SHORT GAP - 2019 marks the sixth consecutive year that Frankfort has opened the season with back-to-back games against Hardy County's Moorefield and East Hardy. In that span, the Falcons have a combined 5-5 record against the Yellow Jackets and Cougars.
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - 2019 marks the sixth consecutive year that Frankfort has opened the season with back-to-back games against Hardy County’s Moorefield and East Hardy. In that span, the Falcons have a combined 5-5 record against the Yellow Jackets and Cougars.
Frankfort opened the season with a 35-3 victory at Moorefield a week ago. In that game, the Falcons struggled a bit offensively in the first half, and led only 15-3 heading into halftime. After what Coach Kevin Whiteman describes as some inspired conversations in the locker room at halftime, however, the Falcons came out strong in the second half, dominating the boys from Title Town to earn a 35-3 victory.
That win was good enough to see the Falcons pop into the number 10 spot in the West Virginia MetroNews power rankings. East Hardy, by contrast, opened the season with a 35-13 loss to neighboring Strasburg, Virginia.
While East Hardy will enter this week’s contest in Short Gap as a decided underdog, all-time, the Cougars actually hold a 3-2 advantage in the series. Frankfort won the first contest in 2014 (35-14), and the most recent contest in 2018 45-7. Sandwiched in between those victories, however, were three straight wins by the Cougars in 2015 (42-14), 2016 (47-25), and 2017 (38-13).
In those three-straight years that East Hardy earned victories over Frankfort, the Cougars were no ordinary East Hardy team, with that three-year span representing the most successful seasons in school history. In 2015, the Cougars made it to the Class A state championship game before falling 62-0 to Magnolia; in 2016, East Hardy again made it to the Class A state championship game before falling to St. Mary’s 23-8; in 2017, the Cougars reached the Class semi-finals before again falling to St. Mary’s 27-21.
Overall, East Hardy has an all-time record of 207-220 for a 49 percent winning percentage, in contrast to Frankfort’s overall record of 299-160 for a 65 percent winning percentage. Frankfort’s Coach Kevin Whiteman is 2-1 all-time against East Hardy, including last season’s 45-7 victory in Baker.
East Hardy struggled under first-year coach Devon Orndorff a season ago, going 2-8 in 2018 in his inaugural campaign. The Cougars earned victories over Hardy County rival Moorefield (2-8) 20-7 and South Harrison (1-9) 44-7. By contrast, Frankfort finished with an 8-3 record, qualifying for the class AA playoffs.
In their season opener against Strasburg, the Cougars put themselves into a hole early, the result of special teams plays gone bad, particularly punts. On East Hardy’s first punt, Strasburg’s Kamryn Pangle hauled in Cougars’ punt at the seven-yard line and raced 93 yards for a touchdown with 6:36 to go in the first quarter. On East Hardy’s second punt, the ball sailed over the punters head and was recovered at the Cougars’ five-yard line. Three plays later, Strasburg scored again to make it 14-0 with 4:08 remaining in the opening quarter.
Strasburg would take a 21-7 lead into halftime. In the second half, the Rams dominated East Hardy on the ground, amassing 226 of their 299 total rushing yards to score twice more and earn the 35-13 victory. In the loss, East Hardy did the bulk of their damage through the air, as the Cougars went 22 for 40, and amassed 229 yards passing.
In radio comments, Frankfort’s Coach Whiteman detailed what to expect out of East Hardy, “Well, you’re going to see a lot of passing I can tell you that; they like to throw the ball around. They’ve dropped off some; they were in the state championship two years in a row; they had a really good thing going. They’re going to come up ready to play; they’re just not up to par with where they were when they were going to the state championships.”
According to Coach Whiteman, “They’re going to throw the ball a lot; they run a spread offense; they run a 4-3 defense, but they’re going to come up, they’re going to pack the box too. It’s going to look like a 6-2; it’s going to look like a 6-5 probably.”
The Falcons will be looking to even-up the series with East Hardy at three games apiece on Friday night. As an added incentive, Frankfort, with a win over East Hardy, can earn the 300th win in the football program’s history.This week will represent the last of the Class A opponents, as all the remaining Falcon opponents are at least Class AA with some Class AAA equivalents.