to say and since then, we’ve been a different football team. After that, we’ve been playing some pretty good football.”
Getting players who range from 15 to 18 years old to not only open up to one another, but to be honest is a tough task in itself.
However, Seals said the most important thing for his players to do is be honest with each other and that doing so is vital for them to grow as teammates and young men.
“One thing that kids struggle with today is correcting a teammate when they are wrong because everyone wants to be buddy-buddy,” Seals said. “The bottom line is that we all don’t have to love each other, but we all have to have the same purpose. As long as we have the same purpose, I think we’re headed
in the right direction.”
That meeting came following the team’s win at Riverside (24-8) when the team squandered opportunities to break the game open and looked out of sync. It also came off the heels of a 17-9 win over Belfry (Ky.) in which Huntington had chances to open up a threescore lead in the second half, but faltered and opened the door for the Pirates to make the game interesting down the stretch.
Following that meeting, the Highlanders looked like a different team.
They overcame weather adversity that delayed the start of their contest against George Washington a nd stayed focused while putting up big numbers in the rushing attack, jumping out to a 42-7 lead before earning a 42-21 win over the Patriots.
The following week was another dominant performance in a 47-14 win over Woodrow Wilson when the offense found its balance.
Seals said the Highlanders stayed crisp during last week’s open date and the team is ready to get back on the field with a 7:30 p.m. road game Friday at South Charleston.
“Again, that team meeting is as important as anything we’ve done this year,” Seals said. “We got everyone on the same page and how practice should be every day and we’ve done a better job of focusing in practice.”
Seals said that getting past the Black Eagles will be no easy task as they are much better than their 0-4 record indicates. Those losses have come to George Washington, Capital, Johnson Central (Ky.) and Spring Valley.
Last week, the Black Eagles forced three early turnovers that kept the matchup with the Timberwolves close before Spring Valley was able to limit mistakes and take over in a 42-14 win.
Seals said the records mean nothing when Huntington High and South Charleston get together.
“Their kids play hard and we’re definitely going to have to play good football to get out of there with a win,” Seals said. “They are one of those programs that, regardless of when we are playing or who’s up or down or whatever, it’s always a tight football game. I don’t expect to see anything different Friday night.”
Behind improved quarterback Shyleik Kinney, South Charleston’s ability to spread the field and put the opposition in one-on-one situations can cause concern, and Seals said his team is going to have to be good in space against weapons such as receiver Romeo Dunham.
For the Highlanders, the best defense could be a good offense, which means establishing the rushing attack behind the offensive line and churning out yardage on the strength of Ty Wilcoxon, who has 746 yards and seven touchdowns on 94 carries this season.
HHS (4-0) AT SOUTH CHARLESTON (0-4)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
WHERE: SCHS Football Field
RADIO: ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM