CUMBERLAND — West Virginia teams received a first glimpse of their questions last week, while Maryland teams begin their quest for answers this evening as the first full round of area high school football gets under way with seven games tonight and one tomorrow.
Two teams with a core of returning starters from last year open their season at Greenway Avenue Stadium as the Southern Garrett Rams take on the Allegany Campers. At Falcon Stadium in Short Gap, W.Va., a pair of teams coming off season-opening wins will square off as Moorefield visits Frankfort. Meanwhile, the Mountain Ridge Miners return two starters from last year’s Maryland playoff team when they play host to the Jefferson County Cougars (1-0).
The Hampshire Trojans (1-0) went on the road last week and opened their season with a huge win, and they open at home against an Elkins team that opened its season in just as impressive fashion. The Bishop Walsh Spartans open their second season under head coach Geno Taylor after going 4-4 last season, traveling to Eastern Regional Park in Chase to take on Our Lady of Mount Carmel of the Baltimore MIAA C Conference.
The Northern Garrett Huskies will take their varsity inexperience on the road as well when they visit Smithsburg, while Petersburg (0-1) will host Pendleton County.
All of tonight’s games kick off at 7 o’clock, while on Saturday Fort Hill opens its season at Greenway against Silver Oak.
• Southern, 4-6 a year ago, returns at least five starters on both sides of the ball and will look to establish its running game as most of the offensive line is intact from last year. Inexperience, however exists at quarterback as the three players competing for the job have yet to take a varsity snap.
Allegany returns 15 seniors and a talented nucleus from last year’s 3-7 team that is receiving competition at every position from a talented junior class. Returning at quarterback is Carter Imes, who passed for 735 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
At halfback will be Christian Thomas and Madison Wolford, starters from a year ago. Thomas rushed for 412 yards as a junior, while Wolford was Alco’s leading rusher, picking up 580 rushing yards and 854 all-purpose yards in eight games. Juniors Dalton Golliday and Brady Hillegas will be counted on as well.
Allegany won last year, 24-21.
• Moorefield beat Wirt County, 42-35, last week with Mikey Pultz taking in the game-winning score with 48 seconds left in the game. Quarterback Adam Snyder found Xavier Brown for the two-point conversion and then intercepted a pass in the final seconds to ice the victory.
Frankfort had the running game in high gear in its 55-27 win at North Marion, piling up 433 yards of offense, with 338 coming on the ground. Chris Faidley gained 222 yards and scored three touchdowns. Brady Watson and Damian Morgan both scored two touchdowns and quarterback Gage Shaffer threw a touchdown pass.
Moorefield won last year, 15-6.
• Mountain Ridge returns two starters from last year’s 9-2 team, offensive guard and linebacker Seth Bradley and center and defensive lineman Luke McGreevy, who helped lead an offense that scored nearly 40 points per game.
One of the deepest teams in the area last year, 13 Miners earned All-Area honors on offense — four first-teamers, five second-teamers and four honorable mentions. Ten were recognized on the All-Area team defense, highlighted by two-time Defensive Player of the Year Jarrod Harper, now at West Virginia University.
Jefferson opened with a 52-7 loss to Woodgrove, Va.
Mountain Ridge took last year’s meeting, 53-33.
• Denard Hartwell rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns and Hampshire rolled Preston, 40-7. Hartwell’s scores came in the second quarter as the Trojans built a 28-7 lead at the half and totaled 413 yards on the ground.
Elkins opened with a 43-36 road win over Oak Hill as L.J. Lawrence rushed for 255 yards and scored four times.
Elkins won last year, 29-26.
• Bishop Walsh is intent on becoming a run-first team with two quarterbacks, Terrell McGraw and Brandon Reed, directing the offense. McGraw, a running back last year, led the team in rushing with 263 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. When Reed (6-1, 190, Jr.) is not under center, he will be lined up as the starting tight end.
Also returning is split end Liam Rhodes, who caught 41 passes for 567 yards and five touchdowns. Billy Conroy moves from fullback to halfback, having rushed for 210 yards and four touchdowns.
• A year after having three effective quarterbacks, Northern turns to Aaron Broadwater to do the job this year after being the junior varsity quarterback. Sophomore Mesach Metz is working as the back-up, while tailback Jeremy Bender, the only experienced ball carrier, should receive most of the carries. On the offensive line, the Huskies are led by returning starter Shawn Snyder at guard.
Fort Hill graduate Buddy Orndorff opens his 16th season as the Smithsburg head coach with a 73-79 record. Last year the Leopards were 3-7 and return their top three ballcarriers, led by Zach Krall with 627 yards. Krall competed with Matt Sprecher for the starting quarterback position and will likely return to tailback if Sprecher is the quarterback.
Smithsburg leads the series, 9-1, and won last year’s game, 7-0.
• Petersburg dropped its opener to Keyser, 60-12. Cory Pool threw a pair of touchdowns passes on successive offensive plays, the first for 72 yards to Kelson Thorne, the second to Alex See one play after intercepting a pass.
Petersburg beat Pendleton last year, 14-12.
Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org