CHAPMANVILLE — The Cardinal Conference has a rich athletic history and tradition.
On the gridiron, conference teams always seem to make their mark in the Class AA playoffs.
Wayne High School, with its undefeated seasons, state championships and deep playoff runs, has had its steeped football tradition well documented.
The Pioneers won back-to-back Class AA state titles in 2011 and 2012 and their bid to three-peat in 2013 was dashed 14-13 by Bridgeport in the Wheeling Island Stadium snow.
Then there’s Sissonville and its recent success and Chapmanville Regional with its playoff runs in recent years, making it all the way to the Class AA state semifinals in 2011.
Poca, which won three straight state championships in 2001-03, has had success in the past as well as Tolsia, which advanced all the way to the 2006 state title game, before falling to county rival and conference foe Wayne, 33-6.
Mingo Central, now in its fifth season since the consolidation of the old Williamson, Gilbert, Matewan and Burch high schools, broke out of the pack last year with a 10-2 season, eventually losing to Wayne, 35-17 in the quarterfinals after knocking off Sissonville, 35-13, in the opening round.
Other conference schools Scott and Herbert Hoover have also tasted success.
Just how strong was the Cardinal Conference last year?
Four schools — Wayne (10-3), Mingo Central (10-2), Scott (7-4) and Sissonville (7-4) — made it to the playoffs.
Herbert Hoover (6-4) just missed the post-season but gave the conference a fifth team with a winning record.
Chapmanville (4-6) and Tolsia (4-6) were in the playoff picture until the very end of the season.
The winless Poca Dots (0-10) were the only team last year which struggled.
Wayne was the No. 4 seed last year in the playoffs, while Mingo Central was No. 5. Scott was ranked 10th and Sissonville 12th.
Scott lost 28-22 to No. 7 Nicholas County in the playoffs.
The Cardinal Conference had a very successful 2014 season but some have said the league is over-rated.
Cardinal teams, however, continue to let their football do the talking.
Chapmanville coach George Barker said another strong season of Cardinal football is ahead this fall.
“I don’t know if it’s possible but I would like to see every team in the conference make it to the playoffs,” Barker said. “You look at the way some of those wins and losses fall every year. Team A will beat Team B, Team B will beat C and C comes back to beat A. You just never know how it’s going to fall out.”
Barker said when you talk about the league you have to start with Wayne, the defending conference champions.
“You have to beat Wayne. They are the ones who set the bar in our conference,” Barker said. “You have to put them first. Mingo had a great run last year. I think they are looking forward to having a good team. Sissonville, Scott and Hoover all feel like they are going to be good. We just go play them and we’ll take what we can get. If we can compete that’s what we want to do.”
Tolsia also looks to be improved. The Rebels beat Chapmanville 31-20 last year in Week 9 on the road.
The Tigers were just 1-6 last fall in conference play with the lone win being a 34-14 victory over Poca in Week 4.
Chapmanville opened last year with a 42-14 defeat at Sissonville. The Indians have won the last three meetings with the Tigers and lead the overall series 5-4 since Chapmanville joined the Cardinal Conference in 2007.
The Indians will be another tough opener for CRHS as Sissonville returns running back Jared Wilkinson, QB Chance Brown and a good chunk of linemen on both sides of the ball.
Sissonville, however, lost longtime head coach Eddie Smolder, who bolted for Ripley. The new coach is Marc Wilson, a former South Charleston defensive coordinator.
“Every game is big in the Cardinal Conference,” Barker said.
Final 2014 Cardinal Conference
TEAM CONF. ALL PF PA
Wayne………………….. 7-0 8-2 314 176
Mingo Central………… 6-1 9-1 475 179
Scott……………………. 5-2 7-3 301 232
Sissonville…………….. 4-3 7-3 298 152
Herbert Hoover………. 3-4 6-4 372 261
Tolsia…………………… 3-5 4-6 194 238
Chapmanville…………. 1-6 4-6 240 334
Poca…………………….. 0-7 0-10 95 466
Cardinal Conference teams
in the 2014 playoffs
Round of 16
No. 4 Mingo Central 35, No. 13 Sissonville 13
No. 5 Wayne 43, No. 12 Fairmont Senior 40
No. 7 Nicholas County 28, No. 10 Scott 22
No. 5 Wayne 35, No. 4 Mingo Central 17
No. 1 Bridgeport 48, No. 5 Wayne 7