Head to any area high school football field and you will see scores of young men sweating it out in the August heat.
You will see the pigskin being tossed around.
You will hear the coach’s whistle.
But most of all, you will feel the anticipation.
The anticipation for the upcoming football season.
It’s closer than you think.
High school football teams across the state of West Virginia have been hard at work for more than a week in preparation for the upcoming grid season.
But this week is the week it starts to become even more real.
That’s when prep teams are allowed to play the first of two preseason scrimmages and have the chance to knock heads against someone other than a teammate.
Logan County teams Logan, Chapmanville and Man have been hard at work for the new season and all three are scheduled to have its first preseason tests on Saturday.
The Triple-A Logan Wildcats are slated to have a scrimmage on Saturday at Riverside in a 10 a.m. kickoff. The 2A Chapmanville Tigers host Clay County, while Single-A Man goes to Triple-A George Washington for a preseason game.
Logan is then scheduled to play on Friday, Aug. 21 in the Williamson Grid-O-Rama against Tolsia in its final scrimmage. The Wildcats and Rebels are slated to kick off at 9 p.m. at Williamson’s Lefty Hamilton Park.
The Cats are facing off against Riverside and Tolsia for the second straight year.
Logan, which went 3-7 last year, is scheduled to open the regular season on Aug. 28 at traditional county rival Man.
Logan coach Gary Mullins, now in his sixth year, said he’s seen a lot of hard work from his players in the preseason camp.
“We’ve got 45 out and we’ve pretty much kept 45 since the first day,” Mullins said. “Everyone has pretty much came to practice every day and the seniors and juniors have perfect attendance. They have worked really hard and they have been on time. That’s the little things that we look for this early in the year. We’ve been going two practices in the evenings. I think it has worked better because they can get a ride here easier in the evenings. We’ve been going from 4 to 6:30 and then they have been getting an hour and a half off. Then we go from 8 to 10.”
Mullins said his team was able to get a lot of work done back in June in the three-week summer practice period.
“We’ve had the June practice period every year since I have been here and this is my sixth year,” he said. “I think what it does best is that it allows you to put in your offense and defense. For us, it allows us to hand out the equipment, so on the first day we can just start practice. I remember back when I played when you came to your first practice you didn’t get on the field until about 10 o’clock. You were in the locker room for about two hours getting your helmet and your equipment. It allows you to get a jump-start on your offense and defense and it allows you to get your equipment and do a little bit of conditioning.”
Mullins said Riverside and Tolsia will be two good scrimmage games again for his Wildcats, just like they were last year.
“Both of our scrimmage teams are very physical,” he said. “They are both playoff teams or at least right on the edge of being a playoff team. We feel like both will get us ready for the season. My first year, we scrimmaged two Single-A schools and I think when we got in the Man game Man was a lot bigger, stronger and faster than those two teams and it took us a long time to adjust to their strengths. When we did adjust it was too late. We feel like both of these teams will get us ready.”
Tolsia is a tradition-rich Double-A football school.
The Rebels advanced all the way to the 2006 Class AA state championship game before falling to county rival Wayne.
Tolsia beat Logan, 22-7, in last year’s scrimmage.
Logan enters its second year at the Class AAA level. The Wildcats competed as a Double-A school from 2003-07 and made the 2A playoffs under Mullins twice, in 2005 and 2007.
Many starters are back for the Wildcats this year, particularly junior quarterback David Brown and several along the offensive and defensive lines.
Logan plays five Triple-A foes this year, including new opponents Hurricane, Bridgeport and Perry County Central, Ky.
— Look for more on the Man Hillbillies and Chapmanville Tigers this week in the Logan Banner sports. All three county teams will be previewed on Aug. 27 in the Banner’s annual Pigskin Preview edition.