The high school football season officially kicks-off Friday. Here is a preview of the area action.
Elkins coach Greg Hott hopes to get the Tigers in the win column early, as the team travels to North Marion for a 7:30 p.m. kick-off.
The Inter-Mountain file photo
Buckhannon-Upshur High School head football coach Duane Stoekle speaks to his team during a recent practice.
"The first game of the season is always important," Hott said. "We want to get off on the right foot. Typically, we play North Marion at the end of the season and open with East Fairmont. So, it's unusual for us to play them opening weekend."
The Tigers went winless last season, but Hott says the boys are ready to put the past behind them. The team made the Class AAA state playoffs in 2011-2012.
"We're focused on this game," Hott said. "We shot ourselves in the foot several times last year. The turnovers really killed us. We can't have that and be successful. If we can control the ball, we will be successful."
The Tigers will once again rely on the single-wing offense. Senior John Huffman will start at fullback and be the player who throws the ball the most. He will be joined in the backfield by senior halfback Morgan Kelly. Juniors Keenen Bowers and Alex Taylor, along with sophomore Jarette Zopp will split time at the wingback position.
Buckhannon-Upshur will face a tough test Friday, as the team travels to Bridgeport to play the reigning Class AA state champions.
"If we can stay focused, work hard, play unselfish and learn to finish, our record will take care of itself," B-U coach Duane Stoeckle said. "The guys are all excited and looking forward to the game. We're hoping to come out of the gate strong. Bridgeport is always fundamentally sound, they block and tackle well. It's going to be a battle."
The Bucs are led by senior quarterback Dillon Gaudet, who will lead the triple-option offense. Last season, he averaged 19 yards per pass and threw eight touchdowns. His top targets will be split end Marcus Lofton and slot receiver Brandon Mallett.
The Philip Barbour Colts open their season at home against Big 10 rival Grafton.
Senior quarterback Tyler Tinchnell returns to lead the Colts' traditional spread offense. He took over the starting nod last season after Dillon Newman was injured in the third game of the season. Tinchnell helped guide the team to the Class AA playoffs.
PB coach Curtis Bodkins will rely on senior Jeremy Tacy and junior Mikey McVicker to carry the load, while Tinchnell's top targets will be receivers Kordell Knittle, Chris Neville and Ethan Bright.
Senior Travis Pomp will anchor an experienced offensive line. He won the lineman challenge hosted at Liberty High School in June.
The East Hardy Cougars are hoping for a return to the Class A playoffs and the road begins in Page County, Va.
Sophomore Corey McDonald will lead the offense from the quarterback position. Senior utility player Tyler Smith earned all-state accolades last season. He can line up at either running back or slot receiver. McDonald also has another weapon with receiver Tyler Murphy.
Lewis County coach Eddie Vincent believes another trip to the Class AAA playoffs is attainable for this year's squad. The Minutemen open the season against Oak Hill.
Offensively, the Minutemen will rely on the Wing-T formation. Senior Brandon White and sophomore Thomas Hogan challenged for the starting quarterback position during the preseason. Junior tailback Damien White will get the majority of totes, while Ryan Carson and Austin Hughes split time at the fullback position.
Moorefield has another outstanding team and coach Josh See hopes the squad can return to the Class A playoffs. The Yellow Jackets open the season on the road at Frankfort.
Senior Dakota Vetter will call the signals at quarterback, while junior running back Wil Schoonover carries the pigskin. Downfield, Vetter will look for junior wide-out Caleb Kite and senior Byron Dolly.
Tygarts Valley will open the season with a new coach pacing the sidelines. The Bulldogs will host Pendleton County Friday.
TVHS coach Chris Dorminey was hired just before practices started in August. He inherited a team that finished last season 1-9. Senior P.J. Lanham will be the workhorse in the backfield, while junior quarterback Hunter Parks leads the offense.
For the Wildcats, junior quarterback Tim Hevener will lead the offense. Brothers Logan and Trey Cooper will split time at running back and try to find the end zone. Seniors Dylan Dunkle and Jesse Lambert will start at the wide receiver positions.
There's going to be a rumble in Parsons Friday when the Tucker County Mountain Lions host Pocahontas County.
The Mountain Lions will look to junior quarterback Daniel Kisamore to lead the offense. TCHS coach A.J. Rapp plans to utilize seniors Michael Calloway and Isaac Cole in a variety of positions including running back and wide receiver.
For the Warriors, senior Jimmy Campbell and junior Dalton Irvien will split time carrying the football. Sophomores Wyatt Workman and Morgan Mason and junior J.D. Hensler are competing for time at the quarterback position. A starter remains unnamed at press time.