Schedule more daunting for Cougars, Patriots seek stability
Jefferson caught the attention of the area’s football teams. Washington felt the aftershocks of seeing 22 seniors move on after the 2013 season.
After posting a winning season and a 7-3 record last season, Jefferson will need to make as much headway against the local teams this year as it can because its other five dates are against schools with winning traditions for the most part.
There are five local teams. And only Martinsburg has been able to maintain a year-in-year-out excellence that gave the Bulldogs four consecutive state championships and then another playoff berth last year.
Hedgesville, Spring Mills, Washington and Musselman aren’t going to be the road blocks that Handley, Sherando, Fairmont Senior, Millbrook and South Hagerstown will present. It seems winning games begets a more difficult schedule.
The Cougars have record-setting Christian Johnson as their most recognizable player. But even with his 26 touchdown catches in 2014, Johnson is not alone as player with some notoriety. Delonte Berry has already agreed to attend the Naval Academy next year and should provide defensive help when the Cougars see any team from outside the Eastern Panhandle.
Jalon Smith has been a two-way starter as a running back and linebacker and Marcus Burns has done the same double duty in previous seasons.
Kato Oliver and Phillip Keller are two more Cougars with experience and both should be starters along the offensive line.
Jefferson opens the season with five home games in its first six tries.
After the Oct. 9 game in Shenandoah Junction against Spring Mills, the Cougars close with four straight road games at Fairmont Senior, Martinsburg, South Hagerstown and Washington.
Washington won its opener a year ago in Coach Daryl Hayes’ first season, but then lost nine straight times.
Hayes had only five seniors on his 2014 team, so his experience level this time is improved and he returns a number of last season’s starters.
Chase Maccubbin is the incumbent quarterback and Gavin Maccubbin is a valued wide receiver.
Christian Strange is a versatile senior returnee who has changed positions at times and could be seen at tight end and defensive end this time.
Jon McFarlin figures to be a starter against a schedule that finds the Patriots facing considerable odds against Martinsburg, Morgantown, Sherando and Frankfort.
The Patriots do have Hedgesville, Oakdale (Maryland), Spring Mills, Musselman and Jefferson at home. Hampshire will be played in Romney.
The first three games are against Hedgesville, Oakdale and Sherando and all three are at home beginning on Friday, Aug. 28.
One county team has a upgraded schedule and the other hopes to have an upgraded group of linemen, skill-position players and special teams.