With just three weeks left in the high school football season, talk is turning not only to the state playoffs, but who will win the Super Six state championship games.
That's always a spirited discussion, and it is especially so this year.
Only one of the three classes being contested has a clear-cut favorite while the other two are wide open.
Let's take a look at each:
Class AAA: It has been a great year for Class AAA football in the Mountain State. Two-time defending state champion Martinsburg's only loss was to an out-of-state team. Ditto for the team it beat in last year's title game, George Washington, who played without returning Kennedy Award winner Ryan Switzer in its setback to Paul Blazer of Kentucky.
Cabell Midland is undefeated and on the verge of winning the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship. Plus, Huntingon's only loss was a 14-13 heartbreaker to Cabell Midland.
It's likely the eventual state champion will come from that group of four. But both Morgantown teams also are dangerous.
Locally, injuries have taken their toll on Parkersburg South. If the Patriots make the playoff field, they would make a dangerous first-round draw. South was No. 13 last year and beat No. 4 in the opening round.
Class AA: When I send in my ballot in the weekly Daily Mail poll, I have a routine for my Class AA top 10.
After typing in 1. Wayne, I leave about five blank spaces between the Pioneers and whoever I select to be No. 2 that week.
There's that much of a gap between the defending state champions and the rest of the Class AA field.
Yes, it will be interesting to see whether Bridgeport - which was quite competitive in Class AAA - can matchup with Wayne should the two meet. Plus, Bluefield always has talent and eastern panhandle teams Frankfort and Keyser look strong.
But when it comes to talking about championship material, the Class AA conversation must begin with Wayne. If anybody else wins, it will be considered a major upset.
Class A: Although Wheeling Central is 5-3, you never can count out the Maroon Knights, who have dominated this class in recent years.
But we know there's at least one Class A?team that can beat them since Magnolia won their regular season meeting. That's not surprising. When word got out Magnolia was going to Class A, everyone knew the Blue Eagles would be a contender.
Who else is title worthy? Certainly Madonna, whose only loss is a one-point setback to Central, as well as unbeaten Wahama.
Locally, both St. Marys and Wirt County are capable of making a title run, but beating the elite teams might be difficult.
I can't wait for the playoffs to begin, when we will find out who are the real contenders and who are nothing more than pretenders.