By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Football season is back. Twenty-five of the 26 teams in the region will kick off the season, either on Friday or Saturday.
Only Concord has to wait another week. Pity the Mountain Lions.
What lies ahead in the season ahead? No high school team since Bluefield in 2009 has won a state championship. Is there a contender in 2013? We’ll find out in the next 11 weeks.
While time creeps by from the start of August until the first kick of the season — which is fine for those of us putting out football tabs — it absolutely flies past on the season begins.
Get out to a game soon, it won’t last long.
What lies ahead in Week 1?
•Graham at Bluefield: It will be Graham’s strength against Bluefield’s speed. Graham hasn’t won two straight over the Beavers since 2001-02. Rookie QBs take the field, Colby Hill for Graham, R.J. Bourne for Bluefield.
•James Monroe at Greenbrier East: It’s just the name, John Mustain and the Mavericks seem to go together like football and Friday nights. Aaron Baker is also a first-year coach for the Class AAA Spartans.
•River View at Mount View: The Golden Knights are 0-3 since River View came into existence in 2010. Gehrig Justice will make his head coaching debut with the Raiders. Todd McCoy is in his second year with the Knights.
•PikeView at Summers County: Another new coach, Nathan Tanner, takes over the Bobcats. Second-year coach Bobby Wyatt and PikeView have lost 17 in a row dating back to 2011.
•Shady Spring at Princeton: The Tigers will win this one, and lose it too. Randy Peek has Princeton’s excited for his second season at the helm, while Shady Spring is two seasons away from the state semis.
•Wyoming East at Mingo Central: The Warriors reached the postseason for the first time since 2008. “Yogi” Kinder has led the Miners to records of 5-5 and 5-6 in two seasons of existence.
•Craig County at Bland County: The Rockets will land at what used to be home of the Rockets of Bland High School. Bland County has lost 14 straight. Craig County has dropped four in a row.
•Blacksburg at Giles: The Division 2 Spartans start with the D-3 Bruins, followed by D-4 Christiansburg. Giles has won the last two in what has become an annual season-opening series.
•Grundy at Twin Valley: Jeremy Ward won his debut with the Golden Wave last season by 30 over the Panthers. Twin Valley’s 23 wins is the fewest by any area team since 2001. PikeView has 24 victories.
•Haysi at Castlewood: David Scammell was surprisingly relieved of his coaching duties at Castlewood, and replaced by Lebanon assistant Darrell Taylor. James Colley is one of the more innovative coaches in the area.
•Honaker at Lebanon: Russell County bragging rights at stake. Honaker reached the Division 1 state championship game last season. Doug Hubbard is among the elder statesmen on area sidelines for the Tigers.
•Auburn at Narrows: The Green Wave snapped an 18-game losing streak last season. Auburn arrives having lost 39 in a row dating back to the opening week of 2009.
•Gate City at Richlands: Gray Baker won’t play this week, and will be replaced at quarterback by River Michaels. The Blue Devils are an uncharacteristic 8-13 over the last two years, including 2-8 in 2012.
•Tazewell at Virginia High: Year No. 2 for Shane Allen, whose Bulldogs will play four straight on the road to open the season. The Bearcats defeated Graham in a benefit game last week with new coach Michael Crist.
•Hundred at Montcalm: The Generals are optimistic, having finished 5-4 last season, scoring 60 points at Hundred. The Hornets have won 12 games since 2004, and have been 0-10 the last two years, and three of the last four.
•Hurley at East Ridge, Ky: Greg Tester has build a consistent winner with the Rebels, who, like Montcalm, will wait until Saturday to play. East Ridge is 2-18 since 2011, including a 21-0 win last Friday to start 1-0.
Look for predictions for each game on Friday’s edition.
As for the colleges, let’s do that now. Five of the six football teams in the region will also take the field. Here is a look brief look at each game, and, yes, I will be picking the Crimson Tide.
Hey, so is everyone else.
•Virginia Tech vs. Alabama: The Hokies had a legitimate shot and actually led in the fourth quarter when these teams met in Atlanta in 2009. Not this time. ‘Bama is going for a third straight national title and fourth in the last five years, while the Hokies will have 27 true and redshirt freshmen among the 71 players making the trip to the Georgia Dome. That doesn’t bode well... Alabama 34, Virginia Tech 6.
•William & Mary at West Virginia: At this time next August, all the hype will be West Virginia and Alabama in Atlanta. The prediction will be much the same, but the Mountaineers should have no trouble with the Tribe, which won just two games last season, but only lost 7-6 to Maryland. Who will quarterback West Virginia the following week at Oklahoma, and is the defense going to be improved...West Virginia 32, William & Mary 17.
•Miami (Ohio) at Marshall: Expectations are high for the Thundering Herd, who have won six of their last eight home openers, with both defeats coming to West Virginia. Rakeem Cato will come out throwing, while the Redskins are moving on without quarterback Zac Dysert, who is now with the Denver Broncos. Joe Woodrum, a tight end who played one season at Bluefield, was placed on scholarship this week by the Herd. Devon Johnson of Richlands has impressed in the preseason. Now, for the defense...Marshall 38, Miami (Ohio) 23.
•Brigham Young at Virginia: OK, Georgia starts the season with Clemson and South Carolina, but it is doubtful any other school in the nation starts the season tougher than the Cavaliers, who host Brigham Young and Oregon in the opening two weeks. There was a time when Brigham Young threw the ball all over the field and defense was a necessity, now the Cougars are all about the defensive side of the ball. David Watford will face a tall task in his return as quarterback of the Cavaliers...Brigham Young 23, Virginia 14.
•Bluefield at Point: Two second year programs meet in Alabama, which is where Point University is located after moving from Georgia. The Rams were 0-11 last season, but have new leadership in Ordell Walker, while the Skyhawks won twice, finishing 2-7, but did win two its last three. No film was exchanged by these teams so this will be a duel of adjustments. Josh Erby will get the nod at quarterback for the Rams, while Marion Harris, Rodrell Smith and Richard Johnson can make plays. Frank Brooks will lead a defense that will have to keep its legs after an eight-hour bus ride...Point 21, Bluefield 20.
•Concord at Lenoir-Rhyne: No guess on this one. They don’t meet until Sept. 7.
Oh, as for a college football champion in the last year of the BCS, the champion is...(who else) Alabama. If not, it will be Georgia. Either way, the SEC makes it eight in a row.
—Brian Woodson is the sports editor for the Daily Telegraph. He encourages feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org