CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Donnie Mays has signed himself up for double duty, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
Mays, the first-year coach at South Charleston, will have his plate a little more full than most when high school football practice opens Monday around West Virginia.
He'll retain his duties as offensive coordinator for the Black Eagles' explosive attack, and tack on the role of head coach now that John Messinger has stepped down after seven seasons at SC.
"I'm still going to run the offense,'' Mays said. "We're still going to do what we've done since I moved to offensive coordinator under Coach Messinger [in 2008]. There will be very little change in our schematics on offense. Now on defense, we'll be a little different with coach Marc Wilson running the defense.''
Teams around the state can begin practicing Monday, but the first date for wearing pads without live contact is Friday. The first allowed date for live contact is Aug. 13, and the first scheduled participation in a scrimmage game or grid-o-rama is Aug. 17. The regular season kicks off the weekend of Aug. 29-31.
For Kanawha County teams, preseason drills will certainly look different this season.
Teachers (including coaches) report on Tuesday, and students come back Friday, which lessens the schedule of two-a-day workouts by as much as two weeks compared to previous seasons. Other counties begin the school year much later, like Putnam, where students report Aug. 22.
So Mays and his fellow Kanawha coaches will need to make the most of the time they have with their players during the next four weeks.
Mays doesn't think the extra workload of serving as head coach and offensive coordinator will affect anything at SC. Now, not only will he be the one deciding whether to go for it on fourth down, he'll be the one making the play call, too.
"The cool thing about Coach Messinger,'' Mays said, "is that he let me make a lot of those decisions. A lot of times I said, 'We need to go,' and he had no issues. He said to go for it. I've pretty much done those things that need to be done.
"When you line up and play football on Friday nights, it's not really coaching, because coaching is done throughout the week. You're just putting people in the right places [on Fridays]. If you try to coach Friday night, then you didn't do your job Monday through Thursday. I don't look at it like it's a difficult thing to do. A lot of successful guys have coached and called plays in the past - even on the college level, like Chip Kelly [at Oregon] and Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia.''
Mays will try to get the Black Eagles back to the playoffs after they finished 6-4 last year and, for a second straight season, just missed qualifying for the 16-team field, tying Logan for the No. 17 spot. It marked the first time a Mountain State Athletic Conference team earned six wins and did not make the AAA postseason since Nitro in 1999.
Three Kanawha Valley AAA teams that did make the playoffs last year are all hopeful again as the new season begins - George Washington, Capital and Hurricane.
GW reached the semifinal round before being erased by Martinsburg, which went on to down previously unbeaten Cabell Midland in the finals and capture a third straight AAA crown. Capital and Hurricane fell in the first round to Musselman and GW, respectively.