CAMERON - It is still very early in the 2013 high school football season
However, for Coach Jim Rogers and his Cameron squad, Friday night's contest with visiting Clarksburg Notre Dame is the kind of game that could very well help define its season.
The Dragons lost their opener to Bishop Donahue, but bounced back with a 26-9 victory against Valley last week in Pine Grove. Now they face the Fighting Irish, which rallied from a 16-0 deficit against Grafton and scored 27 fourth-quarter points to win their season lid-lifter last Friday.
Shane Williams (31) and the Cameron Dragons look to make it two victories in a row.
"Notre Dame is a pretty good football team that beat Class AA Grafton last week, and they impressed us on film also," Rogers said. "This really is a big, early season game for us; it's one of those pivotal games that can really put a team in a good frame of mind with a win."
After being held in check against the Bishops, Cameron piled up 317 yards of offense against the Lumberjacks, led by the passing of junior quarterback Logan Routt and the running of Hunter Yoders.
Routt completed just five passes in the game, but three of those went for touchdowns and he finished with 134 passing yards. His favorite target was junior Dalton Wood, who had two grabs for 77 yards including scoring catches covering 32 and 45 yards, respectively.
Yoders carried the ball 19 times, finishing just under the century mark with 98 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run that all but put the finishing touches on things with 4:57 to play.
While the Dragons defense did an outstanding job against Valley's passing attack, holding it to 13 yards, the Jacks did grind out 215 rushing yards. Something that has to be a concern with Notre Dame coming to town.
"Cameron is a team that will come out and hit you on every play no matter what their level of talent, and they are pretty good right now," Notre Dame coach Sam Alvaro said. "We just need to carry over from the second half last week.
"We had some bad reads in the first half, but came out ready to play after the half. But the stats also don't show everything. We had two long touchdowns called back by penalty and the defense played extremely well. That game with Grafton was not as close as it looked."
The Irish boast one of the best small-school running backs in the Mountain State in junior Santino Cava, who has rushed for 2,412 yards in his two-plus seasons as the starting tailback. Not only that, but it was Cava who scored all four Notre Dame touchdowns in the fourth quarter last week while finishing with 246 yards.
While senior Wakim Simon and junior Spencer Harlow are the main receivers, the Irish will use a pair of quarterbacks in senior T.J. McKenzey and sophomore Jordan Miller.
"He (Cava) is one of the best running backs in the state and we had trouble containing him last year," Rogers said. "The kid is not very big, but he is a jitter bug and you have to contain him because he can cut on a dime. They also have a huge line that is very aggressive, so we are going to have to block better than we did last week.
"They are an athletic group, but from what I watched on film, I don't believe they throw the ball as well as they have in the past and they concentrate a little more on the underneath stuff and not going deep as much. We are really looking forward to playing them in our first home game and we already have some ideas of what we want and need to do to be successful."
As for Alvaro, he cannot say enough about his standout running back.
"He is 5-6, 194 pounds and he is just so very fast and agile," Alvaro said. "He runs so hard and makes people miss, he is one of the two best backs I have had in the program since I got here. But maybe one of his biggest assets is that he is also such a great leader."
A huge problem for the Dragons last week was penalties, in which the Marshall County club had 12 in all. Rogers said after the victory against Valley that the penalties are all correctable and the biggest thing they need to work on is having Routt raise his voice.
"Logan has got to speak up so everyone can hear him," the veteran coach said. "His voice just doesn't project well across the line and procedure penalties are hurting us. That is something we need to take care of.''