By the end of the weekend, all of West Virginia’s high school football teams will have, at long last, opened their 2020 seasons — just in time for the playoff race in the Mountain State’s three classifications to take shape.
More than a few games this week features clashes between playoff contenders, let’s dive right in:
- Class AAA No. 9 Martinsburg (2-1) at Class AAA No. 6 Spring Mills (2-1): The Bulldogs should be heavy favorites in this one, but it is an opportunity for Spring Mills to show what it can do at home against a state title contender. The Cardinals lone loss came on the road to a very good Class AA Frankfort team, but Martinsburg is on a much different level than the Falcons.
- Morgantown (0-1) at Class AAA No. 8 Wheeling Park (4-1): Park has been playing like one of the best teams in the state in recent weeks, while Morgantown opened its season last week at home with a loss to AAA No. 7 Musselman. The Patriots have weapons at the skill positions that should make this a difficult matchup for the Mohigans.
- Class AAA No. 15 Princeton (2-2) at Class AAA No. 10 John Marshall (4-1): Princeton makes the long trip from the extreme southern part of the state to the Northern Panhandle to take on the Monarchs, but the Tigers are no pushover despite their two losses. Princeton played Class AA No. 1 Bluefield close twice, but lost both. The Tigers also have weapons who get their hands on the ball often, expect them to test the JM defense.
- Class AAA No. 13 Greenbrier East (4-1) at Class AAA No. 11 Oak Hill (1-0): Greenbrier East is off to a good start but has feasted on some not great teams along the way so far. Oak Hill, meanwhile, opened its season last week with a win at home against perennial Class AA playoff participant Mingo Central. East is in the hunt for a third-consecutive playoff bid while the Red Devils are in their first season back in AAA after a four-year hiatus in AA.
- Class AAA No. 2 Spring Valley (2-0) at Fairmont Senior (2-2): The Polar Bears need wins where they can get them after a slow start against a stacked schedule, but that will be a lot to ask with the Timberwolves coming to 12th Street. Spring Valley is loaded and is the team that snapped Martinsburg’s 57-game win streak earlier this season. Fairmont Senior, meanwhile, got back on track with a win at Winfield last week.
- Class AA No. 5 Keyser (4-1) at Point Pleasant (1-2): Keyser stays good, and that’s the case again in 2020 despite longtime coach Sean Biser taking over at Morgantown. The Golden Tornado make the long trip from Mineral County to Point Pleasant’s campus in Mason County along the Ohio River where Point, a perennial playoff contender no matter what classification it finds itself in, could make a big statement with a win Friday. A loss, however, could make it tough to line up another playoff appearance.
- Class AA No. 8 North Marion (3-1) at Class AAA No. 6 Chapmanville (1-0): The Tigers got their season started last week with a win against county-rival Logan, and will get quite the test from the visiting Huskies this week. North Marion receiver Tariq Miller is a legitimate Randy Moss Award candidate and the Huskies have one of their best teams in recent history. A win for North would a momentum boost and perhaps a mental boost — Rachel and Chapmanville aren’t exactly close and in a stacked Class AA field learning to win on the road before the playoffs will help.
- Class A No. 13 Wirt County (3-1) at Class A No. 4 St. Marys (4-1): Two very good Class A team clash in a possible playoff preview, with both coming off rare losses. For Wirt County, the Tigers are looking to bounce back from a lopsided loss to Class A No. 1 Doddridge County. St. Marys, meanwhile, was shut down in a 20-7 loss to rival Williamstown last week.
- Class AA No. 13 Elkins (3-1) at Class A No. 4 Tygarts Valley (5-0): Elkins has been somewhat of a surprise in Class AA so far, with the Tigers being a team without a home stadium while their Wimer Field undergoes work after being deemed unfit to host games. Tygarts’ win last week matched last season’s 5-0 start that ended with a first-round loss at Greenbrier West. A win Friday for the Bulldogs would improve on their 2019 pace and likely provide a decent boost in the playoff ratings with a win against a Class AA opponent.
- Class A No. 7 Williamstown (3-1) at Class A No. 10 Summer County (3-1): Williamstown’s win last week against St. Marys announced to the state that 2020 very well could be a year with another deep run from a very good Yellowjackets’ team. Summers County is back in the playoff hunt after missing out last year following a first-round loss to Williamstown in 2018. Whoever wins this one has a leg up on securing a home game in the state playoffs.