SC and GW, two major players in Class AAA in recent seasons, won't have long to figure out if they're playoff-worthy, since they tackle each other on the opening night of the season - Thursday, Aug. 29 - this time at Steve Edwards Sr. Field in South Hills.
Each team returns an experienced starting quarterback and, oddly enough, both earned their stripes at SC.
Jon Alexander, who started 14 games over two seasons for the Black Eagles (2011-12) and threw for more than 1,000 yards each year, has transferred to George Washington after a brief stint at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.
Alexander was replaced by freshman Kentre Grier at halftime of last year's game at Capital, and Grier led the Black Eagles to a rousing comeback victory. Grier started the final five games and threw for 1,549 yards and 17 touchdowns.
GW coach Steve Edwards Jr. doesn't think Alexander will have any problems preparing for or playing against his former teammates.
"He's seasoned,'' Edwards said. "He's very, very intelligent. That's just the way it fell. He'll be able to handle his emotions, I'm sure of that. He's just excited about the opportunity to play some football.''
The Patriots own the Kanawha Valley's longest current streak of reaching the playoffs at six years. In fact, only two other Valley teams own streaks of any kind - Hurricane and Class A Buffalo have qualified three consecutive times. For a second straight year, no AA team from the Valley made it in 2012.
Buffalo could be hard-pressed for a return trip, however, since it suffered probably the biggest injury during the preseason. Senior running back-receiver Laythen Good, perhaps the team's fastest player, tore the ACL in his right knee during the out-of-season practice period in June.
That comes on the heels of losing Levi Jordan, a four-year starter at quarterback.
"We knew coming in we were going to be young,'' said Bison coach Mike Sawyer. "We haven't had hardly any freshmen the last two years, and now I don't know how many seniors will be out. So we're reorganizing things.
"Having Laythen Good and Jordan Tucker at running back was going to be a big thing. Now we've lost one of those. You can't replace guys like that. You've got to hope somebody steps up, and you've got to make it happen elsewhere.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.