Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

August 1, 2012

Column: Lots of choices on Football Friday nights

BLUEFIELD — For the first time in recent memory, at least according to Giles head coach Jeff Williams, high school football practice began in July.

While there are other sports also beginning, including soccer — in West Virginia — volleyball, golf and cross country, football is the sport that signals the beginning of another school year.

The first games will begin in just 22 days, or just over three weeks away. There is plenty to do for the Daily Telegraph sports staff and our very helpful correspondents. Football runs begin today, continue on Friday with Mount View and Graham, and will take up plenty of time next week.

It will all culminate with the Blitz 2012 supplement, which will feature 20 high schools, five universities and one college, and will be published on Aug. 24. The Daily Telegraph will also sponsor bdtblitz.com again this season. Eight schools will be added to the 11 that were on there last season to give us 19.

Last season was a rare one for the area. Football was over for all the teams in local coverage area when River View and Richlands were eliminated after game 12. No trip to Wheeling or Lynchburg, just an early welcome to basketball season.

Will this season be different? That remains to be seen, but there are plenty of games on tap. There will be plenty of new faces this season, especially on the sidelines. Mount View will have just its fourth head coach in school history, with Todd McCoy stepping in for Leon Gravely. Shane Allen becomes the fourth head coach in four years at Tazewell.

Bobby Wyatt, the first of that Tazewell quartet is now at PikeView, while Princeton is currently under the direction of Randy Peek, who replaced 23-year coaching veteran Ted Spadaro on an interim basis.

Here is a look at few of the games being played. Counting down the top games this season is quite a challenge. No. 1 was easy, the rest are personal preference since there really isn’t a consensus on how good or bad any teams in the area will be.

This list includes all 20 schools in our coverage area at least one time.

1). Bluefield at Graham, Aug. 24. Unfortunately, this game isn’t what it once was, but it will still get lots of publicity and huge crowds. Bluefield has won the last three, and have done it by a combined score of 147-21. No wonder the most exciting topic related to this game in recent years has been tailgating rules and the erroneous report that ESPN was heading back in town. The G-Men are out to make ESPN want to come back again.  

2). River View at Bluefield, Oct. 5. The creation of the Raiders from Big Creek and Iaeger formed another local Class AA school and meant a new rivalry was born. River View could possibly be the top team in the area this season, while the hungry Beavers are eyeing a return to the postseason.

3. Graham at Tazewell, Aug. 31. Shane Allen will coach his first home game for the Bulldogs against the G-Men. Tazewell will enter the season with 11 straight losses and a 1-19 mark over the last two years. Graham has won four in a row in the series since losing twice in 2008, a season that saw the Bulldogs fall to Richlands in overtime in the Region IV championship game.

4). Union at Richlands, Aug. 31. It was Union, in its first season since the consolidation of heavyweights Powell Valley and Appalachia, that gave the Blue Tornado’s its closest call in an 11-0 start to the campaign. As is usually the case, Richlands was hit hard by graduation. As is usually the case, it probably won’t matter.

5). Princeton at Bluefield, Aug. 31. Bluefield will play its first six games on its home turf, with the Tigers following the G-Men. Princeton beat the Beavers last season, but a new wrinkle has been thrown into the rivalry, with the Tigers being led by Peek, who will learn tonight if he will get the job on a full-time basis.

 6). Christiansburg at Giles, Aug. 31. Giles had just one loss prior to a second round playoff loss to Gretna, and that was against the Blue Demons, which finished 13-1, falling to Briar Woods in the Division 4 state championship game. Taming the single wing is never an easy chore.

7). Mount View at River View, Aug. 24. Finally, after two seasons the Raiders will get to a play home game in Bradshaw. Since opening in 2010, River View has had to play their ‘home’ affairs in Welch. River View will now open its stadium against Mount View, which has lost 27 games in a row.

8). Tazewell at Richlands, Nov. 2. OK, the Blue Tornado has dominated this series in recent seasons, having won nine in a row since Tazewell finished 1-9, but beat Richlands in 2003. Richlands has won the last three by a combined score of 169-38. It’s up to the Bulldogs to make this series count again. This will be the last time these teams play as Southwest District rivals.

9). Haysi at Honaker, Nov. 2. The game has decided the Black Diamond District title for two decades, and that isn’t expected to change this season. Honaker has won the last two meetings with the ‘other’ Tigers in the district. Honaker finished 10-3 last year, reaching the Division I state quarterfinals. Haysi’s James Colley is one of the more underrated coaches in the area.

10). Bluefield at Wayne, Nov. 2. Bluefield still had outside hopes of a playoff appearance last season and got punched by the Pioneers by 51. The Beavers are 2-2 against Wayne in the last four seasons, winning the 2009 state title, while the Pioneers eliminated the Beavers the previous season.

