GLENVILLE - Darold Hughes, the senior quarterback for Glenville State College, knows the Pioneers have a chance for a special season this year.
The G-men will get their first shot at posting one in the win column come 7 p.m. Thursday when the squad from Gilmer County takes on host Carson-Newman inside Burke-Tarr Stadium.
"We have extreme expectations," said Hughes, who had 12 touchdown passes and 2,002 yards through the air as a junior. "We are setting out to win the conference. We're not looking for anything less than that.
Photo by Jay W. Bennett
Glenville State College senior starting quarterback Darold Hughes and the Pioneers open the season at 7 p.m. Thursday at Carson-Newman.
"We're looking on offense to finish once we get in the red zone. We're looking to score touchdowns instead of kicking field goals. We'll take it one game at a time and let it sort itself out."
Hughes, who should have his degree in sports management by the end of the year, said he hopes to get into coaching after his playing days are over. Before that, though, he plans to have a championship ring and a postseason playoff berth.
"It's about where you are at the end of the year and that's what matters," Hughes said of GSC's sixth place preseason ranking in the West Virginia Conference poll.
Last year, the Pioneers led 10-0 against Carson-Newman before falling 45-20.
"I think we got off to a slow start and we played some really good stiff competition at the beginning of the year," Hughes said of the tough non-conference slate. "Then we seemed to hit a groove with our first four conference games.
"Then, I guess, instead of taking it one game at a time after that we seemed like we were looking down the road and it bit us in the butt."
If lessons are learned from a year ago that should bode well for Hughes and company. However, Thursday night should prove to be somewhat interesting considering Hughes isn't going to have anyone exactly familiar to throw to.
"We lost our top six wide receivers, but we had a few guys who redshirted last year and they went through spring and did a pretty good job," he said.
"Just by the little bit I've seen so far it looks like we've brought in a pretty talented group and we just got to get the timing down."
Another reason why Hughes is extremely optimistic about what could be a special season is because "I don't think we have any selfish guys who think we are running the ball too much or passing the ball too much.
"You want to win. It doesn't matter how you do it. You just want to get the job done."
Hughes said he didn't really have any specific worries going into the season and that "the way we see it, we control our destiny. We control where we end up at the end of the season so we can't be worried.
"We just have to go out there and take every day of practice like it's your last because you never know when your last day will be. Us becoming closer, being a family and being on the same page, that's the key to winning a championship."
Whether or not that comes to fruition at the end of the season remains to be seen, but Hughes has definitely enjoyed the experience of being a Pioneer.
"It's actually been a great, great time," he said. "When I first got here I was thinking what did I get myself into, but the people are amazing and they are the nicest people you'll ever meet. They are always speaking and saying hi and they make you feel like you are part of Glenville and that's an awesome thing.
"It (winning the WVIAC) would mean the world to me. By this being my last year and everything, of course you want to go out on top so it would be great for our team, but I feel like it would be even better for this community. There are a lot of people in this community that eats, sleeps and breathes football and they love GSC football."