By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
The wait is over.
High school football is finally back with a full slate of games for Marion County teams.
Here is just a little bit of what you can expect tonight:
Fairmont Senior vs. Robert C. Byrd
Fairmont Senior welcomes Robert C. Byrd to East-West stadium at 7:30 p.m. It is the only home game for the area teams, but it should be a good one.
The Polar Bears were ranked first in the state in preseason polls. That ranking will be tested when the fifth-ranked Eagles come to town.
“We tell our kids right now we're 0-0. We haven't had a win yet,” coach J.L. Abbott said. “We're going to take it game by game. That's how we've always done it in the past. It only matters at the end of 10 weeks where we're at.”
At the end of 10 weeks last year, Robert C. Byrd was on top of the new look Big Ten with an 8-2 record. The Eagles did graduate 18 of 22 starters, though.
One of the four returning is running back Ben D’Annuzio. He was one of the top backs in the conference last year with 1,140 yards on 114 carries.
Look for him to get the ball early and often for a run-oriented Eagles team that relies heavily on the stick-I and gun flex.
“We think we know what we're going to see from Byrd,” Abbott said. “Bruce (Carey) has a rich tradition of running the football. Their gameplan is probally going to be to keep the ball on the ground and chew up the clock.”
East Fairmont at Liberty
East Fairmont has a chace to start its season the same way it did last year, with a win over Liberty.
Last year the Bees defeated the Mountaineers, 28-14. East Fairmont will try repeat history when it travels to Liberty for a 7:30 p.m. game.
The game will be a clash of opposing offensive styles. The Bees will use misdirections to fool defenders and give first-year starting quarterback Jake Delaney some running lanes. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers will keep it simple with inside runs.
"They're more of a power-oriented team. We're not,” Haddox said. “They more or less run out of the I-formation and come right at you. We just hope they don’t over power us.”
Haddox said that the Bees are a young team that needs to continue to improve after the first scrimmage. He said he is pleased the with way the team has prepared so far.
“We've progressed pretty good. They've come a long way,” Haddox said. “Hopefully they don't get all excited when they turn the lights on.”
If we play well, we have a very good chance of winning the football game. We just can't make mistakes. I think if they can cut down on their mistakes we're going to be alright.”
North Marion at Frankfort
While East Fairmont is trying to repeat history, North Marion is trying to avoid it.
The Huskies started last season with a 55-27 loss to Frankfort. The defeat started an eight-game skid before the Huskies eventually won their final two games.
Tonight North Marion goes to Frankfort looking for revenge. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
It will be coach Daran Hays first time calling both the offensive and defensive plays. When he does, you can count on a lot of runs. He has said repeatedly this offseason that he wants to establish an identity as a physical, ground-and-pound offense.
Drew Harker will be getting the start under center for the Huskies. When he’s asked to throw, expect a lot of sprint outs and play action.
"We might be 3-yards and a cloud of dust but from an offensive line standpoint, hopefully we'll be better at getting off the ball,” Hays said. “I know we got some guys in the backfield who will give it all they got and keep the ball moving.”
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.