Traditions sometimes have a peculiar way of starting.
Take Man's recent ritual of beginning its preseason scrimmages by trekking to South Hills for a meeting with George Washington.
The Hillbillies line up against the Patriots for the eighth straight season when they meet at 10 a.m. today at GW's Steve Edwards Sr. Field. It's one of seven scrimmages set for today involving Kanawha Valley teams (see list, Page 2B).
To some, having a Class A team work out with a Class AAA opponent - and a top-notch AAA at that - could seem a less-than-ideal fit, but it's a matchup born out of necessity that has somehow endured.
Back in 2005, when the Mountain State Athletic Conference debuted its Grid-o-rama setup, having all the league schools compete in final scrimmages at Laidley Field, GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. found himself without a scrimmage for the first weekend, and had no prospects for one as preseason workouts loomed.
Then he had a chance meeting with Man coach Harvey Arms.
"They used to have a coaches clinic at Capital High School,'' Edwards said, "and I ran into Coach Arms there. I said, 'Coach, I heard you don't have a scrimmage. How would you like to come up to our place?'
"That's the first time I ever met the man. We sat down and ate brown beans and cornbread and that's what came out of it - a scrimmage game.''
It's hard to argue that the arrangement hasn't worked out for both sides.
Since they started scrimmaging to begin the season in 2005, GW has twice posted 10-0 regular seasons, twice earned the No. 1 Class AAA playoff seed and twice advanced to the Super Six finals in Wheeling. Man, meanwhile, played Madonna in the 2009 Class A finals and has also made several playoff appearances.
"We know they're a triple-A program and we're a single-A program,'' Arms said. "But one thing we want to see is how well do our players compete. We want to know: Will they fight? Will they battle?
"[George Washington's] a good team, and they'll let you know how you compete because they have a very good program, a great team every year. We feel that if we go over there and compete and play hard against them, then as the season goes along, we can make a big improvement.''
Of course, sometimes there are good matches when the teams square off, and sometimes there are mismatches. In last year's scrimmage, GW tailback Ryan Switzer touched the ball nine times and scored eight touchdowns.