Poca is a very good Class AA high school football team in West Virginia with standout players all over the field on both sides of the ball for the Dots. On Friday, none of that mattered.
Class AAA powerhouse Cabell Midland imposed its will Friday in Putnam County against Poca en route to 62-20 win at the Dots’ O.O. White Stadium.
The Knights (3-0) pounded the ball on the ground early, utilizing a deep roster of capable ball carriers in their triple option attack to jump out to a 42-7 lead at halftime. Midland added to the lead in the third quarter and was ahead 56-20 going into the fourth quarter when both teams pulled their starters.
Four different Cabell Midland players scored rushing touchdowns Friday against the Dots (1-1) as the Knights found the end zone a total of nine times. Jackson Fetty and Baden Gillispie each scored two touchdowns on the ground while Isaiah Vaughn and starting quarterback Jaydyn Johnson also scored rushing touchdowns. The Knights’ ability to run the ball successfully opened up some shots down the field as Johnson threw two touchdown passes — Chandler Schmidt made a highlight-reel catch on a tipped deep ball near the goal line and Jack Dragovich beat a Poca defender deep down the sideline for a long scoring catch.
Johnson finished Friday’s game with 126 rushing yards on 11 carries to lead the Knights’ ground attack. Senior fullback extraordinaire Jakob Caudill carried the ball 16 times for 99 yards while Vaughn got eight carries for 89 yards. Gillispie had six carries against the Dots and finished with 79 rushing yards to go with 64 yards on kickoff returns.
Poca was its own worst enemy at times Friday. The Dots looked very much like a team that had not played a game in nearly a month with costly turnovers and penalties. There were opportunities to get the defense off the field as Midland was building its large lead, but the Knights found success on third and fourth down multiples times Friday. There were bright spots for the Dots, however. Senior running back Ethan Payne — a Marshall commit who won the 2019 Kennedy Award — was able to find some room to run at times and scored two of Poca’s touchdowns. Payne finished Friday’s game with 126 rushing yards and the two touchdowns on 18 carries.
The result of Friday’s game says more about where Cabell Midland is currently at than Poca. The Knights are operating like a well-oiled machine with Johnson running the triple option along with Fetty, Gillispie and Caudill giving opposing defenses headaches. Midland’s somewhat inexperienced offensive line has been up to the task so far, and the defense has shown improvement since allowing 34 points in the season-opener at Parkersburg South. Cabell Midland is playing like a team that wants to make a return trip to the Super Six at Wheeling Island Stadium after finishing as the Class AAA state runner-up last season.
For Poca, Friday’s result should not be reason to press the “panic” button. Still, the Dots will want to clean up some of the self-inflicted mistakes. There were times when the Dots did good things and found success against Cabell Midland, and it is not much of a reach to think the Knights will be the best team Poca plays in 2020. Poca is a veteran bunch and have an opportunity to regroup next week against Putnam County and Cardinal Conference rival Winfield.