The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

December 28, 2012

Putting the fight back in the ’Cats

Josh Houchins has turned Summers County football back into a winning group

The last three football seasons concluded with a similar feeling for Summers County High School — extreme disappointment. None of them ended the way the Bobcat players and coaches had hoped.

But as similar as those feelings were, the source was much different. In 2010, the pain came from a winless season. In 2011, the hurt was the result of missing out on what could have been a trip to the playoffs. This year’s Bobcat players and fans experienced the empty feeling from falling short in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs.

The timeline is a perfect illustration of the progression of the Summers County program the last three seasons and the job that head coach Josh Houchins has done in transforming the Bobcats from an automatic “W” on their opponents’ schedules into a team that gives opposing coaches nightmares in the week leading up to a matchup with Summers County.

“He’s done a tremendous job, and he’s been smart enough to surround himself with great coaches,” said Summers County athletic director Wayne Ryan of Houchins, who captured this year’s Register-Herald Coach of the Year Award, edging out some other strong candidates in Oak Hill’s Eddie Souk, Nicholas County’s Gene Morris, Midland Trail’s Joe Dean and Greenbrier West’s Lewis McClung. “He had a group of boys who were with him when he was a middle school coach, and they believed in what he was trying to do..”

The award, voted on by the five members of The Register-Herald sports staff — assistant sports editor Gary Fauber, sports editor Cam Huffman, sports writer Josh Rollins, sports writer Dan Stillwell and sports clerk Rusty Udy, as well as a fan vote on The Register-Herald (Official) Facebook page — recognized Houchins, who also won the online fan vote, for a 7-3 regular season and the program’s first playoff berth since 1995.

The three-year progress wasn’t the only reason Houchins was recognized. The coach — who has also had to battle through some personal adversity after his 6-year-old son Lane was diagnosed with leukemia last year — steered the Bobcats through a possible collapse to recover and make the playoffs.

After a 3-0 start that included wins over PikeView (44-20), James Monroe (26-14) and Grafton (42-14), Summers County dropped three in a row — to Wyoming East (33-20), Greenbrier West (42-6), and Covington, Va. (31-28) to fall back to .500 and erase all of the early-season momentum.

A 48-20 win on the road at Independence may have been the turning point, and the Bobcats followed that with a 48-12 victory at Meadow Bridge.

Heading into an off week with two regular season games remaining, Summers County was 5-3 and in good position for a playoff spot if it could win out against Richwood and Valley.

But Houchins’ club had been in that position before — last year, in fact.

The 2011 Bobcats were also 5-3 heading into an off week, and Richwood and Valley were the final two left on the schedule at that point, as well.

But Summers County couldn’t complete the deal, losing both of those games to finish 5-5.

As it was in many areas, 2012 was different.

This time Summers County responded to the challenge, beating Richwood 42-20 and then finishing the regular season off with a 28-20 win over Valley, leaving no doubt as to its playoff future.

“You don’t usually get a second chance, but those players and coaches did,” said Ryan. “The experience from the year before made them understand what they had to do, and when they got a chance, they made the most of it.”

A No. 11 seed, Summers County made the trip to Mineral County to face No. 6 Frankfort High School expecting to win.

It didn’t happen, as the Falcons cruised to a 38-7 victory, but Houchins is confident it was an experience upon which his team can build.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that success leads to interest,” said Ryan. “When you win, more people come to games and more people want to be on the team. Interest is what helps build a program.”

— E-mail: and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

Text Only
Latest Sports
  • Clark makes voice heard in return to Redskins

    Ryan Clark has been a showman, entertainer, spokesman, pontificator, critic, leader, mentor and fashionista — and that's just from one week of Washington Redskins training camp.

    August 1, 2014

  • Steelers WR Antonio Brown aims for repeat of 2013
    Antonio Brown rolled up to the dorms at Saint Vincent College last week in a Mercedes conversion van. It's fitting in a way. Five years into a blossoming career, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver is playing the role of dad — OK, maybe slightly older brother — to a group long on talent but short on experience.

    August 1, 2014

  • Steelers sign K Suisham through 2018 season
    The Pittsburgh Steelers have given kicker Shaun Suisham a four-year contract extension that runs through the 2018 season.

    August 1, 2014

  • RH 080114saints1.jpg Intensity reaches new level at Saints training camp

    Following their first day off from training camp on Wednesday, the New Orleans Saints reported to their new $30 million practice facility at The Greenbrier Thursday full of energy and with an edge that hadn’t been seen through the first five practices.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Holliday.jpg Backup quarterback battle one to watch at Marshall

    Marshall has a pretty decent quarterback in Rakeem Cato, a Heisman Trophy candidate who is expected to lead the Thundering Herd to its most successful season in more than a decade.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • New Orleans practices bring back memories for Haas

    Bob Haas stood back away from the field Thursday, watching the action at the New Orleans Saints Greenbrier training camp intently but avoiding getting too close.

    August 1, 2014

  • Holgorsen: ‘The guys were pretty fired up’

    West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen said everybody in the country has a good first practice, but after his Mountaineers hit the field for the first time Thursday, he was glad he wasn’t focused on negatives.

    August 1, 2014

  • Wilson out indefinitely after Tuesday's injury

    Current New York Giants and former Virginia Tech running back David Wilson will not practice for the rest of the week and is out for Sunday's Hall of Fame game after suffering what the team called a "burner" in practice on Tuesday

    July 31, 2014

  • Steelers speedy rookie LB Shazier making quick impression

    The 15th overall pick in the draft is drawing raves from his teammates for his quickness and his coaches for his smarts.

    July 31, 2014

  • Less zone-read for RG3 under Redskins coach Gruden

    Robert Griffin III faked the handoff to Alfred Morris and took off down the left sideline, showing the burst of speed that helped him become the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012. 

    July 31, 2014

Saints Training Camp