Knights change offense, hope to return to winning

September 29, 2018

ONA — After losses of 28 and 30 points to Spring Valley and Hurricane, respectively, many people expected Cabell Midland to lose by 40 or more at top-rated Capital last week.

Instead, the No. 17 Knights showed the grit of Cabell Midland teams of the recent past and led the Cougars 7-0 in the second half before falling 20-7 at Laidley Field. A key factor in the stronger performance was the Knights’ return to the smash-mouth running attack it had abandoned in favor of a spread offense for the season’s first four games. The Knights (2-3) will continue with the power running game when they play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at No. 21 Riverside (1-3).

“We went back to our old style of playing football and it gave us some success,” Cabell Midland coach Luke Salmons said. “We ran it for seven years and we went back to who we are.”

The Knights ran 47 times for 136 yards and threw for zero against Capital. Senior all-state tailback Ivan Vaughn carried 22 times for 85 yards. While those numbers aren’t dazzling, Salmons said he thinks they will improve as his players re-acquaint themselves with a familiar offense.

“Our execution will get better,” Salmons said. “Most of our guys have been running this offense since middle school or elementary. We’ll get better.”

The running game benefits the Knights even when it doesn’t produce touchdowns. A mediocre passing attack the first month of the season often resulted in short drives that left Cabell Midland’s defense being on the field more than Salmons wanted. Last week. Capital gained 257 yards. The Knights gave up 366 yards to Spring Valley and 310 to Hurricane.

“Our defense at times has been really good,” Salmons said. “In football, everything works together. Controlling the ball and field position are key factors in any game.”

Salmons said elements of the spread remain in the playbook where except for rare occasions they figure to remain.

“I’m the kind of guy that either you’re all in or you’re all out,” Salmons said. “We went all in. When things don’t work, you change them. We’ve gone back to who we are and the kids are excited about it. We’ve had a lot of success in it. We moved the ball better against Capital than we have some other teams.”

Riverside doesn’t appear pose a threat comparable to Capital, Spring Valley or Hurricane, but the Warriors have experienced some success. Riverside is coming off a 43-0 victory over St. Albans, a team Cabell Midland defeated 61-0. The Warriors also played well in a 24-8 loss to No. 2 Huntington High and in a 34-30 setback to No. 8 Ripley. Riverside opened with a 21-6 loss to No. 15 Woodrow Wilson.

“Riverside is good,” Salmons said. “They play hard and they come ready to play. Their quarterback makes plays, they have a good running back and they have a good line. It’s on the road and our kids are excited to go play.”

Riverside is led by quarterback Javante Elzy, who has completed 34 of 74 passes for 389 yards and four touchdowns, with three interceptions. Running back Caden Easterling has carried 56 times for 323 yards and two TDs.

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