DON'T LOOK NOW, but the high school football season in West Virginia is a little more than a week away, with the start of preseason practice on July 30.
With that in mind, here's a quick look at the upcoming season around the state, covering everything from A to Z:
A - Alexander alert: Junior Jon Alexander returns at quarterback for South Charleston, the 2008-09 state champion who wants to make amends for last year's 5-5 finish and miss of the playoffs. Alexander threw for 1,067 yards and 14 touchdowns last year.
B - Brooke's Bruney bows out: Coach Tom Bruney, who revived the sagging football fortunes at one-time powerhouse Brooke, stepped down citing health concerns and was replaced by Sean Blumette. Bruney went 29-9 in three seasons, including back-to-back appearances in the Class AAA title game (2010-11). Prior to that, it had been 18 years since the Bruins made it that far - they played in seven championship games from 1980-92 and won three state crowns.
C - Bruce Carey: The longtime Bridgeport coach, who took the Indians to the 2000 AA championship and made them one of the top contenders in AAA when they moved up a class, has come out of retirement to coach at neighboring rival Robert C. Byrd. Carey stepped down after the 2009 season because of health issues.
D - Megan DeBastiani: A place-kicker and refugee from the school's soccer program, she might be one of the top scorers for AAA contender Morgantown, which has averaged 38 points per game over the last two seasons and figures to try a lot of extra points. DeBastiani was a goalkeeper on the Mohigans' AAA girls soccer state championship team last fall.
E - Elijah Wellman, Spring Valley: In some circles, the debate has already begun about who deserves the Huff Award as the state's top defensive player, Wellman or George Washington's Dustin Crouser, both AAA returning first-team all-state linebackers and Division I prospects.
F - Fearsome first four: Only one team in West Virginia opens against four straight state playoff teams from a year ago - Clay County. The Panthers try to improve on a 2-8 showing last year by starting out against Roane County, Braxton County (AA quarterfinalist), Ritchie County and Valley Fayette (A quarterfinalist).
G - David Gaydosz, Cabell Midland: Last year at Winfield, Gaydosz became the program's first running back in more than a generation to go over 1,000 yards in a season before transferring. The Knights will know what to do with him: Under first-year coach Luke Salmons, Midland ran for 3,500 yards and 35 TDs in 12 games last fall.
H - Henderson makeover: Not only is the Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge over the Kanawha River being replaced in a $23.6 million project, but the football programs at either end of the span are undergoing their own reconstructions. New coaches at St. Albans (Steve Stoffel Jr.) and Nitro (Derek Midkiff) hope to revive their school's successes. Since SA appeared in the 2007 AAA title game, it's gone 11-29 and Nitro just 5-35.
I - Instate increase: Wheeling Central met only one West Virginia school in the 2010 regular season (non-SSAC member Linsly), but now plays four - including Magnolia (2010 AA titlist), Madonna (2009 A titlist), resurgent Bishop Donahue (Class A quarterfinalist last season) and crosstown rival Linsly (18-2 last two years).
J - Joint jeopardy: James Monroe, Jefferson and John Marshall - the state's three J schools - each missed the playoffs in both 2010 and 2011.
K - Kickoffs at 7 p.m. Who's in? Seventeen schools around the state now start their home games at 7. Makes sense for far-flung local leagues like the MSAC and Cardinal Conference to follow suit because of all the travel involved.
L - Liberty Harrison and Liberty Raleigh: One common opponent - Webster County. The Highlanders' rallying cry, however, better not be, "Give me Liberty!'' Because they've lost four of six to those schools the past three seasons.
M - Martinsburg: Two-time defending Class AAA champion who brings a 28-game winning streak into the season. The Bulldogs are the fourth straight school to earn a repeat title in AAA, following Morgantown (2004-05), Parkersburg (2006-07) and South Charleston (2008-09), and look to become just the second team to win three straight since the AAA division began in 1958. Charleston High accomplished the feat 1968-70.