By Cam Huffman
It’s rivalry week on high school football fields around the area as five old rivalries will be renewed tonight when the lights come on and the bands march into the stadium.
After a full slate of games to open the season last Friday, the heat turns up tonight as area teams try to set the tone for a new year.
Greenbrier East at
The Spartans are looking to break a two-game losing streak to the Flying Eagles and win for just the third time in the last 15 years in the rivalry when the teams meet tonight in Beckley. The Flying Eagles, meanwhile, would like to continue their recent dominance, which included a 42-34 win last year in Fairlea.
East is coming off a positive start to the 2013 season, a 47-22 win over James Monroe in the opening game of year No. 2 of the Ray Lee era. The Spartans racked up 559 yards of offense in that victory, as Dalton Cline rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Isaiah Kinder threw for 226 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Woodrow didn’t fare as well in its opener against Winfield, falling 42-19. Quarterback Brent Osborne threw for 200 yards in his first start, and Donte Nabors returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown in that game, but the Flying Eagles gave up more than 400 yards of offense.
Westside at Wyoming East
The battle for Wyoming County bragging rights will take place between a pair of 1-0 teams.
Westside started the season with an impressive 44-16 win over Liberty in Larry Cook’s debut as head coach. Mike Mullens had a huge game for the Renegades, rushing for 290 yards and six touchdowns.
Wyoming East picked up a hard-fought road win, edging Mingo Central 27-26. Quarterback Aaron Griffith rushed for 83 yards and threw for 120.
Westside won last year’s game 22-20, holding off a late Warrior rally after leading 22-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
Bluefield at Princeton
The Mercer County rivals aren’t in the same class — Bluefield competes in Class AA while Princeton is a Class AAA school — but they’ve had some great games over the years, including a 52-44 Bluefield win in a shootout last season.
Bluefield is coming off a 9-3 season in 2012 and a win over another rival, Graham, Va., last week. Running back D.J. Edwards rushed for 99 yards and had 114 receiving yards in the victory.
Princeton had a rough year in 2012, winning only two games under first-year head coach Randy Peek, but it started this season off with a lopsided 69-0 win over AAA foe Shady Spring. Running back Tahj Sho-Johnson rushed for 147 yards on just six carries. Now the Tigers have a chance to really prove that this year’s team is different.
Greenbrier West at Richwood
Just 30 miles stand between the two Class A schools — both of which opened the 2013 season with big wins last Friday.
The Cavaliers got the job done with defense, pitching a shutout against a Class AA playoff team from a year ago, Nicholas County. West, which was a major player in Class A last season, got just enough offense from quarterback Malik Boatwright and running back Cory Cox to hold on for a 6-0 win.
Richwood won its opener against one of its other rivals, Webster County, a solid road win. The Lumberjacks found three consecutive scores, including a 99-yard Colin Frame fumble recovery, to win 32-28.
The Cavs won last year’s game 49-7, but Richwood is confident it has a team that can close that gap this time around.
Fayetteville at Midland Trail
Coming off a winless 2012 campaign, Fayetteville didn’t have the easiest of openers, taking on defending Class A champion Wahama to begin the 2013 season.
The Pirates lost 60-26, but there were a few bright spots and they’re hopeful that will show this week against their Fayette County rival.
Midland Trail had a 21-7 halftime lead last week against Class AA Independence — thanks, in large part, to the efforts of Ryan Wilson, who rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone — but it gave up 21 unanswered puts in the second half to lose 28-21 in the Patriot Bowl. Trail will be looking to play four quarters this time around to get its first win of 2013.
OTHER AREA GAMES
Oak Hill at Musselman
Kennedy Award candidate Jalen Jones started off the season in fine fashion, rushing for 186 yards on just 13 carries in an impressive 48-14 win over Elkins, avenging a loss from 2012.
The Red Devils, who lost to Cabell Midland in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs last year, will be looking to send another statement against the Applemen. Musselman has been a consistent Class AAA power over the years, but new head coach Brian Thomas lost his season opener to Sherando, Va.
The Chris Vicars era at Independence started with a big victory, the Patriots’ come-from-behind win over Midland Trail. Now, Vicars will be looking for his first win over a Class AA foe. He’ll rely heavily on running back Colton Ward, who rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in the Patriot Bowl.
PikeView took a talented Summers County team to the wire in its opener, before falling 18-12. Quarterback Chris McBride threw for 157 yards in the victory.
Liberty at Sissonville
The Raiders had a tough start to the year, losing 44-16 at Westside. Hunter Wright was one of the few bright spots, throwing for 137 yards and a touchdown. Colten Taylor caught three passes for 71 yards.
Sissonville will be a difficult challenge for Liberty. The Indians downed Chapmanville 40-22 in the opener behind Jared Wilkinson, who rushed for 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Logan opened the season by thrashing Man on the road 40-20. The Wildcats were led by junior quarterback Ryan Miller, who threw for 219 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his first start. Worm Street rushed for 141 yards, and Josh Rein caught five passes for 145 yards.
Shady, meanwhile, had a miserable performance in its opener against Princeton. The Tigers were shut out 69-0. Jonathan Hardy did have a solid game on the ground, rushing for 76 yards on 22 carries. Tim Culicerto threw for 134 yards in his first start at quarterback.
Logan defeated Shady Spring 33-7 last season.
With most of its 2012 team, which won a playoff game for the first time in school history, back this season, Nicholas County has lofty expectations for 2013. The Grizzlies, though, didn’t find much offense in the opener, losing 6-0 to Class A power Greenbrier West.
Veteran quarterback Tyler Sagraves threw for 146 yards, though, and seemed to find his stride as the game progressed.
Nicholas County will look to get back on track against a Class AA Poca team that opened the season with a 41-22 loss to Nitro. Justin Stewart, the quarterback, led the Dots with 205 yards on 20 carries in that loss.
at James Monroe
Nate Tanner picked up a victory in his first game as head coach as the Bobcats knocked off PikeView 18-12 in the opener. Isaiah Brown rushed for 145 yards on 16 carries in the win. Quarterback T.J. Smith scored both a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown.
A Class AA playoff team last year, Summers County will look to get off to a 2-0 start against a James Monroe squad that fell to Class AAA Greenbrier East in its opener. The Mavericks, once a Class AA power, have fallen on some hard times recently, but they’re hoping for a revival under first-year head coach John Mustain.
at Tug Valley
Jake Parker made headlines around the state, and across the nation, with his performance in Meadow Bridge’s season opener. The senior finished off a 56-20 Wildcat win over Van with 447 rushing yards and six touchdowns. For good measure, he also had 12 tackles on defense on his way to earning Register-Herald Player of the Week honors.
Tug Valley should provide a little more resistance. The Panthers opened up the season last week with a 20-6 win over Sherman. Tug Valley held The Tide to just 110 yards of total offense.
— E-mail: chuffman
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.