6:00: Morning News

Football Notebook: Setting the stage for the 2020 season

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The 2020 West Virginia high school football season is scheduled to begin the week of August 24th. Here’s a look at some of the football offseason storylines throughout the winter and spring.

New classifications

Seven schools will be entering new classes this fall. All seven previously competed at the Class AA level.

Moving up to Class AAA

  • Bridgeport (13-1) – The Indians’ return to Class AAA leaves Class AA without a ‘defending champion’. Bridgeport most recently competed in the top classification from 2004-2011. BHS qualified for the playoffs in each season with a 8-8 postseason record. The Indians reached the semifinals in 2009 and 2011.
  • Lincoln County (1-9) – The Panthers were formed as a Class AAA School in 2006 and will now return to that classification. Lincoln County’s best season in school history came in 2018, when the Panthers went 8-2.
  • Oak Hill (3-7) – The Red Devils return to Class AAA after a brief stint in Class AA. Students from Fayetteville and Valley Fayette now attend Oak Hill. Both of those schools were closed after the 2018-2019 academic year. Former Fayetteville head coach Dave Moneypenny is the new head coach at Oak Hill. He led FHS to the Class A semifinals in 2016.
Bridgeport’s head coach John Cole looks on in the AA State Championship.

Moving down to Class A

  • James Monroe (6-4) – The Mavericks are coming off back-to-back six-win seasons and they haven’t had a losing season since 2014. JMHS advanced to the Class AA semifinals in 2016, falling to eventual champion Mingo Central.
  • Man (8-3) – The Hillbillies are coming off their best season since 2015, advancing to the playoffs before falling to Class AA runner-up Bluefield. Veteran head coach Harvey Arms is entering his 19th season leading MHS.
  • Petersburg (4-6) – The Vikings earned their second playoff appearance in 2018, when they finished 7-4.
  • River View (3-7) – The Raiders are coming off back-to-back three-win seasons. They qualified for the Class AA playoffs from 2010-2012.

32 schools are in Class AA, 37 remain in Class AA and Class A is the largest division with 44 schools.

Man’s Josh Moody (28) runs into the end zone for a touchdown.

New coaches

17 teams will enter the 2020 season with new head coaches. Trinity’s head coaching position is still open after Marcus Law stepped down in the Warriors’ first season since the program’s revival.

  • Chapmanville (5-5) – James Barker
  • Hedgesville (0-10) – Matt Faircolth
  • Herbert Hoover (4-6) – Joey Fields
  • Keyser (10-2) – Derek Stephen
  • Lincoln County (1-9) – Brad Likens
  • Madonna (6-4-1) – Dan Rovira
  • Martinsburg (14-0) – Britt Sherman
  • Morgantown (3-7) – Sean Biser
  • Oak Hill (3-7) – David Moneypenny
  • Parkersburg Catholic (6-4) – Clint Fought
  • Petersburg (4-6) – Donny Evans
  • Ripley (4-6) – Steve Sayre
  • Spring Mills (7-5) – Josh Sims
  • Weir (6-4) – Frank Sisinni
  • Williamstown (10-3) – Chris Beck
  • Wyoming East (8-3) – Jimmy Adkins
Joey Fields was named the new head coach at Herbert Hoover earlier in March.

Top-tier recruits in Class of 2021

A handful of state natives are garnering Division I interest as the 2020 season approaches.

  • Wyatt Milum (Spring Valley lineman) – One of the most heavily recruited players in recent history from West Virginia, Milum verbally committed to West Virginia in March. His top six schools included Alabama, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Penn State and Virginia Tech. LSU also offered.
  • Zeiqui Lawton (South Charleston DE-LB) – Lawton is a four-star recruit who recently released his top five. Boise State, Cincinnati, Illinois, Oregon and West Virginia made the cut. Lawton also received almost twenty Division I offers.
  • Isaiah Johnson (Bluefield DB) – Despite missing nearly all of his junior season with a foot/ankle injury, Johnson has been offered by two dozen Power 5 programs, including Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. Johnson is listed as a five-star selection by most major recruiting services.
  • Bryce Biggs (Spring Valley lineman) – Biggs has been gaining Division I offers this offseason. Akon, Arkansas State, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Marshall and Western Kentucky have offered.
  • John McConnell (Morgantown K/P) – McConnell recently collected his first Division I scholarship offer from Marshall. He is listed as the No. 5 punter recruit in the nation.
  • Blake Hartman (Musselman RB) & Naieem Kearney (Martinsburg RB) – The eastern panhandle rivals are collecting numerous Ivy League offers. Hartman also picked up an FBS offer from Navy two weeks ago.
Bluefield’s Isaiah Johnson (3) sacks Graham quarterback Devin Lester.

Best Non-Friday games

If you are looking for games to check out that aren’t scheduled in the traditional Friday night slot, there are several quality contests to check out.

  • North Marion at East Fairmont (Week 1-Thursday, August 27): Marion County rivals clash in their traditional opener at East-West Stadium. The Huskies qualified for the Class AA playoffs last fall and finished at 7-4. The Bees posted a 4-win improvement (4-6) in Shane Eakle’s first season.
  • Fort Frye, Oh. at Wheeling Central Catholic (Week 6-Saturday, October 3): The defending Class A state champs will host a Fort Frye squad that went 11-1 in 2019, advancing to the second round of the Ohio playoffs.
  • Martinsburg at Cabell Midland (Week 10-Saturday, October 31): A rematch of the Class AAA state championship game, won by Martinsburg, 49-21.
Cabell Midland’s Jakob Caudill (45) rushes the ball against Martinsburg in the AAA State Championship.

River View & Montcalm open the season

For the second consecutive season, River View and Montcalm will kick off the 2020 high school football season in West Virginia. The game is set for Monday, August 24 at Montcalm. River View has two games scheduled in the ‘Week 1’ slot. The Raiders will also host Mount View on Friday, August 28. River View defeated Montcalm 36-6 in last year’s opener.

Out with the old…

Several high school stadiums are currently under construction or have already installed new artificial turf. New surfaces are being laid down at George Washington, Hampshire, Independence, Logan, Martinsburg, Morgantown, Nitro, South Charleston, St. Albans and Beckley Woodrow Wilson.

Mount View High School in McDowell County will open their new on-campus stadium on September 11 vs. Tazewell, Va. The Golden Knights had previously played all of their games in downtown Welch.

Construction continues on Mount View’s new on-campus stadium.

Notable streaks

Several of the state’s top programs will look to extend postseason streaks this fall.

  • Martinsburg is the Class AAA leader in consecutive playoff appearances. The Bulldogs have qualified for the postseason 22 years running, dating all the way back to 1998.
  • Bridgeport has advanced to the playoffs every year since 1993, a streak that covers 27 seasons. Their last losing season came in 1967.
  • Williamstown owns the longest playoff streak in Class A. The Yellowjackets have earned 20 consecutive postseason appearances.
Williamstown’s Brayden Modesitt returns for his senior season.

New opponents highlight Mingo Central’s schedule

After being voted out of the Cardinal Conference, Mingo Central quickly assembled a quality schedule as the Miners enter their tenth season.

Mingo will face Kentucky 3A state champion Belfry in the season opener. The Miners have also added five new opponents, all of which qualified for the playoffs last season: Wyoming East, Man, Greenbrier East, Shady Spring and Bluefield. Former conference rivals Logan, Poca, Herbert Hoover and Chapmanville remain on their schedule.

Daylin Goad returns at quarterback for Mingo Central.

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