CHARMCO – Summer has ended, fall is upon us, and the Cavaliers are rolling into the meat of their schedule with a 4-0 record. Sporting a #9 rating in the latest WVSSAC standings, things are looking good in Charmco. Greenbrier West is off to the 22nd 4-0 start in the history of the program. Since the advent of the 16-team playoffs in 1991, the Cavaliers have begun the season at least 4-0 eleven times. They qualified for the playoffs all eleven seasons. There is, however, lots of work left to be done.
The Cavaliers start the second half of their season with three consecutive home games. Up first are the Class AA Shady Spring Tigers. Coach Vince Culicerto’s crew heads into Charmco with a 3-2 record and sits just outside the playoff field at #17. The Tigers slipped by Nicholas County 28-27 in week two, came from behind to defeat Summers County 31-28 in week three, and ran over and around Pikeview 40-12 last Friday night. Shady’s two losses came at the hands of two Class AA powerhouses. Roane County clipped the Tigers 35-20 in the season opener and the Raiders haven’t looked back. At 5-0, Roane County slots in at #2 in the SSAC ratings. Independence, the defending Class AA State Champions, lambasted the Tigers 63-12 in week four. Three Patriot running backs ran for over 100 yards. If that weren’t enough, Indy quarterback Trey Bowers passed for over 100 yards and had a 40-yard pick-six to boot. The Tigers have had a rollercoaster of a start to say the least.
The steady factor for Shady Spring has been the play of senior quarterback Brady Green. Green has completed 49-97 passes for 782 yards, 7 touchdowns, and only 2 interceptions. Green can be effective as a runner as well, carrying the ball for over 100 yards in the comeback win over Nicholas County and 62 yards in the victory over Pikeview. Shady’s leading ground gainer is 6’, 205 lb. Senior Gavin Davis. Davis has carried 73 times for 519 yards and 8 scores. Davis had a career night in the win over Pikeview, toting the ball 22 for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns. Green’s main target when he throws is junior Jalon Bailey. Bailey has 23 grabs for 313 yards and 4 touchdowns. Bailey pulled down 8 catches for 114 yards and two scores in Shady’s win over Nicholas County.
Greenbrier West and Shady Spring resumed their series last year after an eleven-year layoff. The Cavaliers lead the all-time series 17-6 with an 8-3 home record against the Tigers. With reclassification on the horizon, Shady Spring will most likely move up to triple-A in the four-class system. What will that mean for the future of the series? With Greenbrier West presumably remaining in Class A, this is probably the last meeting between the schools for at least a few years. Shady would see little value in scheduling Class A schools in the WVSSAC rating system. This will be Kelly Vaughan’s first meeting with Culicerto’s squad as the team’s head coach, but Vaughan is 9-5 vs the Tigers as both a player and an assistant coach. Culicerto is 3-5 against Greenbrier West in his career.
The Cavaliers won last year’s matchup 41-12 in a monsoon at H.B. Thomas Field. The Tigers broke Greenbrier West’s 5-game shutout streak with a seven-yard, Adam Richmond, first quarter score. Ty Nickell then broke Shady Spring’s hearts with a five-touchdown, 203-yard performance. Green did throw for 54 yards in a losing effort, including a 14-yard touchdown pass with :31 remaining in the game. The hidden gem for the Cavaliers in last season’s win may have been the punting of Isaac Agee. Agee booted three punts for 104 yards in the win, keeping the Cavaliers in good field position. In 2023, Agee has only two punts in four games, both coming in the week one win over Pendleton County.
The Cavalier offense has been very effective in the first four games, averaging 47.6 points per contest. The 59 points West put up in the first half against Buffalo are a school record. Cole Vandall has played exceptionally well at quarterback, going 25-42 for 398 yards and eight touchdowns. Tucker Lilly leads West with 10 catches for 128 yards and four scores. Colton Dunbar is emerging as a big playmaker with 5 receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Three other receivers have at least one touchdown catch each with eight receivers total having at least one catch. Lilly has one scoring toss to his credit as well.
Greenbrier West’s offense has traditionally been built on a downhill running game. Eighteen different ballcarriers have toted the football in the first four games. Senior Jake Pate leads the way with 294 yards on 29 carries and six touchdowns. Agee has tallied 181 yards on 21 carries including two scores. Ethan Holliday is the sleeper of the group with 11 carries for 100 yards. Moses Gray with three touchdowns and Brandon Poticher with a score have been welcomed additions to the Cavalier stable.
Along with its signature running game, the West calling card has always included a physical defense. This year’s unit is allowing a paltry 5.3 points per game. The Cavaliers have only allowed 119 yards rushing and have created 10 turnovers in four games. Poticher and Holliday lead the Cavaliers with 27 and 26 tackles, respectively. Holliday leads West with seven tackles for loss. C.W. Sturgill and Daron Vaughan have been rock-solid tacklers, with Sturgill accounting for two turnovers and a safety. Trent Parker has a safety under his belt, and Jacob Whitt has a sack, forced fumble, and tackle for loss to his credit. Senior Jacob Nutter has 13 tackles to go along with a fumble recovery and 3 tackles for loss.
Greenbrier West will be celebrating its 56th Homecoming this Friday night. Fans are reminded that kickoff is at 7 P.M. for all home games this season. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students. Radio coverage can be found on Rock 95 at 6:30.
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