By Dave Morrison
FAYETTEVILLE – Wyoming East seemingly has several disadvantages heading into its game at Fayetteville Friday night.
For starters, it’s at Fayetteville.
Second it will be the last home opener in the history of Fayetteville High School, scheduled to close at the end of the school year.
“They have a wonderful program and they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder with it being their last home opening game,” senior running back/defensive back Gage Bailey said. “But I think that we are a lot better than we were last year.”
And then there is the Jordan Dempsey factor, and that really concern for Wyoming East.
“He’s definitely one often best running backs in the area, at least in southern West Virginia and maybe one of the best period,” said Wyoming East receiver Jake Bishop. You can’t stop him, but if you can contain him a little that would be a confidence booster.”
Last year Dempsey had 19 carries for 115 yards and scored four touchdowns and 28 points total in a 38-19 Fayetteville season-opening win.
“We couldn’t do much of anything with him at all,” Wyoming East coach Don Jewell said. “The kid is an outstanding player. We know there either going to run him, throw the ball to him or he is going to throw it.”
Dempsey has done it all in his outstanding prep career, with 2,487 career yards rushing and 36 touchdowns, 48 receptions for 776 yards and eight touchdowns and has completed 51 of 92 passes for 520 yards and three touchdowns.
He’s been the area’s most versatile player.
Dempsey admitted the team is well aware of what the last season means to the community.
“We are playing with a chip on our shoulder,” Dempsey said. “Obviously the best case scenario is we win every game but it doesn’t always work out that way. Wyoming East is a double-A team and they have a very good team. We have to be prepared for them.”
Coach Dave Moneypenny said he was not sure his team was ready to open after two scrimmages.
“I watched the films, our first group obviously needs more work,” Moneypenny said after scrimmaging Independence last week. “And our backups aren’t quite ready either. We have lots to improve on.”
Jewell said he expects the Pirates to try and get Dempsey or any of their other backs, like running back Eli Sedlock or quarterback Logan Frantz, to the edge.
“I think if anyone saw our Greenbrier West scrimmage that would be an area they would try to attack,” Jewell said. “Obviously they’re have the capability of doing it. We have to understand that and be ready for it.”
While that is certainly a concern, Jewell echoed Bailey’s sentiments about the new attitude in the Wyoming East program. While only James Snuffer’s extra point returns from last year’s 19-point effort against Fayetteville, Jewell is confident entering the opener.
“My kids have worked hard and I really think they are buying into the system,” Jewell said.
He hopes to establish the run with Caleb Bower, Michael Elkins and. Bailey, guys who did get a little experience last fall. Bailey’s 196 yards rushing and two TD lead the returnees.
Back also is record-setting quarterback Seth Ross, who last year threw for a school-record 1,269 yards.
“He could possibly be the best quarterback on our schedule,” Moneypenny said. “Plus they have and established running game but then are threat to go deep in every play.”
The junior’s top target is Jacob Bishop. The two hooked up on a touchdown in last Saturday’s muddy scrimmage at Midland Trail. He threw another to Bailey in the previous week’s scrimmage.
Last year Bishop, also a junior, was second on the team in receiving with 26 catches for 298 yards and a touchdown.
Jewell said his game plan is simple.
Run the ball effectively and set up the pass through the run.
“It’s a new offense this season,” quarterback Ross said. “I think everybody is buying in to it and it’s going to be effective for us. We might not pass as much but I don’’t care if I pass for zero yards if we can get the win. We have four juniors and a sophomore on the line. I’ve played with these guys my whole life. It’s been my experience if you have a good line the running game is solid and that opens up the pass.”
Jewell realizes this is Fayetteville’s final season-opener, with the school scheduled to close at the end of the school year in another round of Fayette County consolidations.
“They are going to be fired up for this game,” Jewell said. “We have to come out and smack them in the mouth, do everything to take away their momentum. If you can stop the weapons they have and change the momentum that can be a big thing in a game like this. I’ll do everything I can to go on defense first.”
Moneypenny’s concern is size.
“They are much bigger than we are,” he said. “And they are very well coached.”
After this week Wyoming East travels to Westside for the annual Gold Shovel game, Aug. 31. Fayetteville is at Valley next week in a battle of the two Fayette County schools that are scheduled to close at season’s end.