GAMES TO WATCH

CLASS AAA

No. 8 Morgantown at No. 10 Parkersburg

When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Why it’s important: Both teams were in the Class AAA playoffs a season ago and hope to get back to that point. With this being a matchup of two of the state’s most successful programs on the gridiron, one team will be able to pick up a quality win in its opener.

Who to watch for Morgantown: The Mohigans should benefit from the return of athletic quarterback Cam Rice. Rice has one of his top returning targets back in wideout Preston Fox. Senior Marcellus Marshall (6-6, 310) will anchor the front line.

Who to watch for Parkersburg: Braeden Mason caught 55 passes for 658 yards a season ago, and with several key losses to graduation on offense, he’s likely to assume an even bigger role this year.

CLASS AA VS. CLASS AAA

No. 2 Fairmont Senior at Buckhannon-Upshur

When: Friday at 7 p.m.

Why it’s important: This will be Fairmont Senior’s first game since it notched the school’s first football championship since 1946 last season. The Polar Bears match up with B-U for the first time in three years. The Buccaneers won their final three games in 2018 to finish 5-5.

Who to watch for Fairmont Senior: Two-way standout lineman Zach Frazier (a WVU commit) is back for his final season with the Polar Bears. This will be Frazier’s fourth straight year starting, though he’ll be surrounded by a different cast of characters. The FSHS coaching staff has high hopes for Gage Michael, who is taking over for Connor Neal at quarterback.

Who to watch for Buckhannon-Upshur: Quarterback Ryan Strader isn’t short on experience as this will be his third year starting behind center. Strader combined for 13 passing and rushing touchdowns a year ago.

CLASS AA

No. 6 Keyser at No. 5 Robert C. Byrd

When: Friday at 7 p.m.

Why it’s important: A pair of teams that advanced to the Class AA quarterfinals last season square off in a Top 10 showdown. Robert C. Byrd prevailed on the road a year ago against the Golden Tornado, 20-14.

Who to watch for Keyser: A veteran line will be led by four-year starter Don Woodworth. They’ll be tasked with protecting returning quarterback Ryan Shoemaker and creating running lanes for a backfield that will feature Caden Biser and Aaron Lyons.

Who to watch for Robert C. Byrd: The Eagles must replace several high-level linemen, but quarterback Xavier Lopez is primed for a breakout junior season after starting each of the last two years. Sophomore running back/linebacker Jeremiah King is a focal point of what the Eagles will do on both sides of the ball.

CLASS A

South Harrison at No. 3 Doddridge County

When: Friday at 7 p.m.

Why it’s important: The Bulldogs are coming off perhaps the best season in school history, one in which they finished 12-1 and advanced to the Class A semifinals. They return several standouts and will open the brand new on-campus Cline Stansberry Stadium, part of the school’s $12.8 million athletic facility, against a nearby rival. 

Who to watch for South Harrison: Quarterback Jaren Robinson suffered a broken ankle in his fourth game last season. Robinson is back to lead what the Hawks hope is an improvement from last year’s 1-9 campaign.

Who to watch for Doddridge County: Tailback Hunter America won last season’s Curt Warner Award for the state’s top running back. America rushed for 2,829 yards and 40 touchdowns as a junior and enters this season as a Kennedy Award Candidate.

Other games: Bridgeport at Lewis County; East Fairmont at North Marion; Braxton County at Lincoln; Philip Barbour at Grafton; Liberty Harrison at Elkins; Preston at Hampshire; John Marshall at University; Clay-Battelle at Gilmer County; Mapletown (Pa.) at Trinity; Valley Wetzel at Tygarts Valley