11). James Monroe at River View, Sept. 21. Much is expected from the Raiders this season. The equally purple-clad Mavericks are coming off their worst year in recent memory. Give River View credit, they have tried to find some local schools to play, and this will definitely be a challenge for both teams.

12). Narrows at Bland County, Sept. 28. This is small school, small team football right here. Bland County won a slugfest last year from the Green Wave, and this one will be equally competitive to the end. The Green Wave went 0-10 last year, and don’t want to repeat that record again.

13). PikeView at James Monroe, Sept. 14. At least Matthew Romanello is no longer around to run all over the Panthers as he did in their last two meetings. Bobby Wyatt has taken over at PikeView, while the Mavericks have missed the playoffs the last two seasons.

14). Montcalm at Twin Valley, Aug. 31. Another small school rivalry with two teams looking for a rare win in the season’s second game. Montcalm will enter this season on a rare two-game win streak, while the Panthers won one game in 2011.

15). Radford at Giles, Nov. 2. In recent seasons, this matchup has determined the Three Rivers District title. Giles got the crown back last season. The TRD could come down to the final Friday once again.

16). Lebanon at Honaker, Aug. 24. Bragging rights in Russell County are at stake in this one. This is usually an entertaining affair, and neither team wants to start the season 0-1.

17). Richlands at Graham, Sept. 7. This series has one-sided since the G-Men stunned the Blue Tornado in 2007 to snap a long Southwest District win streak for Richlands.

18). Gate City at Bluefield, Sept. 28. Bluefield, which barely played at home last season, will keep local reporters busy this season with lots of games at Mitchell. This contest will feature a pair of rivals with as much tradition as any school in the region.

19). Giles at Narrows, Sept. 14. One of the better rivalries in the area, although Giles has long dominated the affair. Narrows, which has been hurt by continued enrollment declines, last left this series victorious in 2002.

20). Graham at Princeton, Sept. 28. Group A vs. Class AAA might seem unfair, but the Tigers will be the G-Men’s fifth straight AA or higher opponent to start the season.

21). Westside at River View, Nov. 2. These clubs have played two entertaining games to end the last two regular seasons. They finished tied at 16-16 in 2011 when overtime couldn’t even decide the outcome, and the Renegades won a shootout 48-40 last year. The Raiders are 17-6 in two seasons in existence.

22). Carroll County at Richlands, Oct. 12. Richlands will be looking for its ninth straight and final Southwest District championship with realignment coming next season in high school football. The Blue Tornado hasn’t lost an SWD game since losing to Graham in 2007.

23). Grundy at Hurley, Sept. 7. Hurley lost as much to graduation as any team in the area, and the Rebels don’t have a deep roster. Grundy, in its second season under Jeremy Ward, will play its second Black Diamond District game in the opening three weeks.

24). Richlands at Pulaski County, Sept. 14. The Cougars finished with a 1-10 record last season, reaching the playoffs with a 1-9 record. Richlands will play a third of three straight road games in this one against a school with a proud tradition not used to many bad seasons.

25). Summers County at Wyoming East, Sept. 14. Two of the eight new schools to be found on bdtblitz.com will meet in this one. The Bobcats were 5-5 last season after an 0-10 mark in 2010. The Warriors were also 5-5 last year.

There are many more games, but that is just a few. There is still Bluefield at James Monroe, Princeton at Woodrow Wilson, Haysi at Clintwood, Mount View at Man, Tazewell at Giles and the list just keeps on going.

Take your pick. There are games every Friday worth watching. Enjoy the season. It goes by fast.

—Brian Woodson is the sports editor at the Daily Telegraph. He can be contacted at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

1
Text Only
Sports column
Local Sports
Columns
Facebook
NDN Video
Tour Confidential: What Impact Will Tiger's Absence Have on Golf? Pujols joins 500 club Wall: 'This was a make or break year for me' Klatt's Mock Draft: Top 10 Klatt's Mock Draft: Late 1st round Marcus Spears: Cowboys Needs on Draft Day Could Bridgewater Make Scouts Look Foolish? NFL Draft: Will Manziel Be Off The Board By Pick No. 4? Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes Race to avoid Premier League relegation heats up The many faces of Mike Woodson Draft Preview: Ego Ferguson Chelsea, Atletico set to do battle in Champions League With The Twelfth Pick, The New York Giants Select... Rosenthal: Trout's contract was a compromise Trail Blazers battle back, overcome Rockets in OT Martinez slams home run to help Tigers top Angels With The Thirteenth Pick, The St. Louis Rams Select... Knicks Fire Mike Woodson Dramatic Moments of the Week: 4/14-4/20