PRINCETON — Having an open week in the first week of the football is something that Princeton High head football coach Chris Pedigo doesn’t like to have on his schedule.
This year having the first week off worked out well as the Tigers did not have to try to schedule another game when the season was delayed wiping the first week out for all teams.
“I did my very best to try to get that fixed this year but it obviously worked out for us that we didn’t have to worry about trying to find another game since we were open that day,” Pedigo said.
The opening game of the season for Princeton remains the same with a trip to Mitchell Stadium to face Bluefield but the teams have added a second game as the Tigers games against two Virginia schools were canceled.
“We’re opening up with Bluefield on 9/4 and then we’re going to play them again at Princeton on 9/25. I’m still waiting for some guidance from administration and people at the board to what we can do and can’t do,” Pedigo said.
A issue is whether Princeton can schedule new away games where they have to travel outside of Mercer County.
The Tigers had found a game for September 25 but were told that they could not travel to the game and then the second game against Bluefield was added on that date.
“I’ve tried to schedule a game and we had a game scheduled and then kind of told that we couldn’t go out to do that game,” Pedigo said.
Princeton is still trying to find a team to fill its final spot on the schedule October 1 but has a strong schedule already.
The lone team on the Tigers schedule that is not a Class AAA school is the Beavers who have made three consecutive Class AA state finals and won the last three meetings between the schools.
Pedigo wants to play 10 games this year as that is what the team was expecting to play at the minimum and is not afraid to schedule tough teams like 2019 Class AAA finalist Cabell Midland and semifinalist Parkersburg South which is on the schedule this year.
“We want to play a 10-game schedule because that is what my kids expect and that’s what I want to give my kids so we’re going to be looking for a tenth game,” Pedigo said. “Whether that happens or not that remains to be seen but we’re not going to shy away from anybody.”
In a normal season where the Tigers have 11 weeks to play games Pedigo would prefer that the open week for the team be later in the season than the first week.
He has already scheduled a week one game at Lincoln County next year and it will allow the team to use the open week to get healthier for the back end of the schedule.
“I think the ideal spot is being somewhere there in the middle of the season to give your guys an opportunity to rest up and maybe heal some nagging injuries and those are things we haven’t been fortunate to have over the last couple of years because of that open date,” Pedigo said.
Although practices will officially get started on August 17, the Tigers will be stepping onto the field the week before using their flex days. Those practices will reflect the three-week practice period that was just completed in July under Phase III guidelines.
“We’re not going to be in helmets, we’re not going to be in shoulder pads but at least we’ll get out there, we’ll kind of use that as a review period so when we start on the 17th we’re really ready to hit the ground running,” Pedigo said.
Pedigo sees the flex days as a way to not lose a week of practice this year even with the West Virginia Secondary School Athletics Commission shortening preseason to three weeks.
Teams will not be allowed to put on their pads until August 21 with contact allowed four days later but Pedigo sees a possible benefit for teams.
“I think everybody is in the same boat, I really don’t think its going to be something that inhibits us or slow us down,” Pedigo said. “In fact it might make us a little bit faster because those kids won’t have those pads on for a few days.”
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