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Quite an opening act

By | Gazette-Mail High School Huddle
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Chris Dorst
Jon Alexander (left), who started at quarterback last year for South Charleston, will make his debut for GW tonight against SC.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You'd be hard-pressed to find an opening game anywhere across West Virginia this weekend that measures up to the one in South Hills tonight.

When South Charleston stops in for a visit with next-door neighbor George Washington at 7:30, you can almost gauge the impact on the Richter scale.

  • The teams have developed a pretty nice rivalry, meeting every year since 1999, usually early in the season, with GW leading the series 8-6 over that stretch, having won the last three games.
  • The two have also become major players in Class AAA in recent years, with the Patriots going 55-10 over the last five seasons and the Black Eagles 49-12. And let's not forget, each had made a pair of appearances in the state title game since 2008.
  • Adding a bit more intrigue to tonight's showdown is the fact that the quarterback who suited up for SC in last year's opener against GW - Jon Alexander - will take snaps tonight for the Patriots. He left SC at midseason last year, played a bit at Hargrave Military Academy (Va.), then transferred back to the Kanawha Valley.
  • It should all make for a pretty interesting evening at Steve Edwards Sr. Field.

    "This is definitely an important game,'' said Donnie Mays, SC's first-year coach. "I tell our kids every week, 'This is the most important game you'll ever play, because it's the one that's happening right now.' It just happens to be a rival.

    "I don't think we need to spend a lot of time getting the kids pumped up to play against George Washington because they get after each other. It's a long-standing rivalry and both teams have had some success. I just hope Thursday night we get the better of this one.''

    GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. acknowledged that the Patriots-Eagles rivalry sets the tone for the season, but also realizes there are at least nine more games left.

    "It is just one ballgame,'' Edwards said. "I think all of us try to give the impression to the kids that every game in football is important. We don't have the luxury of basketball and baseball where they play each other twice and have 15, 16 officiated practices.

    "We don't all get in the tournament. You have to earn your way into the tournament. It just puts on a little bit more added pressure. All the coaches put pressure on ourselves. We want to do a good job and do the kids justice so they can go out and give their best effort.''

    The Patriots got an infusion of talent in the offseason as Alexander enrolled and was joined by former Scott all-stater Draven Riffe. Alexander threw for 1,002 yards in five starts at SC last year, and Riffe ran for 1,323 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2011. Riffe attended Van last year, but an injury prevented him from playing.

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