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Tigers open playoffs against defending state champion Polar Bears

Chapmanville enters the postseason as the 10th seed in Class AA and will travel to Fairmont to take on seventh seed Fairmont Senior in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs (Holly Eldridge/Holly Eldridge Photography).

Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports

CHAPMANVILLE Last week the Chapmanville Tigers accomplished two of their season goals when they defeated county rival and Class A No. 12 Man 28-0 to win the Logan County championship and clinch a Class AA playoff berth.

The victory gave Chapmanville is first outright county championship since 2017 and guaranteed the Tigers a postseason berth for the first time in seven years.

“Those were obviously two goals of ours going into the season and I think every county team has those two goals,” Chapmanville coach James Barker said. “I think when you win a county championship it goes hand in hand with making the playoffs.”

“Obviously, those are two goals, and it has been a good season for our kids, and we had 58 dressed at Man, which is a remarkable number for our type of program,” Barker said.

Chapmanville, who finished the season on a four-game winning streak, enters the postseason as the No. 10 seed and will take on the two-time defending state champion and seventh seed Fairmont Senior Friday night at East-West Stadium.

Friday’s meeting between the Tigers and Polar Bears, who met in the Class AA state basketball championship from 2017-2019 with the Polar Bears winning in 2017 and the Tigers winning in 2018 and 2019, will be the first meeting in school history on the gridiron.

“Defending double A state champions and they return a lot from that roster from last year especially in their skill spots,” Barker said. “I told someone in the news that I don’t know if we are smart enough to even realize it or that our kids even know that they were double A state champs last year which may be a good thing.”

“They have a really good attitude this week and I know there are a lot of people think we got a bad draw which is fine by us,” Barker said. “But we are going to get out, play as hard as we can, play good football, play sound football and we hope to come out of there with a victory.”

It doesn’t come to anyone’s surprise that Fairmont Senior is back in the postseason. The Polar Bears, who will be making their 28th appearance in school history, has qualified for the postseason in each of the previous 10 seasons, have advanced to the semifinals in seven consecutive seasons and have won three of the last four Class AA championships.

The two-time defending state champs are attempting to become the third school to win three consecutive Class AA state championships joining Poca (2001-03) and Bridgeport (2013-15).

Quarterback Brody Whitehair leads an offense that is averaging 31.1 points per game. Whitehair threw for 152 yards and one touchdown in last week’s win over East Fairmont. For the season, Whitehair has passed for 16 touchdowns and rushed for six additional scores.

“The quarterback can run, and I think they are athletically as good as anybody we have seen. We have seen a lot of good athletes this year,” Barker said. "Saw them last week (at Man), saw athletes at Mingo (Central), saw them at Logan. We have seen good athletes so it’s not like we are unprepared.”

Dylan Ours and Germaine Lewis are the lead backs for the Polar Bears. Ours rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns and added 66 receiving yards and one touchdown out of the backfield in last week’s win.

For the year, Ours has eight touchdowns and Lewis has added five more rushing touchdowns for the Polar Bears.

“He is just an athlete. He lines up everywhere and he is a lot like a clone of Brody Dalton,” Barker said. “They are very similar and they just happen to have a guy at quarterback that can either hand it off to Ours or throw it to Ours.”

Chapmanville has won its last four games and hopes to carry that momentum into the postseason, but who knows how the season would have played out if not for a fourth quarter comeback at Wayne.

Down 21-20 following a late Wayne touchdown, Austin Adkins returned the ensuing kickoff 30 yards as Chapmanville took over on the 50-yard line with 0:50 remaining.

That kick return along with a trio of Brody Dalton completions, two to Adam Mullins and one to Jacob Topping, followed by a couple of Kohl Farmer runs set the Tigers up at the Wayne 2 setting the stage for Dalton’s game winning 2-yard touchdown run with 0:09 remaining.

“I think you saw a different team from that point on and I wish I could tell you what was said,” Barker said. " The kids’ kind of made that determination and we had a really good kickoff return on that drive and Brody and offensive line took us down the field.”

What followed were wins over county rival and AA No. 16 Logan, a first ever road win at Mingo Central, and last week’s shutout of county rival Man that has seen the Tigers outscore the opposition 119-27, with 20 of those 27 points were allowed in the third quarter win at Mingo Central.

“Since then, we have played really, really good football for almost 12 quarters,” Barker said. “We had a little bit of a letup there in the third quarter at Mingo Central but I we were talking the other day that if you take away that third quarter at Mingo, we are outscoring opponents with a +100 some differential right now.”

Injuries shouldn’t be a major concern for the Tigers as Barker reports that his Tigers are as healthy as they have been since the bye week.

Adam Mullins, who missed the Mingo Central game with an ankle injury, returned to catch two touchdowns in the Tigers win at Man last week, while Trey Butcher, who missed last week’s game with concussion, returns for this week’s playoff opener.

“We tried to give him (Mullins) a go Thursday before the Mingo game and he said he couldn’t do it on his ankle, so we set him out,” Barker said. “Didn’t really hurt us in that game and I think you see the type of player that he is when you watch film against Man and how much we need him sometimes.”

“Trey Butcher had a concussion and we set him out at Man,” Barker said. " Probably could have gone but he was in the final day of (concussion) protocol, and we made the better to be safe than sorry decision not to play him, so he is good to go this week.”

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