H.S. football notebook: Setting the scene for the 2021 season

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The 2021 West Virginia high school football season begins in eight weeks. Three games will be played on Thursday, August 26 and almost all of the remaining teams will open up the next night. Here’s a breakdown of some of the best matchups through the eleven weeks of the regular season, new coaches, some of the state’s top college recruits and teams to keep an eye on. The 2021 H.S. Football Composite Schedule is listed here.

Top games week-by-week:

Week 1 (August 27)

  • Cabell Midland (5-0) at Spring Valley (4-1) – Two of the MSAC’s premier programs will meet in Huntington. The Knights defeated the Timberwolves twice in 2019 en route to the Super Six.
  • South Charleston (6-0) at Morgantown (3-3) – The Black Eagles head north following an undefeated season. Sean Biser enters his second season leading the Mohigans.
  • Independence (5-3) at Liberty Raleigh (6-1) – Two of the top teams in southern West Virginia clash. Liberty defeated Independence 36-26 last fall.

Week 2 (September 3)

  • Martinsburg (5-1) at Musselman (7-1) – The two top teams from the eastern panhandle meet in Inwood. The Bulldogs outlasted the Applemen 51-33 last fall.
  • Bluefield (7-2) at Princeton (6-3) – The Beavers defeated their Mercer County rivals twice last fall, 15-13 and 54-40. The Tigers earned their first postseason appearance since 2015 last year.
  • Fairmont Senior (10-2) at Linsly (5-3) – The Polar Bears visit the northern panhandle to meet Linsly in a new matchup on the schedule.
Martinsburg’s Braxton Todd rushes for a touchdown. (Photo by Christopher C. Davis/@EP_BigCameraGuy)

Week 3 (September 10)

  • Oak Glen (8-1) at Keyser (7-2) – The Golden Bears are 20-2 over the last two seasons. Keyser is entering their second season under head coach Derek Stephen.
  • Poca (6-1) at Independence (5-3) – In a new matchup on the schedule, the Dots travel to Raleigh County. The game will feature Marshall commit and Poca TE Toby Payne and IHS’ Atticus Goodson, who has been offered by the Thundering Herd.
  • Washington (5-5) at Frankfort (7-1) – The Patriots are coming off their second playoff appearance in 13 seasons. The Falcons look to avenge their only 2020 loss.

Week 4 (September 17)

  • Fairmont Senior (10-2) at Bridgeport (7-1) – The Polar Bears and the Indians have combined for 26 postseason wins in the last five seasons.
  • University (3-4) at Wheeling Park (7-1) – The Hawks are coming off their first playoff appearance since 2017. The Patriots ended 2020 on a seven-game win streak.
  • St. Marys (10-1) at Ritchie County (10-2) – The Little Kanawha Conference rivals each collected ten wins last season.
Bridgeport’s Cam Cole breaks into the clear vs. Fairmont Senior (Photo by Teran Malone)

Week 5 (September 24)

  • South Charleston (6-0) at Spring Valley (4-1) – The game will feature at least five players that hold Division 1 scholarship offers (Corbin Page and Evan Ferguson from Spring Valley, Xavier Bausley, Mondrell Dean and Mari Lawton from South Charleston).
  • Ritchie County (10-2) at Doddridge County (6-2) – Route 50 rivals meet at Cline Stansberry Stadium. The Bulldogs edged the Rebels, 9-8 last fall on a late field goal.
  • Man (4-4) at Wheeling Central Catholic (6-3) – The home-and-home series concludes in the northern panhandle. Central won at Man 19-0 last fall. The Hillbillies played four Class AA opponents and George Washington in 2020.

Week 6 (October 1)

  • Williamstown (5-2) at St. Marys (10-1) – Williamstown was the only team to defeat St. Marys in 2020. The teams have split the last six meetings.
  • Tolsia (4-2) at Tug Valley (3-0) – Both teams qualified for the Class A playoffs in 2020.
  • Sissonville (5-1) at Poca (6-1) – Two of the top teams in the Cardinal Conference meet at O.O. White Stadium.
Williamstown handed St. Marys their only loss in 2020.

Week 7 (October 8)

  • Fairmont Senior (10-2) at Spring Valley (4-1) – The Polar Bears handed the Timberwolves their only 2020 loss.
  • Frankfort (7-1) at Spring Mills (5-2) – The Falcons defeated the Cardinals 21-20 in overtime last fall.
  • Independence (5-3) at Midland Trail (4-2) – The ‘Patriot Bowl’ features teams that both qualified for the postseason.

Week 8 (October 15)

  • Wheeling Park (7-1) at Musselman (7-1) – The Applemen have won the last two meetings in the series by a combined eight points.
  • Robert C. Byrd (8-2) at Fairmont Senior (10-2) – RCB has qualified for the playoffs in nine of the last eleven seasons.
  • Moorefield (4-3) at East Hardy (6-2) – The Cougars have won seven in a row against their Hardy County rivals. Both teams have advanced to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
Fairmont Senior defeated Robert C. Byrd, 28-13 in 2020 (Photo by Teran Malone)

Week 9 (October 22)

  • Bridgeport (7-1) at Princeton (6-3) – The Indians make the 170-mile trip south in a new matchup of Class AAA playoff teams.
  • Herbert Hoover (6-3) at Mingo Central (1-2) – Herbert Hoover head coach Joey Fields returns to Miner Mountain. He led Mingo Central to a 12-win season in 2017.
  • North Marion (6-4) at Oak Glen (8-1) – In a new matchup on the schedule, the Huskies travel north to face the Golden Bears.

