"We're actually looking forward to it,'' said Winfield coach Willie Wilson of knocking heads with MSAC teams. "We've played seven or eight games against MSAC teams in the past and have been competing very well even though we've been low on depth and dealing with injuries and those kinds of things.
"This year we're going to give it the best shot we've got. We may have the talent to get over the hump. The kids are ready to bring it on.''
The MSAC teams Winfield meets are Hurricane, Ripley, Huntington, Riverside, Cabell Midland, Nitro, St. Albans and Spring Valley.
If Huntington coach Billy Seals could have just one wish this season, it would be to win his opening game. The Highlanders haven't opened with a victory since 2004.
"That's first and foremost,'' said Seals, who begins his third season at the Cabell County school. "We've got to build confidence early in the year. The last couple years, we've opened with South Charleston, and we were just not at that level the last two years.
"To get off to a good start, what we have to able to do is avoid injuries. We think we're a pretty good football team, but injuries can devastate us pretty quick. We're only one, two deep at certain spots.''
The Highlanders haven't been 1-0 since a 42-16 win over Herbert Hoover to start the 2004 season. Since then, they've lost six openers in a row - two each to SC (2009-10), Woodrow Wilson (2007-08) and Capital (2005-06).
This year, Huntington opens at home on Aug. 26 against Lincoln County.
Leaning on the bench
Woodrow Wilson coach John H. Lilly knows that with nine returning starters on offense and three weeks of summer practice behind them, the Flying Eagles should look smooth with the ball in preseason drills.
But that doesn't always guarantee success, Lilly said. A few injuries can shake up anyone's attack if the understudies aren't properly prepared.
"What we've learned since we've joined the MSAC,'' Lilly said, "is that it's not how good your No. 1s are, it's how good your No. 2s are. With the schedule we play, you're going to get banged up, and your backups have to be ready to play football.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.