"Friday Night Lights" (West Virginia style) gets underway this week with anticipation running high for several of the local high school football programs. Who will open the season 1-0 and which teams will still be looking for that first, elusive victory as the season heads into week two?
There is no sport which carries the passion that surrounds high school football on Friday nights. Pep rallies, tailgaiting, painted bodies-you see it all. Every play keeps the fan on the edge of his seat as there is the possibility of an outstanding play that very well might be the difference in the game.
Every player trots onto his playing surface as the member of an unbeaten squad looking to see his dream of reaching the postseason and bringing home one of those coveted-Class AAA, Class AA, and Class A-trophies that will make him the hometown hero for the remainder of the school year and beyond.
Week one will have some intriguing matchups, but none more so than the one that sees the Rebels from Ritchie County traveling to Pleasants County to take on longtime rival St. Marys.
Second-year head coach Mike Dawson could have run for any political office of his choice in Ritchie County a year ago and been guaranteed victory following the Rebels' 38-22 win over the Blue Devils. The victory propelled the blue and gray to a 4-0 start and an eventual berth in the Class AA playoffs while St. Marys suffered through an 0-3 start, but was able to recover just in time to finish the 2011 campaign with a 5-5 mark.
No, it doesn't compare with the crosstown rivalry we see every year between the Big Reds of Parkersburg and their southside counterparts, the Patriots from Parkersburg South, but few games do. That doesn't mean there won't be a lot of intensity when the two teams meet in their season openers on Friday.
Both Dawson and his counterpart in Pleasants County, Jodi Mote, understand the effect that winning a 'rivalry' game can have on a program. You can be sure that both are reminding their players that they should "treat this as just another game" while remembering what happened following last year's contest.
Richardson is the third player to add his name to the Class of 2013. Two-star running back Jacky Marcellus from Immokalee High School (Immokalee, Fl.) and three-star running back Wendell Smallwood from Elkton Christian Academy (Elkton, Md.) had earlier made the Mountaineers their choice.
With the season opener against instate opponent Marshall University just 10 days away, receiving news like this is icing on the cake for WVU fans. But everyone needs to remember that verbal commitments mean about as much as the paper (there isn't any) they are written upon.