Week 10 (October 29)

  • Martinsburg (5-1) at Spring Valley (4-1) – This is the second game in a home-and-home series. The Timberwolves ended Martinsburg’s 57-game win streak last September.
  • Musselman (7-1) at Bridgeport (7-1) – In a new matchup, the Applemen make their second October trip to North Central West Virginia. Musselman will visit Morgantown in Week 5.
  • Midland Trail (4-2) at Greenbrier West (9-1) – Route 60 rivals meet in Hico and what should be a key late-season Class A contest.

Week 11 (November 5)

  • Parkersburg (6-2) at Musselman (7-1) – The Applemen won their final six games of 2020 while the Big Reds won six of their last seven.
  • Hurricane (4-2) at Spring Valley (4-1) – The Redskins have made five consecutive postseason appearances.
  • Frankfort (7-1) at Keyser (7-2) – The ‘Mineral Bowl’ features teams that finished in the top seven in Class AA in 2020.


New leaders in charge

Twenty teams will enter the season with new head coaches. Capital head coach Jon Carpenter resigned in late June and that position will soon be filled.

  • Berkeley Springs – Terry Rea (Steubenville H.S. grad, former Brooke and Weir assistant coach)
  • Bridgeport – Tyler Phares (Promoted after three-year tenure as offensive coordinator)
  • Buckhannon-Upshur – Zach Davis (Former Nitro and Riverside head coach)
New Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Zach Davis (Photo by Marcus Constantino)
  • Capital – TBD
  • Elkins – Jimmy Hankins (Former Lewis County assistant coach)
  • James Monroe – John Mustain (Led JMHS from 2013-2017, playoff appearances in final three seasons)
  • John Marshall – Justin Kropka (Former Harrison Central, Oh. head coach)
  • Logan – Gary Mullins (Returns after leading the Wildcats from 2004-2016)
  • Mingo Central – Chase Moore (Promoted from assistant coach)
  • Nitro – James McKinney (Ten-year assistant coach)
  • Paden City – Robert Price (PCHS athletic director and Burch H.S. graduate)
  • Parkersburg Catholic – Larry Thompson (Former head coach at Mount View & Wyoming East)
  • Philip Barbour – Nick Mayle (Promoted from offensive coordinator)
  • Preston – Mark Deep (Former head coach of Preston Middle School Squires)
  • Scott – Jeremy Dolin (Former Madison Middle School head coach)
  • Sherman – Kevin Buzzard (Seven-year assistant and Sherman H.S. graduate)
  • Sissonville – TBD
  • South Harrison – Brett Hathaway (Promoted from assistant coach, Bridgeport H.S. graduate)
  • Summers County – Josh Evans (Fayetteville H.S. graduate, former Oak Hill & Fayetteville assistant coach)
  • Westside – Tyler Dungion (Promoted from assistant coach)


Class of 2022 

Nearly a dozen rising seniors in the Class of 2022 have received football scholarship offers at the Division I level.

  • Jacob Barrick (Martinsburg TE/LB) – Scholarship offers from Marshall and UAB
  • Xavier Bausley (South Charleston lineman) – Scholarship offer from Morehead State
  • Evan Ferguson (Spring Valley lineman) – Scholarship offer from Gardner-Webb, Preferred walk-on offers from Marshall and West Virginia
  • Atticus Goodson (Independence RB/DB) – Scholarship offer from Marshall
Independence RB Atticus Goodson (Photo by Chuck Roberts)
  • Corbin Page (Spring Valley TE/DL) – Committed to West Virginia
Spring Valley’s Corbin Page (40) gets to his feet after a tackle (Photo by Marcus Constantino)
  • Toby Payne (Poca TE/LB) – Committed to Marshall
Poca TE Toby Payne (Photo by Chuck Roberts)
  • Chandler Schmidt (Cabell Midland DB) – Holds basketball scholarship offer from Navy, also receiving football interest
  • Bryson Singer (Parkersburg QB/DB) – Preferred walk-on offers from Cincinnati, Marshall and West Virginia
Parkersburg quarterback Bryson Singer (7) (Photo by Marcus Constantino)
  • Eric Smith (Fairmont Senior lineman) – Scholarship offers from Air Force, Appalachian State, Army, Central Michigan, Dartmouth, Eastern Kentucky, Kent State, Lehigh, Marshall, Massachusetts, Miami (OH) and Purdue
  • Braxton Todd (Martinsburg RB/LB) – Committed to Bowling Green
  • Max Wentz (Huntington lineman) – Scholarship offer from Dartmouth. Preferred walk-on offer at Marshall

South Charleston’s Mondrell Dean & Mari Lawton (Class of 2023) & Capital’s Jacqai Long (Class of 2024) also hold Division I offers.


Non-playoff teams that could step up in 2021

  • Cameron (4-3 in 2020): The Dragons closed last season with back-to-back road wins at Tyler Consolidated and Clay-Battelle and the bulk of the CHS roster returns.
  • Gilmer County (5-4 in 2020): Quarterback Ean Hamrick, receiver Avery Chapman and a solid senior class are back for the Titans as they seek their first playoff appearance since 2016.
  • Greenbrier East (5-4 in 2020): The Spartans won four of their first five games last fall before going 1-3 in the final month.
  • Huntington (3-6 in 2020): Huntington’s nine-year playoff run ended last fall. Junior quarterback Gavin Lochow, senior receiver Noah Waynick and senior lineman Max Went return for the Highlanders.
  • Liberty Harrison (4-3 in 2020): The Mountaineers have posted six consecutive winning seasons under head coach A.J. Harman.
A.J. Harman has posted a 45-26 record in 7 seasons as Liberty Harrison’s head coach.
  • Man (4-4 in 2020): A scheduling scramble forced the Hillbillies to play five Class AA & Class AAA opponents. Man closed the season with a quality, 19-14 win over Buffalo.
  • Morgantown (3-3 in 2020): Sean Biser enters his second season as the leader of the Mohigans.

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