Chris Yambrick is in a unique situation.
After all, not many athletes can say they’re playing on two top-ranked teams simultaneously.
Not just that, but both teams are undefeated.
He is a kicker on the Woodrow Wilson football team, 7-0 and No. 1 in the Class AAA ratings for the sixth straight week. The Eagles travel to Huntington Friday.
He is also a stopper on Woodrow Wilson’s 17-0-2 soccer team that recently ascended to the top spot in the soccer poll.
“It’s special and nice that both teams are where they are right now, especially since it’s my senior year,” Yambrick said. “I doesn’t mean as much as winning the championship. Rankings are nice but all that matters is where you are at the end of the season.”
And to think, it almost wasn’t to be.
Yambrick gave up both sports prior to beginning his varsity career.
“I started playing soccer when I was five up through eighth grade,” Yambrick said. “I guess I got a little burnt out on it there for a while. I really like soccer a lot and I realized that I had been missing a lot. I’m a senior, I want to do everything I can.”
Which includes a return to the gridiron.
“I kicked in ninth grade at Park,” Yambrick said. “I asked coach Lilly if I could I could come and kick and play soccer and he said that would be fine.”
Yambrick’s typical day begins with an hour at football practice after school followed by soccer practice later in the evening or a game. On non-game days he gets home at 7 p.m. On some of the MSAC trips he doesn’t get home until midnight or later.
Of course, his double life is a constant source of levity for his teammates.
“The guys on the soccer team, they’re always telling me that they can kick it farther than I can,” Yambrick said. “It’s all in fun. I thought I’d get a lot of beef from the football guys. But they more or less ask me how things are going in soccer. A lot of the guys never played. They’ll ask questions.”
One thing they don’t question is his toughness. Yambrick isn’t the typical kicker; he doesn’t trot near the sideline. He’s looking to bring the leather after sending the ball down field.
“I play soccer that way, too,” Yambrick said. “I like the physical game. I play basketball and the more physical the game, the better I like it. I’d go out and play defense if they’d put me in.”
“We have an understanding,” football coach John H. Lilly said. “Chris kicks and other guys play defense and offense.”
Lilly does respect what Yambrick brings to the table.
“He’s averaged one or two tackles on special teams,” Lilly said. “He’s not afraid to get in there. A lot of people don’t know it but he suffered a severely twisted ankle prior to the Capital game (it
happened during a soccer match with Nitro the day before) and still kicked for us. He’s a tough kid.”
He also made his lone field goal in that game, a 32-yard kick that wasn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing but never-the-less got the job done. It was Woodrow Wilson’s first field goal since the 2000 season.He also has 16 PATs.
“Yeah, that field goal wasn’t one of my better kicks,” Yambrick said of the kick which was made on a bum ankle. “But I’ve worked on it. My field goals are a lot better than they were earlier in the season.”
“In fairness, we don’t try a lot of field goals because our attitude has always been if it’s fourth-and-3 we can get those three yards, so he doesn’t get a lot of chances,” Lilly said. “I have confidence in Chris that he can make it if we need him to do it.”
Yambrick is also a starting stopper on the soccer team, meaning that, much to his liking, he is a defensive-type player.
“I feel like it’s soccer where I may have lost something not playing those years,” Yambrick said. “Some of those guys are magicians with the ball.”
Yambrick was also the seventh or eighth man on Woodrow Wilson’s state runner-up basketball squad, a role he hopes to increase this winter.
For now, his focus is on the present.
“I’m really glad I played both sports,” Yambrick said. “I’ve got a lot of friends on both teams. I think if I would have just played one, I would have been missing out. I’m glad I’ve got my equal balance.”
If it came down to picking one or the other?
“Tough choice,” Yambrick said. “I guess I’d have to go with which game was most important ... I’m hoping it doesn’t come down to that.”
