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It’s been a long time coming.

But that day finally came for the Chapmanville, Man and Logan high school football teams on Monday as the Tigers, Hillbillies and Wildcats hit the gridiron for the first time.

After a delay of two weeks, the county trio of teams held its first practice.

The delay occurred when Logan County’s status was recently red in the state’s color-coded COVID-19 risk factor map, meaning no practices were allowed.

Now orange, the teams were able to practice for the first time.

Logan County’s other high school athletic teams of soccer, golf, volleyball and cheerleading was also given the green light to practice.

“Forty-five student-athletes out today for CRHS football, and we weren’t sure if we were even going to be allowed to practice when we woke up this morning,” said Chapmanville first-year football coach James Barker in a Tweet. “So glad I got to be on the field today with people I love, masked up of course.”

Barker said the first practice went well.

“In this day and age you just don’t know how many practices you are going to get but yesterday (Monday) was a great day,” he said. “We really enjoyed it. I felt like the kids had really good energy. Obviously, it was a little bit weirder than normal. We had to practice while we gave out equipment. For not practicing and not seeing our kids for a month I thought everything looked pretty clean. We were pretty happy with the kids’ performance and happy with our senior leadership on the field.”

Chapmanville began work for its delayed season opener, set for September 18 at home against Nitro. Logan hosts Poca that night, while Man is set to travel to Mingo Central.

The first two games for the county trio were canceled, leaving the teams with 8-game seasons as of now. A minimum of 14 practices are required by the WVSSAC in order to play.

The high school football season is slated to begin this Friday night for some teams around the state.

In the state’s four-color school reopening plan, which also governs school activities, a county’s status on Saturday evening dictates whether it can play sports the following week.

Counties in the yellow category can practice and play games with limitations, but orange counties can only practice and not play games.

That means Logan County must get to yellow or green in order to play on September 18.

“Yellow means you can play,” Barker said. “We are hoping that our numbers can get back down to where they were back in March and April when this started and into May. I think that people in the community are seeing that the illness part is a little more serious than they first thought. I do see people in masks more often. As a sports program that’s based on education we appreciate the community trying to help.”

The other county in orange last Saturday was Fayette. Monroe was in red, the highest risk — and that means no games and no practice.

COVID-19 concerns ended the high school basketball season early back in March. The girls’ state tournament was suspended and the boys’ state tournament never began.

The entire spring sports season was then canceled statewide as no high school baseball, softball or tennis was played.

Summer Little League was canceled in most places, however, the Logan Little League did get in an abbreviated season in July, and the Logan 10-12-year-old all-stars then automatically advanced to the state tournament in Greenbrier County.

The whole confusion and mystery of COVID-19 was further exposed last week as the CDC quietly updated virus numbers, saying that only 6 percent of the documented deaths were because of COVID-19 alone, lowering the nationwide death count from 153,504 to 9,210.

The rest of the deaths had other serious multiple illnesses, such as heart disease.

GAMES CANCELED: Since Kanawha Valley was recently switched to orange color status that caused the cancellation of three games involving Cardinal Conference teams for this coming Friday night.

The non-conference game between Class AAA St. Albans and league member Nitro was wiped out. The close rivals play every year in the “Battle for the Bridge.”

The Winfield at Herbert Hoover conference matchup was also canceled.

Sissonville, another league foe, saw its non-conference game at St. Marys called off.

STATE RANKINGS: In the recently released WV MetroNews High School Preseason Rankings, Man was ranked No. 11 in Class A.

Logan received four votes in the Class AA poll, while Chapmanville did not get any votes.

Wheeling Central is ranked No. 1 in Class A as the Maroon Knights received 14 out of the 15 votes.

Williamstown was second, Doddridge County third, Greenbrier West fourth, St. Marys fifth, Pendleton County sixth, Tolsia seventh, Ritchie County eighth, Midland Trail ninth and East Hardy 10th.

Tug Valley also received four votes in the Class A poll.

In Class AA, Fairmont Senior edged out Bluefield for first place. The Beavers had seven first-place votes, however, to the Polar Bears’ six.

Poca, of the Cardinal Conference, was third and grabbed two first-place votes. Oak Glen was fourth, Mingo Central fifth, Keyser sixth, Shady Spring seventh, Frankfort eighth, Point Pleasant ninth and North Marion 10th.

Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter at @PAdkinsBanner or email him at padkins@hdmediallc.com