When it comes to high school football in Wood County, I'm always optimistic.
Because we have four programs with proven track records, and each has a solid coaching staff.
That's why I believe -for the second straight year -all four Wood County teams will qualify for the state playoffs this fall.
Start with Williamstown. The Yellowjackets not only have made a habit of making the playoffs on an annual basis, but they also are a perennial contender for the Class A state championship.
There's no reason to think that won't be the case again this season. Williamstown continues to be far and above all the other Class A programs in the Little Kanawha Conference.
But even winning the LKC's small school championship doesn't ensure statewide success.
Williamstown's toughest regular season games likely will come against Magnolia - now in Class A?- and Ravenswood.
Speaking of Class A, Parkersburg Catholic and Williamstown won't meet the last game of the season, as has been their tradition. Rather, they will meet on Oct. 19, two weeks before the season ends.
Catholic went 6-4 last year in Jeff Campbell's first season as head coach and plays the same 10 teams again this season.
The Crusaders appear to be capable of avenging their other three losses -to Buffalo, Pocahontas County and Wirt County - but they must guard against losing to a St. Marys team they beat last year, 20-14.
Parkersburg South looks like a playoff lock in Class AAA.
The Patriots have a strong senior class about who South fans have been talking up since they were freshmen.
Last year, South advanced to the quarterfinals. This year, they are a top 10 team with a strong possibility of cracking the top five.
But the schedule is rugged, including road trips to Musselman and Morgantown and a home meeting against nationally-regarded Friendship Christian Academy, a Washington, D.C. team with several highly-regarded college prospects.
Throw in games against the likes of Brooke, Wheeling Park and the crosstown rivalry with Parkersburg High and South can't afford too many stumbles.
Speaking of Parkersburg High, the Big Reds went 7-4 last year, losing in the opening round of the playoffs.
Of their three non-conference games, two are against rugged foes -South and the season opener with Brooke - the latter on the road.
Plus, PHS plays MSAC foes George Washington, Cabell Midland and Huntington, all of whom are being touted as potential top five squads, along with South Charleston and Woodrow Wilson, teams you can't take for granted. PHS needs running back Adam Lindamood to be healthy and its defense to improve. If those happen, so will a postseason berth.
Will all four Wood County teams make the playoffs?
The call here is yes, they'll be playing the second week of November.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org