Top-Seeded Cameron Hosts Gilmer Co. Saturday
Ball, Dragons are rolling into postseason at 9-0
CAMERON — After capping off a 9-0 regular season two weeks ago with a “walk off” win over Trinity, Cameron will take the No. 1 seed into the West Virginia Class A state playoffs beginning this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. when 6-4 Gilmer County pays a visit to Dragon Stadium.
Coach Tim Brown’s Dragons rolled through the first nine games, including a repeat 30-0 victory over the Warriors in a game stopped late in the third quarter on October 29.
“Our kids really came out ready to play that game,” Brown said. “The kids feed off of our home crowd and the intensity and I believe that is a big advantage for us. When the kids are focused and we can give teams trouble early in games things usually go very well for us.”
Meanwhile, the Titans, who are making their first playoff appearance since 2016, entered week 11 ranked 12th in the small school poll only to drop their second game in a row and third in its past five in a 24-14 setback to Meadow Bridge, which allowed them to crack the top 16.
Gilmer County lost its season opener before rolling off four straight victories.
The Titans have played four teams with winning records this season, losing to all four, and have not beaten a team with more than five triumphs. Gilmer has lost to three 9-1 record teams in Ritchie County, Doddridge County and East Hardy along with last week’s setback to 6-4 Meadow Bridge. All four will be participating in the post-season.
Cameron will have to be ready to defend the entire field with the Titans able to both pass and run the ball at any given time. Quarterback Ean Hamrick completed 116 of 180 tosses for 1,851 yards and 25 touchdowns with just one interception during the regular season. His main targets are senior Avery Chapman (38-775-13), Garrett Butler (12-453-7) and Elijah Facemire (22-276-3).
Colton Hall spearheads the rushing attack with 755 yards and seven scores on the season, including four 100-plus-yard outings.
“The really like to throw the football and they have a quarterback that does it very well, but also has the ability to run with it,” Brown said. “He has a good arm and can throw the ball deep with a very fast receiver (Butler) who has the ability to get behind people. Their line is also big and very aggressive.
“They use an odd-stack on defense that can also give you problems. Bottom line is that they are a well-coached, good football team with a lot of skill players and quick-strike ability. We are going to have to play very sound, especially on defense, or they will be taking it to the house on us.”
Gilmer County is going to have another tall task ahead of them Saturday with a Cameron team that can hurt you in a variety of different ways, can put up points in bunches on offense and has an extremely hard-hitting defense.
Sophomore quarterback Colson Wichterman has plenty of weapons in the passing game and threw for 77 yards and two touchdowns against Trinity to get the Dragons rolling. Juniors Cole Burkett and Payton Neely combined for six catches for 82 yards and both scores in that victory.
Senior Isaac Ball has turned into one of the premier running backs in the Ohio Valley, having racked up over 1,400 yards on the campaign. Ball finished with 15 carries for 140 yards two weeks ago while returning a punt 70 yards for a touchdown, which turned into the final play of the abbreviated game.
“I can’t say enough about our offensive line,” Brown said. “I have talked to some of our former coaches and players, and everyone agrees that it’s not uncommon to have great skill players or even a very good offensive line, but when you are talking small-school football like Cameron it isn’t normally common to have both.
“We have had eight kids in and out on the offensive line, including a couple sophomores who have stepped in at any given time and helped us be successful. It has truly been a team effort all the way around and it has been exciting to watch. We have just continued to get better and better up front all season long.”
Defensively Cameron limited the Warriors to less than 100 total yards of offense. The Dragons have recorded three consecutive shutouts, allowing just 67 total points on the season with some of those coming late in games. A total of 40 of those points came in wins over West Greene and Madonna, which each tallied 20.
“Our kids are naturally aggressive, and they just keep coming at you,” Brown said. “We coach physicality, and our conditioning is a big part of that. We do everything we can to stay within the rules, but you are going to get hit hard and there is going to be plenty of contact.
“We hit each other hard every day at practice and these kids just have a blast being aggressive. The coaches also do a great job communicating with them. Our defensive line has actually been a great surprise this year and they just do everything they can to help each other out and there is so much trust there. We don’t have any super stars, but together they play hard, and they get the job done.”
The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to take on the winner of No. 8 Wheeling Central and No. 9 Moorefield, also being played this Saturday. A victory by both the Dragons and Maroon Knights could set up a classic small-school showdown of local powers the following week back at Dragon Stadium.
“Right now there is one game on our schedule and we have preached that to the kids,” Brown said. “All our focus is on the one game directly in front of us. These kids are dialed in, and the coaches have done a great, and continue to do, a great job. Communication is also a big part of that and when I hear the kids communicating to each other at practice and how it goes down it really makes me smile.”