PARKERSBURG -The 100-Mile War.
That's what those who have followed the football series between Parkersburg and Brooke high schools call the annual battle between the Big Reds and Bruins.
Brooke is one of a select few teams that has dominated its series with Parkersburg, winning 15 of 21 meetings, although PHS opened the 2011 season with a 33-22 win over its toughest rival.
That game, however, took place at Stadium Field. This Friday's contest -set for a 7 p.m. kickoff -not only will take in Wellsburg, but Brooke will be unveiling its new artificial surface.
To make matters even more difficult for Parkersburg, the Big Reds are trying to recover from the loss of team captain Matt Santer, who suffered a possible season-ending separated shoulder in last Friday night's Grid-O-Rama at Laidley Field.
Parkersburg has struggled in its preseason contests, as the Big Reds were unable to stop Gallia Academy's running game and then were throttled by both Mountain State Athletic Conference rivals George Washington and Capital.
Big Red coach Don Reeves drove to Canon McMillon, Pa., to scout the Bruins and came away impressed.
"They are a typical Brooke football team,'' said the third-year head coach. "They are not real big, but they are tough.''
Running the Bruin offense -and running it quite well -is senior quarterback Alec Buchmelter.
"He is a three-year starter,'' said Reeves. "He both runs and throws the ball well.''
Brooke has a new coaching staff as Tom Bruney left following last year and was replaced by Sean Blumette, who was the linebacker coach at Waynesburg (Pa.). He is running a 4-3 defense designed to stop the run.
Still, PHS hopes to run the ball as the Big Reds possess a strong running back tandem in senior Adam Lindamood and junior Chandler Hamilton. Lindamood is a power runner who is difficult to bring down. Hamilton is a sprinter who can be dangerous if he gets the ball in the open field.
Running the Big Red offense will be junior Aaron Roberts, who will make his varsity debut after injuring his ACL in the second JV game of the 2011 season. Roberts has shown some flashes of brilliance in early scrimmages, but also at times has shown he is still a rookie.
Parkersburg is opening the season with two of its toughest foes as the Big Reds will make their home debut next Friday night against a Cabell Midland team many are saying can contend for the state title.
"We have to keep working hard,'' said Reeves. "We are going to have to control the ball.''
Reeves was impressed with the way Lindamood ran the ball in scrimmages and also said Chandler was able to hit the hole fast.
He's hoping the inexperienced PHS line -led by returning starter D.J. Carozza -will provide enough holes for the backs to do their thing.