Clay Battelle, Local Sports, Sports

Clay-Battelle football team looks to build on success of last season as 3-week practices begin

BLACKSVILLE — For head coach Ryan Wilson and the Clay-Battelle football team, it’s fairly simple to come up with a goal for the season. After last year’s first round exit in the Class A state football playoffs, the Cee-Bees can still taste the bitterness of defeat. However, it’s that exact feeling and taste that drives them forward this season.

An 8-2 record in the regular season propelled C-B to the state playoffs, where it eventually fell to Ritchie County 46-14. Despite the loss, Wilson knows making the playoffs was an impactful goal for his team to reach.

“After finishing last season at 8-2 and making the state playoffs, it was a very successful season for us,” Wilson said. “We are working hard and hope to return to the postseason again.”

That postseason run Wilson mentioned was possible due to a well-balanced mix of an efficient offensive attack, backed by a solid defensive side that earned shutouts in four games this season. In fact, the Cee-Bees nearly doubled their opponents in points scored on the year, averaging 38.2 points per contest while only allowing just 19.9 scored against them. In six of those eight wins, C-B scored 40 or more points.

As each school is in the midst of its three-week session of athletics programs practices, Wilson said this time can be used to learn the things you don’t necessarily need to put on the pads for.

“Some of our linemen have attended linemen camp, a lot of our players have participated in several 7-on-7 passing games. We also start getting our players used to our offense and defensive scheme,” he said. “The benefits of being able to spend time during the summer is being able to introduce the players to our offense and defense so when practice starts in August, they are a little familiar with it.”

The Cee-Bees aren’t making it easy on themselves to being the season, as they hit the road for a Week 1 matchup against East Hardy, which gave C-B one of its three losses last season by a score of 45-12. Follow that with another road game to Valley-Wetzel before returning home for three straight home games against Tygarts Valley, Webster County and Cameron. The latter of the three being another one of the regular season losses from last year (44-0).

C-B will be without a key player from last year in Drew Boczek, who lined up at quarterback, receiver and safety last season after transferring to Morgantown High. Despite the loss, Wilson has a slew of returning starters with plenty of experience to help lead the team to success. Three starting receivers will be back with Adam Kolat, Matthew Gadd and Zac Hall running routes for returning quarterback Carson Shriver, who also plays defensive back on the defensive side. Kolat and Hall join Shriver in the secondary, one that helped pitch the four shutouts earned last year as mentioned before.

While C-B knows it won’t be easy to make it back to the postseason and then advance further than last year, coach Wilson and his staff, along with their players, have the confidence they need to achieve the goals set for the upcoming season.

C-B will begin the season at East Hardy on Sept. 2.

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