PARKERSBURG -Normally, when Warren Local's football team travels to Don Drumm Stadium, it expects to be playing arch-rival Marietta.
But it will be playing a different "home'' team there at 7:30 p.m. today when the Warriors square off against Parkersburg High in the season opener for both teams.
Although this is officially Parkersburg's home game, the bleachers at its traditional home, Stadium Field, still are condemned, making it impossible for the game to take place there. So, PHS officials moved the game to Marietta, the closest venue that would allow the game to take place on artificial surface.
By playing on Saturday night, the Big Reds normally would subject themselves to a short week of practice next week, but that won't happen as PHS will enjoy its bye week before traveling to Cabell Midland on Sept. 13.
Parkersburg has participated in two preseason scrimmages, taking on Winfield and Spring Valley. Against Winfield, coach Don Reeves felt his team looked nervous and "slightly out of shape.'' Against Spring Valley, the Big Reds showed improvement, although they had a difficult time handling Spring Valley's pair of 300-pound tackles. Reeves came away impressed with the way freshman Ben McFarland battled against them. McFarland has a chance to start on the varsity squad.
PHS will be without two of its five starting linemen tonight as John Null will be out for a couple weeks and Dalton Shamblin is waiting to be cleared from a concussion.
Who: Warren Local vs.
What: Season opening football game
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Don Drumm Stadium, Marietta
Reeves and members of his staff have attended both of Warren's scrimmages in an attempt to find out what the Warriors do best. They came away impressed by senior tight end David Ryan, who has caught the attention of college scouts.
Warren is coming off a 4-6 season that saw the Warriors win their last two games. For the past three seasons, Warren has had enjoyed the luxury of having Dylan Leffingwell as its starting quarterback. His graduation opened up the position with senior Austin Klintworth and junior Andrew Henthorn the leading candidates. The Warriors return 17 seniors including four starting linemen in Mickael Hinton, Tyler Welch, Chris Massey and Gunnar Smith. They will be blocking for fullbacks Jake Scott and Aaron Sealy and halfbacks Jared Isner, Lance Schafer, Justus Johnson and Noy Rogers.
Parkersburg returns several key skill players from last year including quarterback Aaron Roberts, running back Chandler Hamilton and wide receiver Dan Fox. The Big Reds are attempting to rebuild their lines and must improve defensively. PHS has a strong kicking game with Josh Roney doing the placekicking and second team all-stater Kyle Foster serving as the punter.
PHS will be inducting former all-state guard Father George Nedeff into its football hall of fame.