With King, Myers and Oliver, Cougars could overcome inexperience
Seniors occupied most of the limelight when Jefferson reached the state playoffs at the end of the 2015 football season.
But there are enough holdovers — especially at the so-called skill positions — to give the 2016 version of Jefferson football another bona fide chance to go back to the 16-team postseason.
There will be only 29 schools chasing those 16 playoff berths now that the WVSSAC has pared the big-school division considerably.
James King and Isaac Myers are the most recognizable names returning to the Cougar offense.
King’s rollout and on-the-move passes were a signature part of last year’s offense.
The Cougars relied more heavily on their ground game toward the end of the 2015 season, but lost to graduation most of their movers and shakers that helped them become a more balanced offense.
The most experienced of this year’s linemen is Kato Oliver, probably a two-way starter when the season opener comes at Millbrook (Virginia) on Aug. 26.
Jeffrey Gaskins and Mike Dodson are two more players whose shoulders have to be broad because of the responsibilities they will be given.
Gone from the 2015 playoff team are Delonte Berry and Christian Johnson. Berry was recruited by the U.S. Naval Academy and Johnson set new state standards for pass receiving yardage and touchdowns in a single game.
Jalon Smith, Marcus Burns and Nick Chorney were also seniors last year.
Jefferson’s most effective linemen a year ago were Phillip Keller, Kaleeb Jones and Brandon Herbert . . . and they were all seniors.
The same 10 teams that comprised Jefferson’s 2015 schedule all return for the coming season.
Only one of the first six games is at home, and that comes on Sept. 9 against Musselman.
Jefferson has an open date on Sept. 2.
Beginning with a game at rebuilding Hedgesville on Sept. 16, the Cougars then have consecutive road games at Sherando, Handley and Spring Mills.
The season is completed with four straight home games against Fairmont Senior (Oct. 14), Martinsburg (Oct. 21), South Hagerstown (Oct. 28) and Washington (Nov. 4).