By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
When it comes to Four Seasons Country, mid-July means .... football season is closing in.
That’s right. On Aug. 5, just 18 days from now, high school football practice in Virginia and West Virginia will begin.
Twenty-five days later, and foot will meet pigskin and the season will begin.
With the Virginia High School League finally releasing its master schedule for the upcoming season, here is a very brief look at what lies ahead for each of the 20 teams that will be included in the 2013 BDT Blitz, our 40-page high school and college football supplement that will be ready for use on Aug. 23.
Look for a list of 25 (or more) games to watch in the 2013 season in Sunday’s Daily Telegraph.
Bluefield: (9-3 in 2012): The Beavers open with Graham and finish with two-time defending Class AA champion Wayne, who have won the last two state title games by a combined score 69-7. Bluefield will also host Richlands and Gate City, and visit Princeton and River View.
James Monroe (2-8): John Mustain faces a rebuilding project in Lindside, where the once-proud Mavericks have endured two straight two-win seasons. James Monroe has replaced Narrows with Greenbrier East to open the season. The Mavs will host also Princeton in a rare meeting.
Montcalm (5-4): Jimmy Redmond has devised a more manageable schedule, opening the year with five straight home games. The Generals will play a trio of small schools from Virginia in Narrows, Northwood and Auburn. They will also visit Tennessee to face Tri-Cities Christian.
Mount View (3-7): Todd McCoy was able to oversee the end of a 31-game win streak in his first year as coach. Mount View plays three straight at home to open the season, including River View and Man, followed by four on the road, including Wyoming East, which lost in Welch to end the streak.
PikeView (0-10): Bobby Wyatt’s first season wasn’t fun, 0-10 records rarely are. The Panthers have lost 17 games in a row, last winning at Liberty in 2011, which is where the Panthers will spend Week 3. PikeView will then play three straight games at home and three more on the road.
Princeton (2-8): Randy Peek officially took over the Tigers during the first week of fall drills last August. Princeton did win two of their last four games to snap a 10-game losing skid. Offseason workouts with lots of participation bodes well for the Tigers, which will host Bluefield and visit James Monroe.
River View (6-5): River View made a late run to snag the final Class AA playoff spot. The Raiders will play three of its first four games on the road, including at Mount View and James Monroe. That will be followed by a trio of home tilts in Bradshaw, including Bluefield and PikeView.
Summers County (7-4): Summers County will be coached by former Giles and Concord standout Nathan Tanner. The Bobcats reached the playoffs last season for the first time in nearly two decades. Summers County will play 10 straight weeks without a bye in the schedule.
Wyoming East (7-4): The Warriors were playoff bound for the first time in five years despite losing to Mount View to help the Knights snap that long losing skid. Wyoming East will see plenty of ‘Views’ this season, with Mount View, River View and PikeView on tap in successive weeks.
Bland County (0-10): The Bears will open the season riding a 14-game losing skid, having gone winless in 2012. Bland County will open with three home games before hitting the road for four of the next five weeks. Craig County has replaced Patrick Henry as the opening game of the season.
Giles (10-2): Giles rolled to another Three Rivers District title last season — when district play still mattered — before falling to surprising John Battle in the playoffs. Giles schedules’ tough, opening with Blacksburg and Christiansburg, and will also pay a visit in Week 4 to Graham.
Graham (7-4): Mike Williams has guided the G-Men to the playoffs twice, but is still looking for that first postseason win. Graham opens with four rivals — two away from Mitchell Stadium — in Bluefield, Tazewell, Richlands and Grundy. The final two games are on the road.
Grundy (4-7): Grundy showed signs of progress under first year coach Jeremy Ward, and the Golden Wave has improved its slate by adding former SWD foes Graham, Richlands and Tazewell. The Golden Wave has two schools from Kentucky in the schedule, one of which will be on the road.
Haysi (8-4): Haysi hopes to take advantage of six home games, including a final Friday visit from Honaker. The Tigers will face teams from three states, including Tug Valley from West Virginia and Harlan in Kentucky. At least Thomas Walker has to make the long trip to Dickenson County.
Honaker (13-2): Four of the first five games for the Division I state runner-up will be on the road. Honaker, which lost in the state finals to George Wythe, will visit Lebanon and John Battle in the opening five weeks, and will host mighty Clintwood in Week 7.
Hurley (6-5): The Rebels could get the prize for most travel miles. Hurley will open with a trip to Kentucky, will make the grueling trip to Thomas Walker in Ewing and to Craig County near Roanoke, but will get to host a pair of schools from the Bluegrass State.
Narrows (1-9): The Green Wave had lost 18 straight games before winning at Bland County. Narrows, which has suffered from enrollment declines, has a more manageable schedule, replacing James Monroe with struggling Auburn, along with a visit to Montcalm.
Richlands (9-2): Richlands has tweaked its schedule with the revamped VHSL classification system. The Big Blues will visit Bluefield, Union and Lord Botetourt, which is near Roanoke, while adding former rivals Virginia High and Grundy to a slate that also includes Gate City.
Tazewell (2-9): Shane Allen and the ‘Dogs snapped an 18-game losing skid and even earned a playoff spot. The good news is the Bulldogs play five of its last six games at home. The bad news is the first four games are on the road, including trips to Bristol, Graham, Blountville, Tenn. and Chilhowie.
Twin Valley (1-9): Few schools has struggled as much on the gridiron as the Panthers, having won one game in each of the last three seasons. Twin Valley will play schools from Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky in search of wins in 2013. Three of the final four games will be on the road.
Much more on the upcoming high school — and college — football season in the coming weeks. Stay tuned, it’s almost football time in Four Seasons Country.
—Brian Woodson is the sports editor for the Daily Telegraph. He encourages feedback at email@example.com