RED JACKET – The Mingo Central Miners have all the momentum heading into Friday night’s round one match up against Liberty Harrison at Harless Stadium.
The Miners finished the season with a perfect record of 10-0, they won the Cardinal Conference Championship, and have secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs, should they win out, until the final game.
Yes, cloud nine surrounds the Miners on Miner Mountain. Everyone knows the Miners have some of the best skill players in the state. The lopsided scores take the entire spotlight and the record gives hope that this could be the year for a state title.
Jeremy Dillon’s stats are some of the best in the state. He has 20 rushing TDs and 884-yards on 97 carries. Dillon has completed 143 passes for 2,115-yards with 27 passing TDs. Joe Hunt has rushed for 848-yards on 130 carries with 16 rushing TDs. Freshman Phenom Drew Hatfield has 698-yards receiving on 57 catches and 11 TDs. These are monster numbers in the high school football scene and they put fear in the hearts of opposing defenses.
The most important aspect that makes these stats possible is the Miners offensive line that is way overdue for recognition.
Here’s a fun fact: out of Dillon’s 225 passing attempts, he has only been sacked three times this season.
Assistant coach Joey Fields has praised the Miners offensive line heading into the playoffs. “This is the most balanced line in the state. They can win the line of scrimmage and they are absolutely solid on pass protection. They are the hardest working group on the field and they have made this happen.”
Junior, Dalton Fields, has been a three year starter for the Miners. No matter who is receiving the hand off or taking the snaps Fields has been their protector. Fields is the leader up front and owns the right guard position. Kaleb Hurley is the left guard opposite of Fields. Hurley adds to the Miners 1-2 punch keeping the running game versatile and the passing game moving the chains. Issac Fox was recently moved to the tackle position and has been described by Coach Fields as the’ “Reason we made it over the top and have a real chance to win state.” Mikey Hall owns the other tackle position and has dominated some impressive defensive lines this season. Zach Curry and Adam Starr rotate in and out and keep the line fresh.
Fields said, “These guys have continually gotten better every game, it all starts upfront and this is the hardest working group we have. All of our success starts and ends with them. We have great skill guys but they wouldn’t be praised as much as they are without the line doing their jobs as well as they do,” said Fields. Coach Fields continued by saying, “We have been fortunate to have three great lines during these last three years, Dalton is one of the best lineman I have seen here. I would say it’s luck to have a line this good but with the work these guys put in everyday, they make it happen every game.”
The minute detail that sets this group apart from other teams in the Class-AA scene is that four of the five linemen used on offense are also working the trenches on defense as well.
This group has certainly done their job this season and could put a trophy in the Miners trophy case on Miner Mountain for the first time.
The Miners will be facing a big Liberty team in the opening round. Liberty has a good running game with Dalton Westfall and Broderick Lantz. QB Seth McKinney runs the passing game but Liberty is mostly run oriented. Those who have seen the Mountaineers play agree that the team has large players.
Coach Fields said, “Liberty has a good football team. Biggest team we have gone up against all year. They play really good competition so they’ve been in some big games. They’re coming down here to win, no doubt about that. Our guys have to understand that and be ready to play for four quarters.”
Liberty finished the season 7-3 with losses to East Fairmont, Lincoln County and Bridgeport. The loss to Bridgeport was a shutout with a final score of 34-0. The Mountaineers had big wins over Notre Dame, Phillip Barbour, Robert C. Byrd, and Lewis County. The game against Lewis County ended with a final score of 35-34.
Lantz is the team’s all-around player. He is used big time in the running game, receiving corps, and leads the team on defense with 54 total tackles. Liberty also has some big guys who will be ready to get after Dillon. Jeremiah Reed, Skyler Eastman, and Jaden Rollyson have combined for 10 sacks this season on the Mountaineers defense.
The Miners say they aren’t looking too far ahead into the future. They are staying focused on Liberty and will move on to the next opponent if they win and advance.
Look out for Mingo Central’s stellar offense to be at the top of their game this Friday night. The Defense will need to contain the run and head coach Yogi Kinder always has a few special teams tricks to keep opposing teams on their heels.
The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. and will take place at Buck Harless Stadium on Miner Mountain.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] on on twitter @sidplaster.)