Time for the pigskins to fly.
This weekend marks the start of the high school football season in both Ohio and West Virginia, and there are seven contests going on from within the Ohio Valley Publishing area.
With the exception of the Point Pleasant Big Blacks, the tri-county area will be in full swing — including one head-to-head matchup between the bigger schools in both Gallia and Meigs counties.
Gallia Academy and Meigs square off on Friday night, while River Valley, Eastern, Southern, Wahama and Hannan also kick the 2019 campaign off on Friday. South Gallia welcomes Symmes Valley on Saturday night in its opener.
Here’s a brief look at all of the Week 1 football games from the OVP area.
Gallia Academy Blue Devils at Meigs Marauders
The Gallia Academy and Meigs football teams are set to open the season against each other for the fifth consecutive season. Last fall, the Blue Devils ended the Marauders’ three-year winning streak in the series with a 47-34 triumph in Gallipolis. This is the 38th gridiron meeting between the schools, with GAHS holding a 25-12 edge, with 18 of those victories as season openers. The Blue Devils last tasted victory in Meigs County on Aug. 26, 2005, when they topped the Maroon and Gold by a 28-6 count on Bob Roberts Field in Pomeroy. Gallia Academy returns 29 players from last season’s 9-2 playoff squad, while the Marauders have 22 returnees from their 4-6 team last year. This is the first game for Marauders head coach David Tennant, who will try to avoid having the program lose back-to-back season openers for the first time since 2011-12. GAHS hasn’t started consecutive seasons with a win since 2005-06.
River Valley Raiders at Coal Grove Hornets
The Raiders and Hornets will meet as non-league foes for the second straight season, after not facing each other for four years in a row. These teams met a dozen times as members of the Ohio Valley Conference from 2002-to-2013, with the Hornets going 11-1 against RVHS in that time. River Valley last defeated the Hornets on Oct. 3, 2003, by a 42-6 count in Cheshire. River Valley went 1-3 in non-league play a year ago, the first time the Raiders hadn’t finished its non-league slate at .500-or-better since joining the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division prior to the 2014 season. Before last season, RVHS had won four straight season openers. The Raiders — who haven’t started consecutive seasons with a loss 2007-08 — bring 20 players back from last season’s squad.
Eastern Eagles at Huntington Huntsmen
Last season was the first-ever meeting between Eastern and Huntington, with the Huntsmen taking a 35-0 victory. Both teams were 5-5 last season, ending strings of sub-.500 seasons for each, three for EHS and five for HHS. The Huntsmen haven’t finished a year with a winning record since 2000, while EHS will be trying for its first winning campaign since 2012. The Eagles have not started the season with a win since 2004, when they topped visiting South Gallia by a 41-6 mark. Eastern has been shut out in back-to-back openers for the first time since 1997-98. Since the expansion of the TVC Hocking in 2010, Eastern is 4-14 out of conference, dropping four straight non-league decisions. Eastern will be in Ross County for the first time since falling to Zane Trace by a 67-0 tally on Sept. 2, 2005. The Eagles have 22 players returning from last season.
Southern Tornadoes at Notre Dame Titans
The Tornadoes and Titans meet to open the season for the sixth consecutive year, with Southern holding a perfect record in the current series. Southern’s 36-6 victory in Racine was its seventh straight over NDHS, including of wins from 2005 and 2006. Notre Dame last defeated SHS on September 19, 2004, when the Titans won that game by a 34-0 count in Portsmouth. Southern has won six consecutive season openers, while Notre Dame has gone six straight years without a season-opening win. The Tornado streak began with victory over River Valley in 2013, and has featured a pair of shut outs. The Tornadoes have won at least one non-conference game in each of the last five seasons and SHS is 10-8 in non-league play since the expansion of the TVC Hocking in 2010. Southern enters 2019 with 10 returnees from last year, as the Purple and Gold look for their seventh straight regular season non-conference win.
Ravenswood Red Devils at Wahama White Falcons
The White Falcons and Red Devils face one another in the season opener for the sixth consecutive season, with Ravenswood having won the previous two meetings while increasing its all-time mark to 35-24-3 against Wahama. WHS last won this game at home in 2015 by a 42-0 count and also picked up its last victory over the Red Devils in 2016 by a 26-14 margin at RHS. James Toth coached his first game at Wahama last year during a 42-0 setback and finished the year with a 1-9 mark. Ravenswood ended the 2018 campaign with a 3-7 record. These two teams will face one another on a more regular basis starting next fall when Wahama joins Ravenswood as members of the Little Kanawha Conference. This year is the last for the White Falcons as members of the Tri-Valley Conference, with Wahama assembling an 11-7 mark in non-conference contests since the fall of 2010.
Hannan Wildcats at Parkersburg Catholic Crusaders
The Wildcats are shooting for their first season-opening victory in two decades after dropping 19 consecutive season openers — dating back to the 1999 campaign. Hannan went 0-9 last fall under first-year coach Kellie Thomas and the Cats have also dropped 14 consecutive regular season decisions. HHS last won on the road during a 41-0 decision at Hundred back on Sept. 16, 2017. The Wildcats defeated visiting Jenkins (KY) by a 41-8 count two weeks later for the program’s last triumph. The Crusaders lost in the opening round of the Class A playoffs last year after going 8-3 overall. PCHS also posted a 43-0 decision over Hannan in Ashton last fall during its final regular season game of the year. The Crusaders won their first season opener in five years last season with a 47-14 decision at Paden City. Parkersburg Catholic also secured the program’s first winning season last fall since the 2013 campaign.
Symmes Valley Vikings at South Gallia Rebels
After a three-year hiatus, South Gallia and Symmes Valley renewed its rivalry a year ago, with the Vikings squeaking out a 14-12 home victory. It was one of three one-possession games the Rebels were involved in last fall, with the Red and Gold going 0-3 in such contests. SVHS has won seven straight in the head-to-head series, and is 16-1 all-time against SGHS., with the Rebels’ only victory coming on Oct. 13, 2006, by a 20-13 count in Willow Wood. South Gallia is just 6-17 in varsity season openers all-time, with a four-year losing skid. The Vikings have started a dozen consecutive seasons 1-0, a streak that dates back to 2007. Since joining the TVC Hocking in 2010, SGHS has only had a pair of seasons (2010 and 2018) without a non-league victory. The Rebels are 8-10 in non-league regular season play since joining the TVC Hocking, and will also face River Valley this season. Although the Rebels have just 18 players on the 2019 roster, 15 are returning from last season.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.