High school football season begins this week
Finding adequate replacements for the seniors that helped Jefferson to its 7-3 season a year ago will be a priority when the Cougars play host to a seeking-to-rebound Millbrook team at home on Friday.
Finding a roster with 18 seniors instead of the five he inherited in 2014 will help brighten the outlook for Coach Daryl Hayes when Washington is at home to open its season against Hedgesville, a team that has struggled mightily in recent years.
Both county high school football teams are at home to begin the anticipated 2015 football season.
Jefferson won’t have Andrew King at quarterback or Will Ransom at linebacker. Both of those 2014 seniors were instrumental in the Cougars clawing out seven wins and reaching the Class AAA playoffs for the first time in years.
What Jefferson will have is a solid nucleus of experienced skill-position players and linemen.
Running backs Jalon Smith and Marcus Burns will run behind a front wall of linemen led by Phillip Keller, Kato Oliver and Brandon Herbert.
West Virginia’s all-time, one season, record-setting wide receiver Christian Johnson returns after catching 26 scoring passes last season. Johnson is sure to be a marked man after setting the state standard for touchdown receptions in a season, but has the elusiveness to still get open.
Delonte Berry is a versatile player who can play numerous positions and provide Coach Craig Hunter with a playmaker no matter where he is stationed.
Millbrook was only 3-7 last season and lost its last five games, including a 26-17 decision to the Cougars.
After debuting against the Pioneers, Jefferson will not play in the season’s second week, instead returning against Musselman in the third week.
Over on Patriot Way, Washington will welcome Hedgesville, the lone team it could beat in a 1-9 first-season presided over by Hayes.
Hayes has a core of 18 seniors on his roster and many of them were starters and had to endure last year’s one-win campaign.
Christian Strange, Chase Maccubbin, Jon McFarlin and Joey Fields are some of the senior class that looks to be much sounder and much more competitive here in 2015.
P.J. Bowlin and Gavin Maccubbin are two skill-position players that should help the Patriots score more often than they did last season.
In Hedgesville, the Patriots will see how much difference first-year coach Aaron Fiddler can mean to a program that has seen its rosters dwindle in number — and in wins — for a number of seasons now.
Both county games have 7 p.m. starts. And both have the expectations harbored with new starting lineups, new school years and the breath of the unknown until the first touchdowns are counted.