ONA — Those who whisper that Cabell Midland’s football team might be down this season might not have looked closely enough at the Knights.
Coach Luke Salmons’ team of 86 players features 23 seniors, a Kennedy Award state player of the year candidate in senior running back Ivan Vaughn and a gaggle of experienced players. The Knights might not be as big up front as in recent seasons, but they’re plenty big enough
“We’ll be good,” Salmons said. “The question is, how good? Our kids have worked hard all year. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.”
Cabell Midland went 6-6 last season and upset Musselman, 28-18, in the playoffs before falling at state runner-up Spring Valley, 15-0, in the Class AAA quarterfinals. The Knights averaged 35.9 points per game, but gave up an uncharacteristic 31 points per contest against the state’s toughest schedule during an injury plagued year.
“Every year is different,” Salmons said. “Last year we had a lot of injuries, but it was fun because we were
able to battle through it. At one point, we had nine kids on crutches. I’d never been through that, but we were still able to win.”
One who wasn’t hurt was Vaughn, who ran for 1,850 yards in 2017 one year after rushing for 1,898 as a sophomore. The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder is a combination of speed and power who runs behind an offensive line anchored by 6-3, 290-pound senior center Logan Osburn. He and senior Levi Kessler (6-foot, 235) are three-year starters. They’re joined on the offensive line by a pair of players who were injured last year in seniors Brayden Simmons (6-3, 285) and Casey Smith (6-foot, 230). Salmons said both likely would have started as juniors. Another senior, Maguire Beever (6-foot, 240) also expects to see playing time.
Junior tight end Zach McCoy (6-3, 220) has started every game he has played and provides strong blocking as well as a big target for quarterbacks Jayce Gould, a 6-1, 190-pound senior, and Drew Elkins, a 6-foot, 180-pound sophomore. Jackson Oxley (6-2, 225) is a junior tight end and a strong blocker.
Sophomore Jakob Caudill (5-10, 210) continues the tradition of the Knights fielding a rugged fullback. He and Vaughn are joined at running back by junior Hayden Hass (5-8, 160) and sophomore Isaiah Vaughn (5-8, 165), Ivan’s brother. Drew McCallister (6-foot, 195) is a senior split end.
“We have some guys who have played a lot of football,” Salmons said of the offense.
That’s true, too, on defense, where the line received a boost from the transfer of senior Nevin Ferguson (6-2, 230) from Lincoln County. Zach Dillon, a 6-foot, 200-pound junior, brings quickness from the end and is joined by 5-11, 235-pound senior Layne Powell.
Salmons said he is excited about his linebackers, maybe the team’s deepest position. Garrett Edwards, a 5-9, 190-pound senior middle linebacker, missed most of last season because of injuries, but starred when he played, making 18 tackles vs. Spring Valley and 17 vs. Musselman. Caudill also plays linebacker, along with senior Hayden Sheppard (6-1, 195), junior Cooper Hardman (5-10, 205) and others.
Despite giving up considerable passing yards last season, the secondary features three of the better athletes in the area in senior safety Griffin Adkins (5-10, 175), junior cornerback J.J. Roberts (6-foot, 175) and 6-foot, 180-pound senior cornerback Carlito Carter, a transfer from South Charleston. Adkins was one of the state’s premier players last year when he made 113 tackles, 82 solo, intercepted four passes and returned one for a touchdown, forced four fumbles and recovered one.
Cameron Grobe returns as the kicker after missing some time last season injured.
Classification: Class AAA
Stadium: Knights Field
2017 record: 6-6