Parkersburg Catholic and Belpre both kick off the 2013 football season at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the Crusaders playing host to Buffalo at Jackson Middle School in Vienna and the Golden Eagles on the road at Zanesville Rosecrans High School.
And too both head coaches - Jeff Campbell for PCHS (5-5 last year) and Greg Adams for Belpre (4-6 in 2012) - admit to "still putting all the pieces together" this week in preparation for Saturday's openers. Campbell feels "we're not there yet in my book."
For the Crusaders though, a couple of newcomers have caught Campbell's eye. For junior cornerback/split end Brett Barton, a transfer from Parkersburg High who last played football in youth leagues, "things started to click last week," said Campbell. "His effort's just been tremendous. He's really stepped up, but then the whole junior class has stepped up," which Campbell really appreciates with only two returning seniors on this year's roster.
Another transfer-in - senior fullback/linebacker Kyle Bronski - from Marietta High School - "has done real well for us," said Campbell, "He's still learning, but he's got good technique and has been eager to learn, so he's been an additional asset."
Five were chosen as this season's captains, "and they all deserved it," said Campbell. They are two seniors - quarterback Peyton Sturm and Bronski - and three juniors - wide receiver Nick Roedersheimer, running back Jake Boice and lineman Christian Hushion.
On Saturday's foe, Campbell said the Bison "are a whole different team this year. They lost 12 seniors from last year, and their quarterback played in the North-South game and did very well - that showed you how good he was."
So Saturday, "we'll see how much better we are from last year, when put it to us pretty good (a 45-0 win). But our attitude's different, so I'm excited. It'll be a good game."
For Belpre this week, the bywords have been unity and execution. "But that's really been our theme all year so far," said Adams, who was "pleased' with his team's performance, especially on defense, in its two preseason scrimmages.
"Our defense played very well and played sound. So I hope that Saturday at Rosecrans, we continue to play that defense and the offense scores some points to get us a win."
On offense, Adams said, "we still have a little ways to go yet, but I'm really looking forward to Saturday," which he hopes is more of what the Golden Eagles were able to accomplish late last year - winning three of their final four games.
Belpre will have more players (23) on its roster Saturday than the 16 Rosecrans will dress for the game, that will be played on the Bishops' practice field with portable lights, bleachers and a scoreboard set up for the school's first-ever actual home varsity football contest.
"When we made the deal for this game, we thought it was going to be played on Zanesville High School's new field," said Adams. "Then we get a call this year that all of a sudden, they've changed venues on us, and that now we're playing behind the school on their practice field.
"I'm not happy about it, but we're not going to sit and whine about it either. We're going to use it to our advantage to hopefully bring home a victory."