Jed Drenning breathed a sigh of release when the dates for the Class A semifinal football pairings were announced last weekend.
As a sideline reporter for the Mountaineer Sports Network, the former Tucker County standout will be busy today when West Virginia visits Iowa State in Ames for a Big 12 Conference contest.
But come 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Drenning will shed the blue and gold for the black and gold to watch his alma mater face Madonna with a berth in the state championship on the line.
"I thought to myself this would be the game (scheduled) on a Friday night," Drenning said of the Mountain Lions' home contest against the Blue Dons. "In the first two rounds (of the playoffs), Tucker played on Saturday. So it was a relief to see the date hold to form."
It's only fitting that Drenning, who resides in Davis, will be in attendance for Saturday's contest.
No Mountain Lion football team has advanced this far in the postseason since Drenning quarterbacked Tucker County, then in Class AA, to consecutive state championship appearances in 1986 and 1987.
"We lost to Bridgeport on a late field goal in 1986," Drenning said. "Then we ran into a buzzsaw against Winfield the following year. They had a tremendous team and many observers thought that they were not only the best team in Class AA, but the entire state."
Drenning recalled that Tucker County was not able to host a game back then due to the field in Parsons not being an approved facility for the playoffs.
"We were the host team but had to play away from home," he said. "There were times the visiting team had a closer drive then we did."
With R.H. Armstrong Field (Class of 1984 Alumni Stadium) now approved for playoff games, Drenning believes it not only benefits the players, but the entire fan following.
"The community has always been very supportive of the athletic teams at Tucker County, from basketball to football and so on," Drenning said. "They have a great passion for sports and I'm glad the players have a chance to really get the feeling of truly having a home playoff game."
Drenning's knowledge of the game has carried over from his successful playing days.
He won the Kennedy Award, which goes to the state's top football player, along with being named a two-time all-state performer during his tenure at Tucker County.
After starting his college career at Samford, he transferred to WVU, and then finished his career at Glenville State, where he was a record-setting All-American quarterback.
Now he spends time analyzing WVU's upcoming game on the Mountaineer Sports Network pre-game show, along with a weekly appearance on WDTV and running a website, thesignallcaller.com.
But he's been able to remain a faithful follower of Tucker County's undefeated season.
"(Coach) A.J. Rapp has done a tremendous job with this team," he said. "They have remained focused all season, which is hard to do when you've been the top-ranked team in the state for most of the year. You know you're going to get the other team's best shot each week, and this team has responded.
"They have talented players at the skill positions and up front. There's been years Tucker County has had the explosive offense, but this year they have a defense to match it."
The winner of Saturday's game will face either Wahama or Magnolia Dec. 1 in Wheeling for the state title.