PORTSMOUTH — Friday night lights in Scioto County make their triumphant return today (Friday) after quite possibly the wackiest offseason of our lifetimes.
The conversation around youth sports at the high school level amid the coronavirus pandemic has been a passionate one.
Should they play?
Should they not play?
For the time being, football teams and other contact sports returned to play this week which means just one thing — it’s time for some football in southern Ohio with some twists that are surely to make the in-game environment feel surreal.
Week One Previews
Northwest at Valley
Valley has history on its side, while the Mohawks tout the all-important revenge factor heading into the 2020 iteration of this 60-year rivalry.
The two schools, separated by a short 6.7-mile drive, will be laying it all on the line in hopes of claiming their season-opening victory of this shortened six-game season.
The last Mohawks’ win over their county rival came in 2000, a 21-20 victory in Darren Crabtree’s second decade of leading the Indians.
Two decades since Northwest’s last series win — and the elder coach Crabtree’s team is coming off last year’s 21-14 overtime win over the Mohawks and second-year coach Bill Crabtree.
Valley touts offensive weapons such as senior dual-threat quarterback Andrew Andronis, sophomore running back George Arnett, and sophomore all-Ohio receiver Ty Perkins.
The Mohawks return Brayden Campbell and Nathan Rivers, the duo who combined to rush for over 2,000 yards in 2019, as well as four of their five starting offensive linemen and their third-year starting quarterback Austin Newman.
Look for the winner of this game to have an upward trajectory for the remainder of the regular season and push into the postseason, if healthy.
Notre Dame at West
This year’s Notre Dame team is its deepest and healthiest heading into the regular season in coach Bob Ashley’s recent memory — but will they be able to keep up with the size and depth of Division V opponent Portsmouth West?
This Southern Ohio Conference Division I and Division II matchup may prove to tell where the Titans and Senators will stack up in their respective conference races after each school finished at the bottom of those respective standings in 2019.
Wheelersburg at Chillicothe
Prior to the start of their defense of their SOC II regular-season championship for the seventh straight season, the Wheelersburg Pirates begin their 2020 campaign traveling to Chillicothe to face the Cavaliers.
Wheelersburg and its coaching staff are no strangers to playing at Herrnstein Field, home of the Cavs.
During the 2017 Division V state championship season, Wheelersburg played three of its five postseason games leading to Canton at Herrnstein Field.
In the 2018 postseason, when this year’s senior Pirates were sophomores and finished as state semifinalists, Wheelersburg won its second-round game of the OHSAA playoffs over Jamestown Greeneview there.
Washington Court House at Minford
While it’s not been the ideal lead-up to the season that the Minford Falcons may have hoped for, they are indeed in-line to open their 2020 campaign with a home game versus Washington Court House on Friday.
Last week’s week of practice was the first time during the month of August that the Falcons have put on pads for full contact — following a positive COVID-19 case which prompted a two-week shutdown.
Minford scrimmaged Fairland on Saturday in its first action with an opponent since its loss to Wheelersburg in the opening round of the Division V OHSAA playoffs a year ago.
Fairfield Christian Academy at Green
The Chad Coffman era as Green’s head football coach officially kicks off on Friday as Fairfield Christian Academy travels to Franklin Furnace for both teams’ season opener.
Although the depth of their 20-man roster may cause hiccups come time for their Southern Ohio Conference Division I schedule, the Bobcats should be the favorites in this matchup — as FCA is 1-28 in its last three seasons.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved