H.S. Football Preview: Spring Mills at James Wood

Spring Mills, W.Va. at James Wood
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: James Wood’s Jerry L. Kelican Stadium.
Records: Spring Mills Cardinals (4-4); James Wood Colonels (2-6).
Last week: Spring Mills beat Mountain Ridge, Md., 26-12; Wood lost to Millbrook 56-0.
Last year: Spring Mills won 35-21.
Players to watch: Spring Mills — QB Colton Henson, RB Demetreus Jalepes, LB Adam O’Donnell. James Wood — OL/DL Isaac Schrantz; TE/LB Noah Sullivan; RB/LB Ryan Rupp; RB William Crowder, QB Mike Zebarth.
Preview: James Wood lost more than a game to a local rival last Friday.
Already beat up, the Colonels suffered several more injuries, including quarterback Dade Carroll, in the 56-0 loss to Millbrook.
Wood was down to about 20 players in practice this week.
“We went in there with two starters out and now we have a lot of guys out,” said James Wood coach Mark McHale. “... Like I’ve said before, if we had one guy get hurt it really sets us back. Not only did we get more than one guy hurt, we’ve got our starting quarterback gone. That’s a big blow there. And both of our outside linebackers are gone. That really hurts the defense and our starting safety is gone.”
Junior Mike Zebarth will get his first varsity start at quarterback. Zebarth, who started at cornerback against Millbrook, mopped up in the second half against the Pioneers. His other quarterback experience came with the junior varsity squad.
“He’s got to be able to manage the game well,” McHale said. “... He’s got to take Dade’s place and do a good job of ball handling and running the offense. The guys that fill in for injured players have to step up and produce.”
That’s true on defense as well.
Spring Mills features a talented backfield, led by running back Demetreus Jalepes. The senior has been selected to play in the All-American Bowl on Jan. 21 in Oakland, Calif.
Last week, Jalepes returned a kickoff 79 yards for a score and had a 70-yard TD run in a 26-12 win over Mountain Ridge. He finished with 148 yards on 15 carries and rushed for two scores. The previous week, Jalepes had touchdown runs of 60 and 53 yards and caught a TD pass in a 56-34 triumph over Washington.
Quarterback Colton Henson has been impressive. He rushed for three scores and threw a 49-yard TD pass against Washington.
It’s been feast or famine for Spring Mills on offense. The Cardinals are averaging 40 points per game in their wins and 11 points in their losses.
“Their base formation is 2-by-2 so they spread you out,” McHale said. “They’ll run the zone play and their quarterback will keep it and run it up the middle. He does a good job with that and they throw the ball well.”
McHale said he’s equally impressed with the Spring Mills defense. “They’re real sound on defense,” he said. “They have some good-looking players. They run a 4-3 scheme and their front four looked pretty good to me.”
With the injuries, McHale knows his squad has its work cut out for it against the Cardinals. “If they can fumble the ball about five times, we might be in good shape,” he said with a chuckle. “Our boys will play hard.”
— Compiled by Walt Moody