— By Shawn Rine
GAMES TO WATCH
Brooke (0-0) at No. 7 Wheeling Park (0-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last season: Brooke suffered through an 0-10 campaign. To say that is rare in those parts would be an understatement. Wheeling Park finished 7-4, including a first-round playoff loss to Parkersburg.
Why it’s important: Simply put, it’s Bruins-Patriots. The two programs always have this game circled, but there are heightened expectations when it’s the opener. Brooke needs to get confidence after struggling so badly last season, while Park looks to start building toward a ninth straight playoff appearance, which would extend a school record.
Who to watch for Brooke: The most experienced player on the roster is soon-to-be four-year letterman and running back Max Camilletti. He’ll be charged with churning out some tough yardage as the Bruins break in a new quarterback.
Who to watch for Wheeling Park: Senior quarterback Alex Dunlevy had the unenviable task last season of replacing Cross Wilkinson. All Dunlevy did was come out and throw for 1,684 yards (153.1 per game) to go along with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
John Marshall (0-0) at University (0-0)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last season: John Marshall started 4-1 before finishing 6-4 during the regular season to earn a playoff berth, where it was beaten on the road in the first round by Musselman. Things didn’t fare as well as they usually do for University, which finished 5-5.
Why it’s important: The Monarchs have used this game a spring board to back-to-back playoff seasons, and want to get off on the right foot. For the Hawks, this is a chance to get a measure of revenge while also setting the stage for perhaps its own postseason run.
Who to watch for John Marshall: Two-way lineman Bradlee Clark. He was an animal on the defensive line last season and will probably split time between center and guard on offense.
Who to watch for University: Graduation hit the Hawks hard, especially at the skill positions. There was a four-way QB battle late into camp, meaning University will likely rely heavily upon the hard running of running back Logan Raber.
No. 9 Weir (0-0) at Oak Glen (0-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last season: It was another banner year for Weir, which ended up 10-3 and advanced to the state semifinals before falling in convincing fashion at eventual state champion Fairmont Senior. Oak Glen got back into the mix before winding up at .500 with a 5-5 record.
Why it’s important: Any time these Hancock County rivalries meet in anything, it’s a big deal. This mutual season opener is no different. The Red Riders look poised for another deep run, while the Golden Bears are looking for respect as they try to climb back up the hill.
Who to watch for Weir: What can you say about Sebastian Spencer? He has a handful of Division-I offers heading into his senior season. He will play QB, RB, WR and just about everywhere else this season.
Who to watch for Oak Glen: Folks in the Northern Panhandle know about junior QB Nick Chaney, but the entire state might well soon recognize the name. Last season he completed 116 of 257 for 1,762 yards and 23 touchdowns.
No. 2 Williamstown (0-0) at No. 1 Wheeling Central (0-0)
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Last season: The Yellowjackets finished off an 11-3 campaign with an appearance in the state title game. Unfortunately for them, they bookended their season with losses to Wheeling Central. The Maroon Knights went 13-1 and captured their 10th state title under Coach Mike Young.
Why it’s important: This will be the third meeting in 12 months between the schools, who are annual playoff participants. It’s a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in Week 1, and will go a long way toward postseason seeding.
Who to watch for Williamstown: Eric Brown is a two-way force at both receiver and linebacker for the Yellowjackets. He’s their main pass-catching option and earned first-team all-state honors for his play on the defensive side of the ball.
Who to watch for Wheeling Central: The Maroon Knights have a ton of stars, but it all starts with quarterback Curtis McGhee III, who is looking to close his career with a third straight title. The owner of more than 3,000 total yards last season, he is committed to Brown University of the Ivy League.
Other games: Paden City at Frontier (Ohio); Federal Hocking (Ohio) at Hundred; Tyler Consolidated at Ritchie County; Valley Wetzel at Tygarts Valley; Madonna at Bridgeport (Ohio)