The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 18, 2013

Lofty goals for Cavaliers

Greenbrier West wants to take next step, play for state championship

Greenbrier West certainly has its share of loose ends to tie before the start of the 2013 season. Gone are players such as running back/linebacker Tyler Parker (1,203 yards/84 tackles last season), wide receiver Josh Martin (698 yards, eight touchdowns) and offensive lineman Zack Johnson (first-team all-state).

All three are on college rosters — Parker at Concord and Johnson at West Virginia, and Martin is playing basketball at Randolph College in Virginia.

But, as has become the norm in Charmco, the Cavaliers simply reload.

West, a quarterfinalist in the Class A state playoffs last season, expects to continue its run of success that seems to have been going on for decades. A trip to the playoffs seems a given, but the Cavs want to do more than just get there.

The goals of this proud program have stepped up a notch.

“We want to secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. That’s the first thing we want to do,” said Lewis McClung, who is about to start his 12th season as the Cavaliers’ head coach. “Secondly, we want to get to Wheeling Island.”

McClung was referring, of course, to the site of the Super Six state football championships. All teams aspire to be the last one standing on the first weekend of December, but the Cavaliers feel they have a legitimate shot of doing just that.

The confidence has always been there, but a loss to Wahama in last year’s playoffs left Greenbrier West with a feeling of “what if?” Two uncharacteristic fumbles by the Cavaliers and a key fake punt that led to Wahama’s final touchdown proved fatal in West’s 21-12 loss.

Wahama went on to win the state championship.

“If the ball would have bounced our way a couple of times, we could have beaten Wahama,” McClung said. “But we can’t dwell on the past. We have to get back to work and get ready for this season.”

It all starts with Malik Boatwright, the diminutive senior who could prove to be one of the hardest players to tackle in all of West Virginia. The 5-foot-8 senior, who was a first-team all-stater last season, is a three-year starter for West.

The quarterback/tailback rushed for a team-high 1,650 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior, while completing 21 of 43 passes for 416 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

“He should be more comfortable (at quarterback),” McClung said. “And we want to get him at least two or three series each game at tailback, because he is a threat there as well.”

Joining Boatwright in the backfield will be senior tailback Corey Cox and fullback Chase McClung, and juniors Jordan Tincher and Jordan Grimmett will share the duties at halfback.

Mikey Goddard, who has served as Boatwright’s backup behind center, will now be Boatwright’s prime target in the passing game.

“He has pretty good hands out there,” McClung said. “He’s not 6-7 like Josh, but he’s not short either. He has decent size and good hands.”

Goddard will play quarterback when Boatwright is at tailback.

Several of Boatwright’s teammates were also his teammates on the wrestling team that won the Class AA/A state championship in February. McClung is counting on that experience to carry over to the football field.

“They know what it takes to win a state championship,” he said. “Hopefully that will rub off, and I think it will. They’ve got that confidence and they know what it takes.”

— E-mail: gfauber@

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