MORGANTOWN — The Morgantown High football team broke out of pre-practice stretches Monday afternoon at Pony Lewis Field and into different drills, but several players were without the Mohigans’ signature white helmets.
“We honestly didn’t have enough helmets,” head coach Sean Biser said. “Hopefully they’ll be in by the end of the week.”
A surge in numbers is the culprit for the equipment mishap, especially compared to recent years. For the opening of fall camp, which began Monday, the Mohigans had 122 players, about 40 between the varsity, JV and freshman teams. A few haven’t even played football before.
Coming off the 2020 season marred with cancellations, postponements and restrictions because of COVID-19, Biser believes there is a renewed interest in getting out and playing sports, but another reason is a renewed interest in MHS football as a whole.
“A lot of kids may be bored and want to get out here and are tired of sitting at their house and not being out and active,” Biser said. “I think football is making a comeback here a little bit. There is a lot of interest right now.”
Biser is entering his second year with the Mohigans after coming from Keyser, but with the oddities that plagued last season, he is excited to begin a “normal” season. An under-the-radar consequence of COVID was forcing the players to be on one larger varsity squad, which finished 3-3 and missed the Class AAA playoffs. Now, with the separated roster, it allows the actual varsity team to get more reps in practice.
Like last season, with the delay in the spring sports calendar, the three-week summer workout period was pushed back to July rather than June, and ended last Friday, pushing right into the start of camp for all fall sports.
For football, it would be seven-straight weeks of practice before the first game of the season, which for most schools is set for Aug. 27. Biser decided against it and used the three weeks in a non-traditional manner.
“I hate it,” Biser said. “We didn’t even use it like the three weeks usually are. We used flex days all summer and did speed and agility training the other two days. We didn’t do the whole three weeks, we didn’t go crazy with 7-on-7s.
“If you start on the first day of the three weeks, go every day, then start camp, you think you’re ahead of the game. Well you might be, but are you physically and mentally ready? We’re out here to learn, so that’s what we wanted to do.”
There could be a lot to learn for MHS, which will need to replace several key starters who played both sides of the ball in Deondre Crudup, now at Glenville State, and Chuck Howley Award winner Caden Biser and Cam Rice, now at WVU as preferred walk-ons.
Biser doesn’t want to give away names yet for who could replace Rice at quarterback in his patented wing-t offense, but there will be a competition headed into the first game against South Charleston at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at Pony Lewis Field.
Crudup and Biser got most of the carries at running back, but Biser said he is confident in a three-back rotation this year, led by junior Davon Eldridge, who had 465 yards and seven touchdowns on 52 carries as a sophomore. Broderick Washington is another who had several carries last year and is looking for an expanded role.
The strength, though Biser is mum on the potential, of the Mohigans will be along the offensive and defensive lines, which is loaded with experience.
MHS will have its first scrimmage at Capital on Aug. 13, and will host Preston for its second and final scrimmage at 7 p.m. Aug. 20.