GAMES TO WATCH
George Washington at South Charleston
When: Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Why it’s important: Both teams missed out on the postseason a year ago, but an opening week win should go a long way for one of these two rivals. South Charleston’s next four games are against perennial Class AAA powers Capital, Spring Valley and Huntington, as well as a tough test against Johnson Central (Ky.), making this is almost a must-win for the Black Eagles.
Who to watch for GW: While prolific quarterback Grant Wells has graduated and moved on to Marshall, the Patriots should still find plenty of success through the air. Wide receiver Alex Mazelon is back after hauling in 58 psses for 860 yards with 10 touchdowns a year ago. R.T. Alexander will take over the reins at QB to start the season.
Who to watch for SC: Junior defensive end Zeiqui Lawton is a household name across the state for what he’s done in his first two seasons. Lawton already has offers from three colleges in Power Five conferences as well as Marshall. Shyleik Kinney was SC’s quarterback a year ago, but appears likely to start this season playing wide receiver and cornerback.
Johnson Central (Ky.) at No. 3 Capital
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Why it’s important: The Cougars built a lot of confidence last season with a 28-21 road win over the Golden Eagles in the season opener. If Capital hopes to match or surpass last year’s 11 wins, a victory here is imperative.
Who to watch for Johnson Central: In a 49-12 season-opening win over Lafayette last Friday, Bryce Tackett rushed for a pair of TDs and Cody Rice accounted for a touchdown on both offense and defense.
Who to watch for Capital: While quarterback Kerry Martin has moved on to play safety at West Virginia University, his younger brother, Kerion Martin, returns. A wide receiver/safety and recent Marshall commit, the younger Martin will factor heavily into Capital’s plans on both sides of the ball. The Cougars will also rely heavily on standout defender Karrington Hill and wideout Chance Knox.
Class AA vs. Class AAA
Winfield at Hurricane
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Why it’s important: Hurricane reached the postseason a year ago, but five regular season losses forced the Redskins into a first-round matchup with Martinsburg. They’ll need to protect their home field in the opener to try and better position themselves for a playoff run this year. A 1-3 start for Winfield was too much to overcome last year en route to a 4-6 season. This is the only Class AAA opponent the Generals face, giving them a chance to make a statement in the opener.
Who to watch for Winfield: Tailback John Covert rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and found the end zone 16 times last season.
Who to watch for Hurricane: Running back Christian Hill has 24 rushing touchdowns the last two seasons. Now a senior, Hill may be utilized even more than in previous seasons.
Other games: Chapmanville at Sissonville; Cabell Midland at St. Albans; Riverside at Woodrow Wilson; Herbert Hoover at Scott; Poca at Nitro; Greenbrier West at Buffalo