Each week I am going to pick a handful of games featuring Cardinal Conference and Mountain State Athletic Conference football teams to shine a spotlight on for any number of reasons. I will endeavor to put this feature out each Thursday, but since this is Week 1 and there are games on Thursday you’re getting it a day early.
1. Mingo Central at Point Pleasant
Ohio Valley Bank Field – Point Pleasant (Friday)
The defending Class AA state champions roll into Point Pleasant with a defending Kennedy Award winner at quarterback aiming to stop the Big Blacks’ 43-game regular season winning streak. Potential Game of the Year in Class AA right out of the gate. ‘Nuff said.
2. George Washington at South Charleston
South Charleston High, South Charleston (Thursday)
One of the best rivalries in the state kicks off the season for Kanawha Valley teams. Both teams have a lot to prove here. For South Charleston, the Black Eagles look to shake off an up-and-down 2016 and get the 2017 campaign off to a good start. For GW, the Patriots aim to knock off their neighbors for the first time in several years and perhaps kickstart the “Grant Wells for Kennedy Award” hype train.
3. Winfield at Hurricane
Redskin Stadium, Hurricane (Friday)
Another set of neighboring Kanawha Valley rivals get the season rolling on Friday. This is an especially intriguing installment of “The War on 34” with both the Redskins and Generals entering 2017 with high hopes and a decent bit of hype. Hurricane’s defense is expected to be solid and the Redskins have no shortage of weapons on offense. Winfield has a four-year starter at quarterback in Andrew Huff and plenty of experience back around him. This could be a classic in this series.
4. Chapmanville at Sissonville
Joe Sawyer Field, Sissonville (Friday)
This game got a lot more interesting this week with the news that Chapmanville quarterback Adam Vance suffered a knee injury and is out for an unknown (at least for now) amount of time. Sissonville had one of the best seasons in program history in 2016, but saw it end with a first-round upset by visiting Weir in the Class AA playoffs. The Indians lost a lot from that team, but coach Marc Wilson always seems to have his team ready to play. Prior to the Vance injury, I thought Chapmanville was a team that could make some noise in Class AA and potentially make a run in the playoffs. I’m not off the bandwagon just yet, but if Vance is out a significant amount of time that task gets a lot tougher for the Tigers.
5. St. Albans at Parkersburg
Stadium Field, Parkersburg (Friday)
As is more often the case in Class AAA Week 1 games, the winner of this games puts itself in a good spot for a potential playoff run while the loser could be looking at a long season. Both of these programs are attempting to regain some shine after a tough 10-year run. Consider this: the last time Parkersburg won a playoff game was the 2007 Class AAA state title game — against St. Albans. The Red Dragons haven’t been back to the playoffs since. SA had a rough go of things in 2016 with Scott Tinsley as head coach, but the former Nitro and West Virginia Tech coach has a history of turning things around in Year 2. Parkersburg is rebooting its program under first-year coach Mike Byus, a Madison native that found success in the coaching ranks in North Carolina. Should be a fun one at Stadium Field on Friday.