FHS Coach Kevin Whiteman: 2021 schedule competitive but sensible

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Kevin Whiteman
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By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

SHORT GAP - Kevin Whiteman has spent a total of 11 seasons as the head coach of his alma mater, Frankfort High School. In those 11 seasons, the Falcons have qualified for the state playoffs eight times. With a track record of success like that, Whiteman understands the pros of competitive but also sensible scheduling.

When one assesses the Falcons’ 2021 10-game slate, it’s clear, on school size alone, that the schedule will be a competitive one. There’s also the issue that six of the 10 schools on the list were West Virginia playoff teams a season ago.  While competitive, it’s also sensible, striking the perfect balance.

 “When making the football schedule we will always do what’s best for the kids at Frankfort High School. We have about 480 students in our school. We are the second smallest school in class AA,” Whiteman stated.

According to Whiteman, “I think we have a very good schedule for the size school that we are. Six of the teams we played last year were in the playoffs. Every team except two of them on our schedule have bigger enrollments and those numbers make a big difference.”

On the Falcons’ 2021 schedule, Hampshire, Washington, Berkeley Springs, Mountain Ridge, Spring Mills, Elkins, North Marion and Keyser are all bigger schools than Frankfort.  Only Moorefield and Northern have smaller enrollments, and it isn’t by much.

“If the school has a couple hundred more kids there’s going to be a handful of good football players there. Three of the teams we play have around 900 more kids than we do. We were in a lot of competitive games last year,” Whiteman explained.

The Falcons compiled an impressive 7-1 record in 2020.  Two of those games, Spring Mills and Washington, were one-point contests, with Frankfort beating Spring Mills and losing to Washington.  

The Spring Mills game was particularly exciting as the Cardinals rolled into Short Gap at the time rated number one in the playoff ratings.  The game would come down to Frankfort stopping Spring Mills on a two-point conversion as time expired to claim the 21-20 victory.

In post-game comments at the time, Whiteman had the following to say, “I’m so proud, I’m so proud of the team. You know our practices were a little sloppy this week, but tonight in the game, I was so proud of their effort. When we came in, we were major underdogs, they had a lot of athleticism, but the kids kept battling. I thought we should have won it in regulation, but it took us until overtime,”

Also according to Whiteman at the time, “I’m just proud of their resiliency, and fighting through to get the win. This is one of my proudest moments as the coach at Frankfort, that was one of the biggest wins, a big overtime win, and I can’t say enough about the kids’ effort, I just can’t.”

Games against AAA opponents, particularly those with talented rosters the likes of Spring Mills, certainly offer the Falcons a high risk, high reward opportunity.  It’s the same thing with putting a host of playoff teams on the schedule.  Still, the Falcons welcome the challenge.

According to Whiteman, “There are certain people who will always take a jab at your schedule but those people truly don’t understand what it’s about. Anyone who understands the dynamics of high school football could never make a negative comment about our schedule. And again, when we schedule we think about what’s best for our student athletes not what public opinion is”

If there’s a balance in scheduling, and there is, Frankfort has found it.  The proof is in the pudding.  The numbers in terms of enrollment may have dropped but the quality of the football product in Short Gap has not.  Competitive yet sensible scheduling has played a part in the success, 2021 will be no different.