Third & Long – Week Four

First Quarter Report Cards

We have officially passed through the first quarter of the 2022 season. We are entering the midseason grind where teams develop into their best selves… or begin to self-destruct. One thing that is for sure is that prep players are unpredictable, and you don’t know how they will handle success/failure. The game of football has a unique ability of putting kids into those situations. Needless to say, coming out of the first quarter of the season, these teams have passing grades:

Hurricane: A

They have handled business and have shown why they have to be in the conversation of one of the better teams in the state. Winning 56-7 over George Washington last week, a team that I have high praise for, was a very impressive feat. Was that a bright spot or the coming out party? I am sure time will tell.

Petersburg: A+

What a pleasant surprise it is to see Petersburg starting the season off the way they have. Beginning 3-0 with each one being impressive in their own right: beating rival Berkeley Springs is a tall task, smoking a good Buffalo team, and defeating Pendleton County by a commanding score of 52-6. They deserve the grade they received and hopefully keep it up the rest of the way.

Tucker County: A+

Tucker County is another team that has come on strong, which was shown with a 14-13 win over East Hardy last Friday night. It was a significant upset victory that surely put them back on the map. 3-0 isn’t easy to do, and they have put together wins over always-competitive Pocahontas County and Tygarts Valley teams.

Other Report Cards:

Musselman: B

Princeton: B+

Parkersburg South: B+

Roane County: B+

Hedgesville: B

Logan: B+

Scott: A-

Winfield: B+

Wirt County: B+

Montcalm: A-

Tug Valley: A-

Van: B+

Wahama: B+

 Let’s Take the Gloves Off

I absolutely love this week’s slate of games. We have a little bit of everything, from showdowns between Top 10s to teams that are fighting for their playoff lives in mid-September. Last week was kind of boring- a lot of chalk -but this week is about taking the gloves off and having an old-fashioned brawl.

Hurricane vs Spring Valley

Love this game, and it’s not the contrast of styles as most picture in your head. You might imagine big, physical, run the ball down your throat Spring Valley. Not this year though, they can throw the ball, spread you out, and destroy you with the run. Hurricane, (refer to above), and it leads to a fun game (Maybe the MSAC Championship Game?).

Prediction: Spring Valley 31 – Hurricane 28

Huntington vs George Washington

It is always a great game between these two storied programs. This game could determine home field advantage in November, and it features two of the best QB’s in the state. It’s honestly going to come down to their arms and who can make more plays.

Prediction: Huntington 41 – George Washington 35

Parkersburg vs Parkersburg South

IT’S BACK. Coach Kimes has the Big Reds running once again, blistering the scoreboard. Coach Tanner has the Patriots scoring in every fashion that’s allowed in the rulebook. It just feels better in the state when teams from Parkersburg are good.

Prediction: Parkersburg South 34 – Parkersburg 25

Bridgeport vs Fairmont Senior

One of the top games each year, regardless of classification. This adds up to be another classic battle. Both have high expectations for the season but the context never really matters in this game. Bridgeport has won the last two, but can they match the athleticism of the Polar Bears?

Prediction: Fairmont Sr. 41 – Bridgeport 31

Scott vs Point Pleasant

Sneaky sneaky sneaky game here… and it’s going to be a doozy. These may be two top five teams in AA this year. Point Pleasant is back and ready to get to center stage, even after taking a close loss a few weeks ago. Scott raised eyebrows through the summer with their 7v7 performances, and it’s carried over for sure in the first three weeks.

Prediction: Point Pleasant 24 – Scott 21

Down Swing

One of the hardest things to do is to continue going when things are not going well. That may be a truth in life and in football but sometimes it’s reality. When you come into a season, every team believes they have a chance. If we do this, and we beat this team, then we can get on a run. That runs through the heads of every player, parent, coach, and fan. You want to believe that your team is going to make it this year.

Now that we have exited the first quarter of the season, the reality for many teams is that this isn’t your year. It may not be clicking for whatever reason. Your team is young, you had early season injuries, or it’s just not working. The down swing, the hard downward flow of emotions can be very difficult on kids and coaches alike. How do you handle it, how should you handle it? My guess is that everyone handles it differently. You will see players quit the team, less fans come to the games, and the loud (though probably not in-person) disapproval of the coaching staff begins to grow from week to week.

This is an advice portion, and take it with a grain of salt.

Situation: Sitting at 0 or 1 wins and feeling that the season is a waste.

As a senior, focus on one day at a time. The worst thing you can do is quit. You will regret it for the rest of your life. Focus on the small victories in practice and attack it with a positive attitude. There are games you’re going to win- go win them. Give everything you got to pull off a big upset that you will talk about the rest of your life. Enjoy all the moments on the field and in the lockerroom. Once it’s over, it’s done for good. Enjoy it, every second.

As a junior, fight and claw each day. Continue building something special; this may not be your year but next year may be. Keep getting better, keep pushing your teammates. See some of the mistakes from the previous offseason. Did they lift hard enough? Did they put the time in the offseason to make themselves better? Be a leader and correct that mistakes for next season.

As a sophomore or freshman, try and get on the field. If you quit, you lose valuable experience. When things are not going well, opportunities to get on the field grow substantially. You learn how much you have to get into shape, how much more you have to lift, and how much faster you need to be. You believe that it’ll last forever, but it won’t. Each season is valuable in its own right, enjoy it.

As a parent, see it as an opportunity to have your child fight through adversity. Let’s be honest, football adversity sucks, but it’s not true adversity. True adversity is going through a health scare, struggling to pay bills, or even finding food to put on the table. Football is a tool to learn how to fight through that adversity, to keep going, and give them the confidence to get through the really tough stuff. Don’t let them quit- force them to go through it. It will help them become a stronger adult when the time comes.

Don’t stop being a parent either though- love them, encourage them, and help them through the tough times. Also, be a good role model. The most dangerous and contagious behavior right now is how quick parents are to bash coaches, teachers, and officials. That gives a bad example of how to act (is there times where it’s justified? Yes, but it’s rare). One day they will have a boss, and they may not like the decisions that boss makes. They see how you treat their coach and teacher, and they will struggle later on in life.

Tough seasons are hard, and ones that you want to get over with as soon as possible. My guess is that there are plenty of kids already looking forward to basketball season or playing video games all day. Enjoy the experience and cherish the moments in the locker room with your childhood friends. Enjoy running out under those lights because it can be over as soon as it happens. The tough times will pass, and hopefully you will look back on these years with joy and a good feeling.

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