Fall 2020 Preview: Frankfort football eyes playoffs again this year
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - After a three-year playoff drought in 2015, 2016 and 2017 that also saw Frankfort with a sub-.500 record, under the returned leadership of head coach Kevin Whiteman, Frankfort returned to its winning ways in back to back 2018 and 2019 seasons and in a big way.
In 2018, Frankfort finished 8-3 and were back to the first round of the playoffs. In 2019, the Falcons did that one better, times two, finishing 9-3 and this time advancing to the second round of the West Virginia class AA playoffs.
Frankfort has fully returned to their winning ways that includes regular appearances in the class AA playoffs. The goal every year, in fact, is to get to the playoffs and keep winning once you’re there. Even with the COVID-craziness of 2020, those same goals for 2020 have not changed.
While COVID-19 restrictions, cancellations and such have certainly affected Frankfort’s ability to conduct football business as usual, there is the realization that others are affected in the same ways. Despite the challenges, coaches and players alike are pushing forward, obeying the rules, and striving to get as much of a season in as possible.
“It’s been very difficult and I realize that everyone is in the same boat. When we were able to come back, we had to go through all those phases, and that was difficult starting out with the masks and social distancing. It was very difficult at first, and then there was a slow progression until you could fully workout in the weight room,” Whiteman explained.
“Then we got suspended as a county there for three weeks and that was a killer because we were just starting to get things rolling. It put us behind in a lot of ways. I hated it but I know it’s necessary, you have to follow the guidelines and we’ve been doing just that,” Whiteman stated. “It’s definitely different, but we want to do whatever we have to do be safe and have games, so we’ll follow the guidelines.”
Gone are area Maryland schools Mountain Ridge and Northern from the original schedule, the result of Maryland postponing it’s season, all related to COVID-19, of course. Those games were replaced with AAA opponents Spring Mills and Jefferson. The Falcons then found a replacement for the lost week one Moorefield game by picking up Oak Glen later in the season.
“I was really excited coming into this season to play Mountain Ridge and Northern because I thought they were both going to have really good teams, and I thought they were going to be dogfights. Now we’ve picked up a few AAA teams that we typically don’t play during the regular season (Spring Mills and Jefferson), we also picked up Oak Glen, who I consider this year to be a AA power house,” Whiteman stated.
“When you go to those AAA schools, they have a lot more kids than we have, a lot more kids to pick from. Typically, they have a lot of athletes and speed. So, we’re going to have our work cut out for us. And Oak Glen, they have a lot of returning starters from a team that advanced to the state semi-finals last year and lost to eventual state champion Bridgeport. The good part is they’re coming here, so hopefully the drive here will have a little effect on them,” Whiteman explained.
While the Falcons do have a few key returning starters from that 9-3 team a year ago, overall, Frankfort’s personnel as a whole is described as inexperienced. The returners will play a huge role, but the numbers show that underclassmen will need to step up and make a big contribution.
“We have very few guys that got playing time last year, so we’re very inexperienced, that’s why I hated missing certain times this summer because we could have been talking about things and looking at things,” Whiteman stated.
According to Whiteman, “We have Jansen Moreland, everyone knows who Jansen Moreland is, he’s going to be our leader, he’s going to move to fullback this year, and he’s a hard runner, fights like a pit bull. He’s a returning linebacker, he’s been our leading tackler the last two years.”
“Brock Robinette is another young man who started for us at tight end and got some time at defensive end. Those guys are captains and I look to them to be leaders. Our other two captains are John Bittinger and Jacob Logsdon, they started on the offensive line last year. They did a good job,” Whiteman stated. “They’re not the biggest guys in the world but they know how to get leverage, their wrestling-type guys, they fight and play hard every play, and you can’t ask for any more than that.”
“We’ve also got Jake Clark and Andy Westfall that got time at split end and defensive back, but other then that, we’re inexperienced. We’re going to have some sophomores starting on both sides of the ball, it’s just the way it is. We’ve got to go with the numbers we have on the team, we’re down to 23 players on varsity which I don’t like. But we’re working with it and working hard and still trying to decide who will be our starters on both sides of the ball,” Whiteman explained.
Despite the challenges and a roster mixed with a few returning starters in combination with a great deal of inexperience, the goals remain the same.
“Every year we work hard and our goal is always to have a winning season and make the playoffs and hopefully to advance when we get there. I wouldn’t want to have a goal any less than that. Your talent from year to year is like a roller coaster, especially at a small AA school like ours where your numbers are up and down. But we’ve proven through the years that we can have good seasons, playoff teams, and advance sometimes when we get there.”