HUNTINGTON — Huntington High is ranked as high as second in Class AAA by some preseason high school football publications, but Highlanders coach Billy Seals said today is on his mind much more than is the postseason.
Monday marks the beginning of high school football practice in West Virginia. Ohio schools started Thursday and Kentucky schools more than two weeks ago.
"Where do you want to be postseason," Seals asked his team, via Twitter. "That is the important question. We must work every day to be where we want to be."
Huntington High returns several standouts from last season's playoff team that finished 8-5. The Highlanders, though, must compensate for massive losses on the offensive
line after Darnell Wright (University of Tennessee), Max Howell (East Tennessee State University) and Bryce Damous (Garden City Junior College) and Christian Hanna (Glenville State College) graduated.
HHS opens vs. Riverside at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at home.
Spring Valley begins defense of its Mountain State Athletic Conference championship and is in a similar situation to the Highlanders. The Timberwolves, three-time state runner-up in Class AAA, begin workouts with several returning starters, but lost to graduation many outstanding players, including offensive lineman Doug Nester (Virginia Tech), Owen Chafin (West Virginia University), Graeson Malashevich (WVU) and Will Adkins (Glenville State College).
Malashevich already is showing how difficult he'll be to replace by his performance in camp with the Mountaineers.
"Talk about somebody that has really turned a lot of heads for our players this summer," WVU coach Neal Brown told HD Media's Tom Bragg. "He came in and worked hard. One of the top players in the state last year, and you can see it."
Cabell Midland also is a highly ranked Class AAA team looking to return to the playoffs.
"We're excited for the season," Knights coach Luke Salmons said.
Wayne begins the season in somber fashion. The Pioneers will take the field without Colt Adams, a standout tight end killed in a car crash on May 28.
Point Pleasant starts practice Monday, but could wait a couple of weeks if coach Dave Darst desired. The Big Blacks have open dates he first two weeks of the season and don;t play until Sept. 13 at Gallia Academy.