Aug. 27—MOOREFIELD, W.Va. — It's been over nine months since anyone in the area has played high school football, but Moorefield will host Frankfort tonight as the 2021 season begins right on time in West Virginia after COVID delayed the start a year ago.
Although the Falcons are losing a good chunk of their 2020 team that finished 7-1 before COVID numbers in Mineral County forced the end of their season, Frankfort head coach Kevin Whiteman always has playoff expectations for his team. Peyton Clark and Luke Robinette are expected to play a key role in doing so, as Frankfort's lone returners from the 2020 All-Potomac Highlands first or second team.
Last year, Clark rushed for 569 yards on 73 carries with five touchdowns, en route to an All-PH Second Team honor, while Robinette made first-team as a sophomore after an area-best five interceptions at safety to go along with 32 tackles, including 23 solos, and an interception return for a score.
The Falcons return just two starters on offense — guard Dalton Dent and tackle Chase Snyder — and bring back four starters on defense.
While Frankfort hasn't named a starting quarterback yet, Robinette and sophomore Landon Kinser have been competing for the job during the preseason.
Moorefield, meanwhile, returns its starting quarterback, three on the offensive line and its top wideout on offense, as well as All-Potomac Highlands Second Team and West Virginia All-State Second Team defensive lineman Malachi Hinger.
Branson See will line up at quarterback in head coach Matt Altobello's spread offense, with Hinger, Matthew Delawder and Zaden Stonestreet protecting the interior offensive line after returning as starters from last year's 4-3 team.
Coleman Mongold will lineup at wideout for the senior-laden Yellow Jackets after hauling in 14 passes for 182 yards and a pair of scores a season ago.
Frankfort leads the all-time series, 24-7, and has won six of the previous eight meetings, including three in a row. The two teams were supposed to meet in Week 1 last year before COVID delayed the start of the season by a week — the Falcons and Yellow Jackets scrimmaged that week instead.
Frankfort (0-0) at Moorefield (0-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Frankfort leads, 24-7
LAST MEETING: Aug. 30, 2019 — Frankfort won, 35-3
LAST SEASON'S RECORD: Frankfort 7-1, Moorefield 4-3
FOR THE RECORD: Frankfort has six returning starters from last year's team — two on offense and four on defense. ... All-Potomac Highlands Second Team running back Peyton Clark returns for his campaign. ... All-Potomac Highlands First Team defensive back Luke Robinette figures to play a key role in disrupting the Moorefield passing attack, led by quarterback Branson See. ... See is among a key core of Yellow Jackets returning as starters from last year's team, including guards Malachi Hinger and Zaden Stonestreet and center Matthew Delawder, as well as wide receiver Coleman Mongold. ... Kevin Whiteman enters his 12th season as head coach at Frankfort, while Matt Altobello is starting his fourth year leading the Yellow Jackets. ... Traditionally a Week 1 or Week 2 matchup for much of the 2000s, the Falcons have won six of the previous nine meetings after winning eight in a row from 2003 through 2010.
Berkeley Springs (0-0) at Petersburg (0-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Berkeley Springs leads, 30-20
LAST MEETING: Aug. 30, 2019 — Petersburg won, 25-14
LAST SEASON'S RECORD: Petersburg 5-4, Berkeley Springs 3-4
FOR THE RECORD: While many of Petersburg's All-Potomac Highlands first- and second-teamers graduated, second-team Peyton Day returns at running back and hopes to wreak some havoc with All-PH honorable mention quarterback Cody Nuzum, who had over 1,500 yards of offense last season with 818 through the air and 704 on the ground, throwing eight touchdowns and running eight in himself. ... Although Berkeley Springs holds a 10-game lead in the all-time series, the Vikings have dominated in recent history, winning five straight meetings and seven of the last eight. ... The two teams didn't meet last year in Petersburg head coach Donny Evans' first season of his second stint coaching the Vikings — in Evans' first one-season stint, Berkeley Springs defeated Petersburg, 34-13. ... Tonight's game marks Terry Rea's first game as head coach of the Indians. ... After a seven-game losing skid that spanned across two seasons, Berkeley Springs brings a three-game win streak into tonight's contest. ... Berkeley Springs returns 19 of 22 starters from last year's team.
Preston (0-0) at Hampshire (0-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: Preston leads, 10-7
LAST MEETING: Aug. 30, 2019 — Preston won, 37-14
LAST SEASON'S RECORD: Hampshire 2-8, Preston 3-7
FOR THE RECORD: Hampshire quarterback Alex Hott led the area in passing during the COVID season, throwing for 1,398 yards and 16 total touchdowns (11 passing, five rushing), and was named All-Potomac Highlands Honorable Mention. ... The Trojans will look to replace the output of three-time All-Area Trevor Sardo, who made the All-Area First Team in 2018 and All-Potomac Highlands First Team in 2020 as a wide receiver and All-Area First Team in 2019 as a defensive back. ... Nathan Sions returns for his junior campaign after making the All-Potomac Highlands First Team after making 46 tackles, three sacks, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. ... The lidlifter for both teams since 2006, with the exception of last year's COVID-delayed season, the Knights have won five of the previous six meetings. ... Hampshire's last win in the series came in the season opener in 2017 when Trent Corbin and Logan Clower scored a pair of touchdowns each, and John Hicks recovered two fumbles as the Trojans scored 27 unanswered points in a 27-12 victory. ... Tonight's matchup will mark Preston head coach Mark Deep's first game as head coach after he was appointed earlier this year. ... Both teams are vying for their fourth Class AAA playoff appearance in school history this season — Preston made the playoffs in 2019 with a 4-6 regular-season record, while the Trojans haven't been to the postseason since 2003.
East Hardy (0-0) at Gilmer County (0-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m.
ALL-TIME SERIES: East Hardy leads, 2-0
LAST MEETING: Aug. 31, 2007 — East Hardy won, 60-14
LAST SEASON'S RECORD: East Hardy 6-2, Gilmer County 5-4
FOR THE RECORD: Mason Miller takes over the reins at quarterback and has a big target to throw to: 6-foot-3 wideout Dawson Price (All-Potomac Highlands Second Team in 2020) returns on the perimeter after hauling in 26 passes for 534 yards and seven touchdowns last season. ... Defensive lineman Erik Flynn (50 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, All-Potomac Highlands First Team) leads an East Hardy defense that was one of the best in school history in 2020, yielding just 9.5 points per game. ... Gilmer County is coached by fifth-year Thomas Cogar and led by quarterback Ean Hamric, who nabbed the QB spot on the West Virginia All-State First Team in runaway fashion last year after completing 91 of 143 passes for 1,516 yards and 20 touchdowns with six picks, while also rushing for 597 yards and eight more scores.
Robert C. Byrd (0-0) at Keyser (0-0)
GAME POSTPONED: Tonight's game between the No. 3 and No. 9 teams in the West Virginia MetroNews Week 1 power rankings was postponed following COVID contact tracing among the Keyser program. The Golden Tornado were unable to meet the 14 required practices mandated by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission prior to today, having largely been unable to practice since Aug. 16. As of Monday, Keyser had only had 11 practices. The game, for now, is a postponement and not a forfeit, as the Golden Tornado and RCB may be able to make up the game at a later date.
Kyle Bennett is a sports reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KyleBennettCTN.