CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Opening night is different than any other game played the rest of the season.
Of course, every high school football team goes into its opener undefeated, and most are chock full of optimism regarding their upcoming season.
But often overlooked is the fact that - if a team really wanted - it could spend an entire month of preseason drills working toward that first opponent. The most time you can spend on anyone after that is two weeks, depending on where your bye week falls.
In that respect, George Washington and South Charleston appear to have taken different approaches to their mutual opener, a clash of Class AAA playoff hopefuls set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Steve Edwards Sr. Field in South Hills.
"We've been working on [South Charleston] since our first day of practice,'' said GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. "Everybody takes different approaches, and it's not every year we've done that, but this year we've worked on what we needed to do for when we play our first ballgame.''
Kanawha County teams saw their overall practice time cut down this year since students reported for classes on Aug. 9, just four days after preseason workouts began. That all but eliminated two-a-day drills, a staple for teaching fundamentals and a process that allowed players more repetitions.
"We didn't do it like everybody else,'' Edwards said, "because we didn't have the luxury to spend much more time on other things. We were cramped for time. So we just prepared basically for what we needed to do to get better and prepare for our next opponent, which is South Charleston.''
First-year SC coach Donnie Mays, however, felt like his preseason preparation time would be better served dealing with his own players rather than his opening opponent. So the Black Eagles didn't start tinkering with the GW game plan until recently.
"The way we took it,'' Mays said, "is that we basically worried about ourselves. We spent the majority of the June session and the first few weeks of August focusing on what we need to do.