Salmons still thinks Thomas will make his mark before the season ends.
"Going into the year, Kasey was really good,'' Salmons said. "I couldn't tell you how good he was. We scrimmaged Wayne and he had 300 all-purpose yards. But he got hurt before the first game, and we plug Matthews in and he [averages] over 100-some yards the first three games.
"Even our JVs and our freshmen understand our offense - everything - in case someone does go down.''
Salmons said it became a process of teaching his system to a new group of players.
"Everybody has a preference, I guess,'' he said, "and it could be the lineman in me, I don't know. But I just like the mentality of it.
"If you're running the ball, you've also got to have that defensive mindset - be physical and be tough. Be that kind of team. In my opinion, that sort of [running game] goes hand in hand with your defense. It goes with the program all together. You get a lot better on defense because you know you have to be tough and physical, even in practice on both offense and defense, and it matches your mentality. It fits our program, it fits our kids and it fits our school, and it's one of the reasons they really want to come here and be that type of team at Cabell Midland.''
The Knights, who still have games left against highly ranked teams such as Woodrow Wilson, Capital and Hurricane, have proven to be kind of a throwback team competing in the Mountain State Athletic Conference.
With teams like St. Albans tinkering with a spread offense, much like South Charleston and Capital and others before them, more and more MSAC schools are fielding wide-open passing attacks. But even though Midland believes it can throw the ball if it chooses, expect Salmons to stick to his roots and stick to the ground game.
"It seems like every team we play runs some version of the spread,'' Salmons said, "except for Spring Valley. And it's a challenge, but at the same time, it's a challenge for them to have to play our type of football in a week instead of working on something different at practice.
"I like coaching here because of the challenges, and the kids do, too. They know every week's important.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.