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Cougars try again for a 10-game football season

By Bob Madison - For the Chronicle | Aug 27, 2021

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Hurricane and Parkersburg aren’t on Jefferson’s football schedule this year. Neither is University. And neither is every team’s arch enemy — the COVID-19 Pandemic.

As it juggled its schedule through all of the 2020 season, Jefferson was having games cancelled and others being added along the way as it struggled to play 10 games.

As November finally came along, the Cougars and many other West Virginia high schools couldn’t find enough opponents or enough playing dates to get in 10 games.

Jefferson would miss a winning season for the fifth consecutive season. And it would miss the big-school playoffs for the fifth straight year.

Ten games — all against more natural opponents — are carded for 2021. Any prognosticator able to see into the future and say how many games will actually be played is a world-class seer again this season.

There are five home games on paper — the season opener tonight versus Millbrook of Winchester, Spring Mills, South Hagerstown, James Wood and Hedgesville. And there are five games on the road — Sherando, Musselman, North Hagerstown, Martinsburg and Washington.

Navigating through the minefield that is the virus will have to take into account the various rules and government-voiced changes in the states of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia and the counties of Frederick (Va.), Washington (Md.), Berkeley and Jefferson.

What will happen is any school administrator’s or sideline coach’s guess.

If there are games one right after another, then Jefferson will face them with returning receiver Spencer Powell and fellow seniors Bryson Fleming (running back-safety), tight end Caysen Lanza, running back-linebacker Joey Slaughter and running back-cornerback Christian Blowe.

Juniors Isaiah Fritts (wide receiver) and Jah’lonnie Hollis (defensive end) have shown enough to be fixtures.

While Martinsburg, Musselman, Sherando and Millbrook have been winning games and often extending their seasons into the postseason, Jefferson has struggled through the last four seasons, never winning more than three games a year since five years ago.

Martinsburg could play only five games in 2020, but one of them was a loss to Spring Valley, ending a long winning streak and keeping the Bulldogs from celebrating another state championship. Musselman also lost only once, but couldn’t leap over the virus nimbly enough to keep from being shutdown in the playoffs by COVID-19. Sherando is another high-percentage winner and Spring Mills entered the West Virginia playoffs in 2020.

Does the football future hold any paths that can actually be planned for or seen in advance? Will other states or other counties hold the clues as to how their virus-related rules and procedures will effect Jefferson’s season?

It now seems that the first game against Millbrook will be played. But then what?