Flying under the radar

Under the radar.

It’s a term reserved for teams whose expectations aren’t high enough to be on the radar screen.

It’s also a term that applies to many of the teams quite popular with Mid-Ohio Valley football fans, from the National Football League down to the high school level.

Start with the Pittsaburgh Steelers, who seem to win year in and year out. There are concerns the team has slipped.

After all, it was the Baltimore Ravens who won the AFC North and went on take the Super Bowl last season.

Can coach Mike Tomlin revive an aging team and keep it a contender?

On to the college ranks.

Last year, expectations were sky-high for West Virginia University. The Mountaineers opened the season in the top 10 and were being mentioned as a possible national champion. But WVU’s first year in the Big 12 was a huge disappointment, ending in a 7-6 campaign, including a loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.

This year, there are no such expectations.

Most of WVU’s talent graduated. There is talk the Mountaineers may have a losing season. If that happens, caoch Dana Holgorsen will find himself on the hot seat.

Meanwhile, it is the state’s other major college football program, Marshall University, whose fans are excited.

The Herd returns a great deal of talent from last year’s 5-7 team. Coach Doc Holliday has had time to put his program in place and Herd fans believe this could be the year their team makes some noise in Conference USA.

If it doesn’t, then the honeymoon between local hero Holliday and Herd fans will be over.

On to the prep ranks.

I’ve seen a dozen different predictions for the upcoming high school football season and virtually none even mentions either of Parkersburg’s Class AAA high schools as being playoff contenders.

Yes, Parkersburg South graduated a tremendous amount of talent and faces a rugged schedule under first-year head coach Mike Eddy.

But the cupboard isn’t totally bare and Eddy is a proven winner and program builder. The Patriots may be rebuilding but this construction project may get done fast.

On to Parkersburg High, where it is another construction project -the one to make sure Stadium Field is ready by August-that has consumed Big Reds fans this summer.

Parkersburg High hasn’t won a state playoff game since capturing the state title in 2007. That makes the natives restless.

Parkersburg returns its starting quarterback from a year ago and inherits a freshmen class many believe is the one that will return the the Big Reds back to their glory days.

Plus, the hiring of several former PHS football standouts as assistant coaches also has generated some enthusiasm.

It’s going to be another interesting fall.