My most oft-used line is one that came from a high school football coach who said, "The one thing no coach can control is the quality of the opponent.''
In other words, you may run into a team that is so good there's really nothing you can do about it no matter how hard you work or how much prepare. On the other hand, you could find yourself playing a team that is so bad you can't help but win by a lopsided margin even if you pull your starters in the first half.
Which relates to the Dave Poe theory on winning: the easiest way to win any competition is to play somebody worse than you.
Strength of schedule matters. It especially matters in West Virginia high school football, where you literally can schedule yourself into or out of the state playoffs, by either playing too many powerhouses or too many creampuffs.
Parkersburg South, for example, not only must play the other five teams in the Two Rivers Athletic Conference -Morgantown, University, Brooke, Wheeling Park and John Marshall -but it also must participate in the state's biggest annual rivalry game against Parkersburg High. That leaves the Patriots four games with some scheduling flexibility.
This year, those games will be against Ripley, Linsly, Musselman and Friendship Collegiate Academy. Both Linsly and Friendship Collegiate Academy could present major challenges to the Patriots as Linsly is a boarding school and Friendship, located in Washington, D.C., has more Division 1 recruits on its roster than the entire state of West Virginia will produce this fall.
For the record, South's schedule is: Aug. 24: Ripley; Aug. 31: at Linsly; Sept. 7: at Morgantown; Sept. 14: at Musselman; Sept. 21: University; Sept. 28: Friendship Collegiate Academy; Oct. 5: at Parkersburg; Oct. 12: Brooke; Oct. 26: Wheeling Park; Nov. 2: John Marshall. Yes, the Patriots never leave town after Sept. 14.
Parkersburg High has even less flexibility when it comes to scheduling. In addition to playing seven opponents from the Mountain State Athletic Conference, PHS also must schedule Parkersburg South, leaving the Big Reds with just two scheduling decisions to make on an annual basis.
This year, those two games will be against Brooke and Marietta, both on the road.
It's amazing that for two Class AAA high schools located in the same town that South and PHS only have one opponent in common -Brooke.
The Bruins will serve as Parkersburg High's opener, as PHS will travel to Wellsburg on Aug. 24 to renew the 100 Mile War, as the series between the two state powers was years ago dubbed.
Other games on the Big Reds schedule include: Aug. 31: Cabell Midland; Sept. 7: at Marietta; Sept. 14: Huntington; Sept. 21: at St. Albans; Sept. 28: Riverside; Oct. 5: Parkersburg South; Oct. 12: Woodrow Wilson; Oct. 26: South Charleston; Nov. 2: at George Washington.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org