CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Capital and its young guns had quite the season last year, going 7-3 and locking up the No. 7 seed for the Class AAA football playoffs.
A first-round loss to Musselman in the postseason put a bit of a damper on that enthusiasm, but nearly all of the Cougars' skill-position players are back this year and have grown accordingly in height and weight.
How much they've grown in talent remains the key issue, but they looked pretty solid Friday night during the opening night of the Mountain State Athletic Conference Grid-o-rama at Laidley Field.
Sophomore quarterback Tyrhee Pratt and junior running back-receiver Kashuan Haley led Capital to a 30-7 victory over Ripley in a two-quarter scrimmage that was finished by backups for both squads.
Pratt completed 4 of 6 passes for 49 yards and Haley carried five times for 32 yards, including touchdown runs of 1 and 21 yards.
Senior running back James Richmond, a four-year starter, caught two passes for 20 yards and junior running back-receiver Tyrell Davis played a smidgeon of quarterback out of the Wildcat formation, taking one carry 75 yards for a score.
Richmond and Davis also intercepted passes as defensive backs.
It's the kind of performance Capital fans have come to expect out of their youthful squad, which sported only five seniors on its entire roster last year and may not have many more than that holding down starting positions this season.
Despite that, the Cougars don't see any reason why a bunch of young players can't accomplish good - or great - things.
"I hope not,'' said Capital coach Jon Carpenter. "If you find that's true, don't tell me. You'll break my heart.
"I don't think [that matters]. A lot of those young guys lifted weights and their bodies are ready. We played young in the past because that's what we had. Now we're playing young because their DNA is pretty good.''
Especially Pratt. Last season as a mere ninth-grader, he excelled beyond his years, completing 94 of 182 passes for 1,444 yards and 17 TDs with just six interceptions.
Now, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Pratt expects more out of himself and his teammates.
"I feel real good,'' he said following the workout against Ripley. "My line this year, they got a year older and a lot of them have developed more [intensity] this year.