Indian Creek Redskins (5-3) at #22 Brooke Bruins (4-3) – Brooke ran into a second half buzz saw last Friday at Weir. The Bruins held a 10-7 lead in the third quarter before Red Rider tailback Corey Lyons ripped off three touchdowns en route to a 42-10 Weir victory. Ryan Cagot led the Brooke ground attack with 112 yards, while QB Jimmy Reitter connected with Gary Wallace for a nine yard scoring strike. This week the Bruins face Indian Creek, Ohio, which has now won four of its last five games with only a 20-7 loss to Weir in that stretch.
#5 John Marshall Monarchs (6-1) at #2 Morgantown Mohigans (8-0) – John Marshall makes its second straight trip to the University City to take on the unbeaten Mohigans. The Monarchs defeated University 24-17 last Friday to improve to 6-1. QB Cy Mozingo was 18 of 28 for 178 yards, and Matt Deel added field goals of 32 and 43 yards. RBs Josh Brady and Evan Hewitt added touchdown runs. While Morgantown has clinched a playoff spot, the Monarchs are hoping to gain home field advantage for at least the first round. Only John Marshall in 2001 and Wheeling Park in 2003 have beaten the Mohigans in the regular season since 1999. Morgantown was stifling on defense in its 19-0 blanking of Parkersburg South, holding the Patriots to just 19 yards. John Marshall will provide a stern test for the Mohigans, as Monarch QB Mozingo is 95 of 165 for 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Hewitt and Brady have combined for 12 rushing touchdowns.
Wheeling Park Patriots (3-4) at North Marion Huskies (2-5) – Wheeling Park rolled up 300 yards on the ground and another 90 through the air as the Park defeated Zanesville, Ohio 28-13. TB James Burress ran for 150 yards and three touchdowns. QB Matt Pearson was 8 of 15 for 90 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots now travel to North Marion to take on the unpredictable Huskies, who have wins over University (6-2) and East Fairmont (5-3). Wheeling Park must win out against North Marion, John Marshall and Brooke to have a chance at the postseason. The Patriot four losses have been to teams that are currently 31-1.
#8 Magnolia Blue Eagles (6-2) at #1 Williamstown Yellow Jackets (7-0) – The last team to defeat Williamstown in the regular season was Magnolia in 2001. The Blue Eagles now have the opportunity to halt Williamstown’s attempt to tie the state record of 44 consecutive regular season wins. The Blue Eagles outlasted Tyler Consolidated 42-24 behind a brilliant performance by Josh Sims. Sims rushed 28 times for 125 yards and three touchdowns, completed 12 of 17 for 164 yards and two scores, and managed another 164 yards on returns, including a 94 yard scoring jaunt on the opening kickoff. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets cruised by Wirt County 47-0.
#5 Wheeling Central Maroon Knights (5-2) at #2 Weir Red Riders (7-1) – The Weir Red Riders displayed their explosive offense by scoring 35 second half points in a 42-10 romp of the Brooke Bruins. RB Corey Lyons ran for 238 yards and three touchdowns, including a 99-yard scamper at the outset of the fourth quarter. QB Brandon Sperlazza wasn’t asked to throw much as he was just 3 of 5 for 47 yards. The Maroon Knights ended their two game losing streak with a dominating 41-14 win over Toronto. Brandon Tucker rushed for 150 yards and two scores, while running mate Chris Martin ripped off scoring runs of 38 and 43 yards. Though Weir has clinched a playoff spot, the Maroon Knights are not as safe with upcoming games against Linsly and Oak Glen. Central won last year’s meeting 8-6.
Paden City (0-7) at Bishop Donahue (4-3) and Tyler ( 3-4 at Grafton (2-5)
#12 Cameron Dragons (6-2) at #21 Madonna Blue Dons (5-2) – Cameron shocked previously-unbeaten Clay-Battelle 10-0 last Friday to seriously enhance their playoff chances. The Dragon defense was outstanding, holding the CeeBees to 150 yards of total offense and six first downs. Jeff Pettit led the Dragons with 73 yards rushing and also had a late game interception at the goal line to preserve the shutout. QB Brandon Rush scored the only touchdown on a one yard run. This is a must game for Madonna as the Blue Dons are ranked 21st this week. Madonna finishes out with Bishop Donahue and Valley. The Blue Dons smacked Hundred 45-0. Matt Ceran ran for 210 yards and four touchdowns. The Hornets were held to five first downs and just 90 yards of offense.
