The season kicks off tonight with nine games around the region.
We have rivalries, we have games that were scheduled and some last minute replacement games.
That, as they say, is the new normal.
Some games will be contested Monday of Fayette County (and Kanawha in one instance) can get back to yellow, though it wasn’t looking good at last check.
Here are my picks for Week 1.
Princeton at Bluefield
I think Princeton will be greatly improved this season, possibly enough to to make a push toward the Class AAA playoffs. Grant Cochran has a season under his belt at quarterback and he has weapons in Ethan Parsons and Josiah Honaker along with an improved running game with Amir Powell. But Bluefield is Bluefield and I fully expect them to make a run at the Class AA championship for a fourth straight year, with weapons in quarterback Carson Deeb and receivers Brandon Wiley and Juwan and Jacorian Green. Edge here goes to Buefield, 35-21
Shady Spring at Nicholas County
These schools have played for the last four years, with perennial playoff team Nicholas County winning all four.
The last two have been close wins.
Both teams are coming into a season missing players from last season when both made the Class AA playoffs.
Generally the two have had really good defenses.
Where once power was a key, Shady Spring returns a team predicated on speed with Isaiah Valentine and a defense led by Jaden Hershberger, who is moving from the defensive backfield to more of an outside linebacker.
I think this will be the year Shady Spring gets the job done.
Shady Spring 31- 14
Woodrow Wilson at Greenbrier East
The Spartans are having to replace seven starters. Woodrow is implementing a new offense.
Something to watch is the special teams. Colby Piner is an outstanding return man. Woodrow transfer Jace Colucci had three touchdown returns last year at Westside.
This should be a good one. Greenbrier East 21-20.
Summers County at Greenbrier West
For whatever reason Summers County always plays well at Greenbrier West.
I think that Greenbrier West has a real shot at making the Class A championship game.
The lone team to beat Greenbrier West in 2013 when the Cavaliers last went to the state title game? Summers County.
Summers did not scrimmage last week. You kind of get the feeling something unexpected is coming from the Bobcats.
Still, I like what West has back so, Greenbrier West 41-27.
Liberty at Van
Liberty is a much improved squad this season, with all kinds of talent returning, including Ryan Simms (807 yards rushing and nine TD), receiver/defensive back Braden Howell (10 interceptons, second in the state) and QB Isaac Adkins 400 rush yards, nine TD, 480 passing yards 5 TD. Liberty 28, Van 14
Wyoming East at Pendleton County, 6 p.m.
Last year in going to the playoffs the Warriors struck a balance between pass and runs, and Seth Ross threw for a record 1,518 yards and Caleb Bower rushed for a record 2,034 yards.
This year it will be more of a rush game with Bower and Chase York being joined by new QB Brandon Simpson.
Pendleton County finished last fall No. 3 in Class A and returns quarterback Isaiah Gardiner who threw for 1,356 yards and 15 TD and ran for 855 yards and 17 TD.
Both have holes to fill. I like the Warriors run game. Wyoming East 24-22.
Richwood at Tolsia
I’ve been touting this Richwood team for four years. As freshman these seniors, including Caleb Jantuah, who has never missed a start, went to the playoffs. I think they will go out the same way. Richwood 34-20
Mount View at Westside
Blake Goode returns at running back, opening the door for Jaxon Cogar at quarterback. Yes, he is the brother of Justin Cogar. Justin is an assistant coach at Westside along with their father, Noel.
Mount View has three-year staeter at quarterback, Jesse Rose, back in he fold.
PikeView at Independence
Look for Independence running back Atticus Goodson to have a big opener tonight against PikeView on the Patriots new artificial turf. And a great job by the Raleigh County BOE getting all four of their football fields outfitted with artificial turf.
Independence 42, PikeView 14