The Friday night lights will burn a little hotter this evening with some intense rivalry games dotting the high school landscape.
Woodrow Wilson (0-1) entertains longtime rival Greenbrier East (1-0), while Wyoming East opens its regular season hosting Westside (0-1) and Shady Spring (1-0) clashes with Nicholas County (1-0). Add in a new twist on the Battle for the Bridge with Midland Trail (1-0) hosting Oak Hill (0-1), and week two could be one of the most memorable weeks of the high school football season.
"There is no love lost there," Woodrow Wilson head coach Street Sarrett said about the clash with East. "Alabama-Auburn, Notre Dame-USC, however you want to look at it. No matter what sport we are playing, it is going to be a knockdown, drag-out fight."
After Woodrow Wilson opened the season with a disappointing home loss to Riverside, Sarrett is looking for an inspired effort from his players tonight.
"We need to get to the ball better, play defense and tackle better," Sarrett said. "We just didn't tackle. We made some adjustments, the kids have to make the adjustments and we have to find the kids willing to make the adjustments."
The Spartans opened the season with a 26-14 win over James Monroe, outscoring the Mavericks 12-0 in the second half. Marion Lawson rushed for 128 yards on 21 carries to lead East.
The Flying Eagles will bring a strong offensive line into the contest to battle an East defense that allowed 265 yards on the ground to James Monroe.
Woodrow Wilson owns a two-game win streak over East, which includes a 34-2 win last year in Fairlea. It will also be Hall of Fame night for Beckley, who will induct Jacob Vanmeter and Chase Hancock into the exclusive group.
"It just depends on who shows up," Sarrett said. "We have had teams that show up the past two years, but if we don't show up (tonight), then Greenbrier East will be headed back to Fairlea pretty happy."
When it comes to rivalries there is clearly none better than the East-West battles in Wyoming County. While being most widely noted for the their numerous clashes on the hardwood, the Battle for the Golden Shovel on the gridiron is just as fierce.
Tonight's battle is back in New Richmond where the last time the two rivals met, it was a game for the ages. In a wild exchange of possessions late, East pulled out a miraculous win when quarterback Seth Ross found Jacob Bishop for a score with .3 seconds left on the clock in a 12-10 win.
The Warriors took care of business easily down in Clear Fork last year, 42-6, where Caleb Bower scored two touchdowns. The last Renegades win was in 2016, a 58-8 triumph.
Wyoming East will also be celebrating the 20-year anniversary of its 1999 undefeated championship team tonight. Add in the exchanges that have been running across the social media platforms this week and the atmosphere should be electric in the War Zone.
Midland Trail opened some eyes with a big opening night win against Class AA Independence. Tonight the Patriots welcome another Class AA school in Oak Hill. With the influx of students from Fayetteville, due to consolidation, this game is being billed as a continuation of the yearly Battle for the Bridge that was played between the Pirates and the Patriots.
"You will never replace the Fayetteville rivalry, but in saying that, Oak Hill has done a real good job of getting our attention. Our kids will ready to go," Midland Trail head coach Frank Isaacs said.
The boys from Hico pulled off the Fayette County sweep last season which included wins over Fayetteville and Oak Hill along the way. The battle with the Red Devils at John P. Duda stadium came down to the final play of the game. Trail forced five turnovers on the night and held on for a 26-20 win.
This year the cast of characters will be a little different, however, the game will still be an intense battle.
"They are big and there skill guys are super fast," Isaacs said. "They are young in the backfield at quarterback, but sometimes that is not a bad thing. They also do a great job of putting their players in the open field where they can be successful."
Trail will look to control the ball on the ground tonight led by week one's Register-Herald Player of the Week, Colton Yoder. Yoder piled up 226 yards and scored four times last week.
Shady Spring and Nicholas County may not have the longstanding rivalry as the teams mentioned previous, but, the two Class AA powers have waged some classic battles the last two years. With both teams eying playoff runs again this season, tonight's showdown at H.B. Thomas Field could be an another classic.
Two years ago at home, Shady was its own worst enemy with turnovers in a 32-22 loss. Last year at Memorial Stadium, the Tigers had the early lead only to see the Grizzlies come back in the final quarter for a 26-24 win.
Nicholas County returns a veteran team led by quarterback Timmy Baker who ran and passed for over 230 yards and three scores in a 41-7 win over Oak Hill in week one.
The Grizzlies also had 100-yard performances from Justin Hill and Zach O'Dell, but that is just part of the Nicholas story. On defense, Nicholas County held Oak Hill to just 109 yards on 37 plays.
Shady Spring has extremely good skill players, however, the Tigers are somewhat inexperienced along the front line. The front five will be facing an experienced Grizzlies defense that likes to apply pressure from all angles.
The Tigers are coming off a 31-0 win over Lincoln County where the defense had six interception led by Jadon Hershberger who had three and Isaiah Valentine who had one that he turned into a 47-yard score.
It is early in the season, but just like last year, this game will liklely have big-time playoff importance come November.
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Elsewhere around the area, Gilmer County (1-0) goes to Richwood (0-1). Greenbrier West (1-0) heads to Hinton to battle Summers County (1-0) and Independence (0-1) looks to bounce back at PikeView (0-1).
Meadow Bridge and Liberty look to go 2-0 on the young season when the Wildcats host Clay-Battelle (0-1) and Raiders welcome Van (0-1).
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