There were mitigating factors. First, five of those final six games were against teams that qualified for the AAA playoffs. Second, Capital finished the season without seven starters because of season-ending injuries.
The rash spread quickly and severely. In the first eight plays of Game 5 against Hurricane, the Cougars lost three of their top players - lineman Taylor Hurst (knee), Richmond (knee) and fullback-linebacker Dustin Pullin (broken leg). Only Richmond would eventually return.
A week later during practice, two-year starting quarterback Tyler McClaskie dislocated a shoulder and was gone for the year.
"We had our share of it,'' Carpenter said. "I remember when we played [George Washington] we had more people in sweat suits than uniforms. There's nothing you can do about it. Some of those were freak accidents. I know that nobody at that end of our schedule felt sorry for us.
"I think our kids understand now that if you want to beat teams like Morgantown or Martinsburg, you have to prepare your body in the offseason - [to avoid] a lot of those nagging injuries. Lifting weights is as much injury prevention as anything. Some guys didn't prepare as much as they should have and got nagging injuries and they just couldn't get over it. I think a lot of these guys have done a little more this year to get ready, and that should help us keep more people in uniforms.''
Morris led the Cougars to a late-season upset win at Cabell Midland by hitting on 13-of-18 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns, but they couldn't keep the momentum going, losing three straight to GW, Woodrow Wilson and Huntington to end the season.
"Some people probably wasn't ready to step up,'' Morris said. "I mean, they thought they may have been ready. I thought I may have been ready, but maybe in reality I wasn't. That was a big key.''
Carpenter thinks that the hard-knocks experience his players received at the end of last season - using plenty of freshmen and sophomores to fill in the void - could pay off this time around.
"We got danced on a little bit at the end of the year,'' he said. "That's probably the bad taste you get. You get whipped a couple times, you get embarrassed. That'll be the tale of this season - if our guys bounce back from that. Life gets tough. That's why football parallels life. You don't fight back when it gets tough, it's a long season, a long life.
"Was it Willie Nelson who said, 'God only made one mistake: He wasted experience on old people?' We don't have many seniors. The way high school football is now, if you start as a ninth grader [it helps later]. We had several guys play a lot. Now you're really a sophomore, but we've got a lot of 10th graders who played a lot on Friday nights. That could remedy some of things we went through last year.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.