By Kyle Lovern
RED JACKET – Longtime football coach Yogi Kinder was at one of his favorite places on Tuesday morning – the football field.
Kinder enters his fourth season as head coach of Mingo Central High School. He and some of his assistants were conducting summer drills at Harless Stadium.
Kinder was the coach at Matewan High School for more than 30 years before the consolidation.
“It really helps the young kids,” Kinder said of the summer sessions.
“It gives the kids that come in from Matewan and Gilbert a chance to learn the system. We’ve got a couple from Burch,” Kinder said, while the players were warming up on the Field Turf.
Kinder is disappointed that he isn’t getting any players from Williamson Middle School (WMS). WMS did not have enough kids to field a team the last two seasons. Kinder hopes that that feeder school will be able to get the program started back this fall.
“This does help the kids and it gets the older kids back in the mood to play some football,” Kinder said of the 3-week summer sessions. “We can’t do a lot of things that they are able to do in other states. We don’t have spring practice.”
Other than kids volunteering to hit the weight room, which is the only conditioning Mountain State players get in the spring, unless they run track or play baseball.
Kinder said he couldn’t get any 7-on-7 drills scheduled with other teams, so he is just going to do that with his own kids. “We have enough kids that we can do it right up here on the mountain,” he said.
Mingo Central will have its first full slate of Cardinal Conference games this season. Due to scheduling issues and previous game contracts, they were only able to play a partial schedule the past two seasons.
“That’s going to be tough,” Kinder said of the slate. “If you can’t win the Cardinal Conference, you certainly can’t win the state championship.”
“This conference will get you ready,” the Miner’s mentor said. “This is one of the best Double A leagues in the state. You better be ready to play every week. “
Some of Kinder’s former players are serving as assistant coaches. He has Joey Fields, Josh Sammons, Hady Ford and Terrance Pruitt. Sammons played for UPike the last couple of seasons, after starting his career at Marshall.
“This is one of the best staff’s I’ve had around me,” said Kinder. “These guys were real good football players. These young guys will help our players a lot. They have a lot of enthusiasm. They are smart and have a lot of football knowledge.”
The Miners had about 40 players out for the first week. Kinder said some kids were on vacation, some were at academic events and some were at basketball camp. However, he said, some are just “lazy” and don’t like to come out.
Kinder said he understands that families and kids want to go on vacations, go fishing and ride their 4-wheelers. However, he would like for them to try to schedule around the 3-week practice period.
Mingo Central only loses four seniors from a squad that went 8-2 in the regular season and made it to the Class AA playoffs. That was the best season so far for the new consolidated school.
The Miners will add Scott and Sissonville on the regular season schedule in 2014. They dropped Logan and Webster County to make room for those two conference schools. The two non-conference games will be with Wyoming East and Westside from neighboring Wyoming County.
The Miners have lost junior Deonte Joplin, a running back, who has transferred to Belfry, Ky. Joplin was one of the backs that saw carries last season for Mingo Central. He gained close to 1,000 yards in 2013.
Kinder expects several kids to step up this fall and make an impact on the field. For now, they will work on fundamentals and try to get the younger kids accustomed to the program.
2014 Mingo Central schedule
Aug. 29 - Wyoming East, Away
Sept. 5 - *Tolsia, John Fry Bowl, Home
Sept. 12 - *Sissonville, Away
Sept. 19 - Westside, Home
Sept. 26 - *Wayne, Away
Oct. 3 - Open
Oct. 10 - *Poca, Homecoming, Home
Oct. 17 - *Chapmanville, Home
Oct. 24 - *Scott, Away
Oct. 31 - *Herbert Hoover, Senior Night, Home
Nov. 7 - Mt. View, Away
Denotes conference games *
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)