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Football 2012: Dragons Prepared to Celebrate 100 Years

August 23, 2012
By RICK THORP , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

CAMERON - This fall marks the 100th season of football at Cameron High School. It is also the ''Year of the Dragon'' on the Chinese calendar.

Put those two together and veteran Dragons coach Jim Rogers believes he has the ingredients for a successful season, his 21st on the sidelines in Marshall County.

No, Rogers isn't relying on superstitions or coincidences on a calendar to dictate how he feels about his squad. He thinks he has some talent, too.

''We are excited about what we have,'' Rogers said, noting 39 players are on the roster. ''Last year we were 5-5. We think we can do better than that this year if we get the kids to respond.''

The Dragons haven't reached the postseason since 2003 and Rogers is hopeful the drought ends this fall. Cameron finished just short of a playoff berth last season. The Dragons lost to eventual 9-1 squad Clay-Battelle, 6-0, at home and a victory would have likely provided enough points to get in.

''We've gone through some rough times the past few years,'' Rogers said. ''We're going to springboard off 5-5 and see what happens.''

Gone is quarterback Ryan Hughes and in steps sophomore Logan Routt (6-foot-8, 180 pounds).

''He's a tough kid, but he's still learning,'' Rogers said. ''He knows when he makes a mistake and I like that kind of stuff out of kids.''

Rogers acknowledges Routt is ''a work in progress,'' but with his size, the veteran coach sees great things ahead.

Senior Mark Walker (6-3, 203) will back up Routt. Also in the mix are sophomore Chris Gouldsberry (6-0, 160) and freshman Roger McDiffitt (5-8, 135), who Rogers called a 'football sponge.'

Walker will spend most of his time at receiver, where he paced the Dragons last year. Junior Shane Williams (6-0, 170) is in his third year at the position, while senior Jordan Hart (5-10, 155) is in his second. Senior Ivan Hall (5-10, 145) also has promise.

Others in the mix at receiver include Gouldsberry, sophomores Kyle Miller (5-8, 145), Cody Franklin (5-0, 92), Dustin Cook (5-10, 135) and Alex Baldwin (5-8, 130), and freshman Cody Bayles (5-5, 108) and Ricky Huff (5-8, 150).

''We have a lot of options (at receiver),'' Rogers said.

The Dragons have ''four dependable backs'' in the fold, all of whom got reps last season.

Junior Hunter Yoders (5-10, 165) leads the unit after pacing the Dragons in rushing last fall. Also in the mix are seniors Levi Knight (5-7, 160) and Devin Starcher (5-9, 145), along with sophomore Clayton Ward (6-1, 160).

Behind them are a pair of freshmen - Wyatt Mackey (5-7, 145) and Preston Miller (5-6, 150).

''Each one of those kids has a different style of running,'' Rogers said.

Anchoring the offensive line will be center Dillon Blake (5-10, 160), a senior. He started five games at guard last season before breaking his finger.

Senior Justin Richards (5-11, 165) will back up Blake.

Another player whose season was cut short due to injury last year - senior Austin Martin (5-8, 262) - will be the right guard. Senior Seth Earnhart (5-9, 188) is also in the mix, along with junior Waylon Miller (5-9, 188), sophomores Billy Estel (5-10, 180) and Derek Martin (5-7, 155), and freshman Jared Neehouse (5-7, 170).

The left guard spot features a battle between junior Austin Pegg (6-1, 240) and sophomore John Horner (5-10, 265).

Senior Hunter Chambers (6-3, 205) returns at right tackle. Backing him up is sophomore Mason Shook (5-10, 272).

Senior Austin Pyles (6-1, 195) returns at left tackle with freshman Kody White (5-10, 276) behind him.

Freshman Devan Pettit (5-9, 205) is also in the mix along the line.

Chambers and Routt will be the defensive ends backed up Richards and Blake. Other candidates include Pettit, Estel and freshman Levi Allman (6-0, 175).

Horner and Martin return at defensive tackle, with Pegg and Shook also seeing time. White, Neehouse, Earnhart, sophomore Quinton Burge (5-5, 170) and Waylon Miller also eyeing time.

Yoders leads the group known as ''The Dogs'', aka the inside linebackers, for the third year. Pyle, who played along the line last year, is also in the mix along with Waylon Miller and Derek Martin. Preston Miller and Huff are other options.

Williams, Knight and Hart will rotate at outside linebacker, with Baldwin, Cook and Starcher also figuring into to Rogers' plans.

Starcher is also a possibility at corner, along with Hall, McDiffitt, Bales and Franklin.

Ward finished last season as one of the safeties. He returns with Williams, Mackey and freshman J.J. Cain (5-5, 120) also in the mix.

Rogers said attitude and confidence will key the season for his team.

''We are working the kids hard because we know we have the talent,'' he said.

Rogers is assisted by Scott Holt (defensive coordinator), Eric James (offensive coordinator), Roger Cain and Gibbs Davidson. Aaron Poling left the staff to assume the duties as the school's athletics director.

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