Columns/Opinion, Joe Smith, Local Sports, Sports

Believe it or not, high school football is around the corner

The fireworks have subsided  and the grills are cooling down, putting a wrap on another Independence Day season. As we waltz into the high-humidity of July, one of my favorite seasons rapidly encroaches on us — football season.

In less than a month, high school squads across the state will toss on their shoulder pads and helmets on for another go-round on the gridiron, chasing one of the grandest prizes in West Virginia — a trip to Wheeling Island Stadium to play in the Super Six.

You can expect a full preview on all the local teams from The Dominion Post come August, but here are four early storylines from Monongalia and Preston counties football to keep your eye on as we prepare for the 2018 season.

The Return of the Buckwheat Bowl

If there is one thing Preston County loves more than its sports, its buckwheat.

The unique crop gained traction across the county during the Great Depression, grown primarily for animal feed but also as an “insurance crop” to spur economic growth through agriculture. When an end-of-harvest festival was proposed, buckwheat was chosen as the festival’s namesake and focus.

Eighty years later, the Buckwheat Festival has become a late-September staple of the region. One tradition that arose over the years was the Buckwheat Bowl, a Preston Knights football game held on a weekday afternoon mid-festival.

After the game was discontinued for a time, the Knights decided to revive the concept in 2016, hosting Hedgesville on the Thursday afternoon of the Festival, where they suffered a 58-13 defeat.

After a year away, the game will make another triumphant return, as the Knights will again host Hedgesville during the Festival. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff   Sept. 27.

Preston and Hedgesville last met in 2017, in which the Knights were steamrolled, 42-12. The loss was the second of four straight for the Knights en route to a 2-8 finish. Hedgesville went on to finish the season 7-4 following a first-round playoff loss to Hurricane.

UHS’s Division 1-bound passing attack

It’s not often a team is blessed with a combination of players such as the one University will field the fall.

The past calendar year has seen Logan Holgorsen don three different jerseys, but he’s finally found a home suitable for his senior campaign. The former St. Frances Academy (Md.) and Morgantown High quarterback, who threw for over 1,300 yards during his sophomore season at MHS, has settled at cross-town rival UHS.

Holgorsen has demonstrated incredible pocket presence and football IQ for a quarterback of his age, which likely in large part is owed to growing up with a pass-oriented Division 1 football coach as a father. His skill has earned multiple Division 1 offers — originally Holgorsen committed to North Texas in 2017, but recently flipped his commitment to Bowling Green after a campus visit.

Now, Holgorsen will be equipped with a new weapon in his new home — one of equal talent on the field. Hawks senior wide receiver Amir Richardson tallied 48 receptions during his junior campaign for a total of 714 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has received 13 Division 1 offers, including three from Power-5 programs — Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, and WVU.

The duo will look to make a solid first impression when the Hawks kick-off the season at John Marshall on August 24th, but one thing is for sure – when the two find their groove, they’re likely to terrorize defenses across the state.

As for the Mohigans and Cee-Bees, we’ll have to wait for another day.