BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Call it the Changing of the Guard in Class AA, if you will.
While Wayne has won two straight state championships (including 23 straight wins overall) and Keyser continues to receive plenty of hype heading into 2013, there’s a perennial Class AA power looking to get back on top after being out of the state championship mix the last couple of seasons.
Bluefield won three state championships from 2004 to 2009 (two of those title game wins came over Wayne), appearing in six championship matchups since 2002. But after falling in the 2010 semifinals to Ravenswood, the Beavers completely missed the playoffs in 2011. Last year was a rebound season, of sorts, for Bluefield as an 8-2 regular season led to a quarterfinal playoff run.
“It was nice to get back on the right track as far as getting back into the playoffs,” said veteran Bluefield head coach Fred Simon. “Now we hope to try to up that to the next level.”
And while 2012 shouldn’t be considered a disappointment, there’s no doubt the expectations are greater for the Beavers. A 45-14 late-season loss to Wayne certainly didn’t sit well with Simon.
“We sure hope to (get back on the same level with them),” Simon said. “They’ve definitely done a nice job, and let’s see now if we can’t up it ourselves.”
Reclassification, of course, added in a couple of other power teams to Class AA, including Bridgeport and Robert C. Byrd. The Beavers fell to RCB last year in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs, 34-20.
“Reclassification made things a little more competitive in Class AA,” Simon said. “But I think that’s great – there’s a lot of competition.”
Bluefield this year has gone through the first part of practices with 57 players — numbers right on par with years past. Cody Gore and D.J. Sims will be looked at to anchor the offensive line, while D.J. Edwards returns for year three at quarterback. Senior running back Montell Leggett rushed for over 1,300 yards and 19 touchdowns a season ago.
“We have most of our skill-players back, so our skill positions are where we have most of the experience heading into the year,” Simon said.
As for the ultimate potential of this year’s team?
“I think we have an opportunity to go back to Wheeling,” Simon said. “And we would really love to get back to the state title game – we sure have missed it.”
But first things first, and that’s the annual rivalry game against Graham, Va. to start off the season. The Beavers fell in last year’s season opener to Graham, 23-21.
“That one left a bad taste in our mouths,” Simon said. “It’s a fun game to have right away. It’s kind of neat just to get it started out with something to reward you for a hard offseason and hard month of August. We all really look forward to it.”
2013 Football Schedule
|1||08/30/13 07:30PM||H||GRAHAM,VA H.S.||-|
|4||09/20/13 07:30PM||H||GATE CITY ,VA H.S.||-|
|5||09/27/13 07:30PM||A||GREENBRIER EAST||-|
|6||10/04/13 07:30PM||H||RICHLANDS, VA H.S.||-|
|7||10/11/13 07:30PM||A||RIVER VIEW||-|
|9||10/25/13 07:30PM||A||OAK HILL||-|
|10||11/01/13 07:30PM||H||JAMES MONROE||-|