South Charleston senior tailback Tommy Spurlock hardly can hold back a slight chuckle when he thinks about his high school football career prior to 2004.
“This is mind-boggling to me knowing that I could win more games this season than I have in my career,” the four-year starter said Friday following the Black Eagles’ 41-7 rout of Riverside. “It’s a great feeling. I love it.”
South Charleston improved to 5-2, giving it more wins than any Black Eagle team since 2000 when Todd Chevalier — now the coach at Sissonville — guided SC to a 5-5 record.
The last time the Eagles won more than five games was 1994 when they finished 12-2 and owned the Class AAA state title.
“That’s (South Charleston) a playoff team this year, there’s no question about that,” Riverside Coach Dick Whitman said.
South Charleston, which, according to Whitman, boasts more talent than any team Riverside has played other than Beckley, has done it with defense ... for a change.
“Our defense has been playing well all year,” said South Charleston Coach Vernon Redman, whose team stopped Riverside on three occasions inside the Black Eagles’ 30-yard line.
“That’s been the difference this year. Last year, we could score points but had trouble stopping people.”
Last season, South Charleston averaged more than 28 points per game but gave up more than 27.
This season, the Eagles are averaging only 23.6 points per game but are allowing only 16.7. That is the least they have surrendered on average since, well, 1994 when they gave up, well, 16.7 points per game during the regular season.
“We get together and tell our players to look in your hearts,” defensive back Will Collins said.
The Black Eagles held the Warriors to 46 rushing yards and 66 passing yards.
OFFENSIVELY, THE Eagles boast arguably the most talent in the state. But their line has been an anomaly.
While most offensive lines seem to be better at run blocking, the Eagles perform much better when forced to protect their quarterback.
Shaad Coleman completed 10-of-17 passes with three touchdowns against the Warriors and hardly was touched. Spurlock, on the other hand, had only 39 rushing yards on 13 carries.
“Our line is smaller,” Spurlock said. “So, we have a harder time running the ball. But when we can sit back and let them protect our quarterback, they do well.”
Spurlock was a 1,000-yard rusher last year but is on pace to finish with only 777 this year. Coleman, on the other hand, already has thrown for 1,094 yards with 10 touchdown passes.
“We don’t have a lot of size, but we have a lot of heart,” said junior tackle Chris Stover, who stands only 6 feet and weighs just 190 pounds. “We have a lot of athletes and speed on the line. Last year, we had a lot of size and not a lot of mobility.”
From tackle to tackle — Stover, left guard Brandon Rinehart (5-10, 195), center Josh Pauley (5-5, 165), right guard Justin Schoolcraft (5-4, 225) and right tackle Jake Young (5-11, 265) — South Charleston averages 208 pounds on the offensive line.
SPEAKING OF Coleman, he completed passes to six different receivers and is 63-of-109 (57.7 percent) this season.
All three of Coleman’s touchdown passes went to talented sophomore Dominique Green, who has caught 12 passes for 238 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Green is one of four SC receivers with at least 10 receptions this season. The others are Jeremy Booker (14-278), Shane Hall (13-185) and Collins (10-269).
“We’re so talented, we feel like we can do anything with the ball,” said Spurlock, whose cousin Deion Spurlock had a 60-yard touchdown run.
WHITMAN MIGHT begin to experiment more with his team after it fell to 3-4.
He did somewhat in the second half against SC, putting sophomore Chucky Erby in the game at quarterback.
“Nick (Veazey) had a little bit of a rough first half and he plays defense,” Whitman said. “We think Erby has some talent. He throws the ball a little better and has a little better delivery.”
RUNNING BACK Chad McClure, in his second game after a two-game suspension, led the Warriors with 44 rushing yards on 14 carries.