With only 10 games on the schedule, getting off to a good start in high school football almost is a must if postseason goals want to be achieved.
This is especially true for Elkins High School this season, as five of the first six games on the card will be played at the friendly confines of Wimer Stadium.
"Our schedule is definitely home-flavored for the first month of the season," Elkins coach Greg Hott said. "But then when you look at the backside of it and who we play, it's very challenging."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Angie Pritt
Tygarts Valley’s Ryan Hoffman carries the ball during a preseason practice. The Bulldogs will open the regular season Aug. 30 at home against Pendleton County.
The Tigers will open the season with home tilts against Oak Hill, Hampshire and rival Buckhannon-Upshur.
But the season will conclude with road trips against Wheeling Park, Lewis County, Bridgeport and Robert C. Byrd - all playoff teams from a year ago.
"We don't have any easy games," Hott said. "There's a lot of playoff teams from last year on our schedule and the other teams will be improved."
Meanwhile, Philip Barbour and coach Curtis Bodkins hope to snap a five-game losing streak to Grafton in their opener.
"Our number one goal right now is to go down to Grafton and take care of business," Bodkins said. "The kids are motivated to do just that."
Bodkins knows a good start for the Colts also is important. Philip Barbour just missed the playoffs last season with a 5-5 mark and lost to the Bearcats on a last-second field goal.
Buckhannon-Upshur and Lewis County also face key opening-night opponents.
The Bucs and new head coach Duane Stoeckle will entertain Bridgeport for a Big 10 Conference matchup, while the Minutemen will welcome University in a playoff rematch from last year.
"I'm sure (University) is going to come in here ready to play us," said Lewis County coach Eddie Vincent, whose team upset the Hawks in last year's first round of the playoffs.
It was the first-ever postseason victory for the Minutemen.
Tygarts Valley and Tucker County, meanwhile, will battle Potomac Valley Conference foes on opening night.
The Bulldogs face Pendleton County and the Mountain Lions travel to Pocahontas County.
The high school season will begin on Aug. 30 for a majority of the state's schools. One game is slated for Aug. 29.