GHENT, WV (WVNS) – One thing that makes High School football in this area unique is the fact that, for many teams, week one is rivalry week.
While many schools around the country wait until the end of the season to play their biggest game, around here bragging rights are on the line right from the season’s opening kick.
In the nationally renowned Graham-Beaver game, the bloodlines run deep on both sides.
“There’s spouses, husbands and wives that went to opposite schools,” said Graham Head Coach Tony Palmer. “That’s what happens when you live in twin cities like Bluefield, Virginia and Bluefield West Virginia. Then you may have parents that both went to Graham but their son goes to Bluefield.”
That’s the case again this year, as all-state Bluefield Wide Receiver R.J. Hairston will see a very familiar face on the Graham sideline.
“My step-dad is actually a coach over there!” Hairston told 59News.
But it’s not just the two Bluefields where bragging rights are on the line this week.
This Friday in Welch, it’s also the Battle of the Views, a day many consider one of the biggest of the year in McDowell county.
“It means a lot,” said River View Defensive Lineman Hayden Jones. “It’s a county rivalry. Hard game most of the time, but this year I believe we’ve got it. We’re a better team.”
“They’re going to be a better team. They’re going to be a worthy opponent. I will never discredit them, they have a great football tradition over there. But we’ve got to do things the Mount View way,” said Golden Knights Head Coach Maurice Gravely.
In Wyoming County, Wyoming East is seeking revenge for last year’s defeat to their bitter rivals, Westside.
But for both the Warriors and Renegades alike, it’s the game where the community goes all out to back their team.
“It’s a big deal. Always,” said Westside Head Coach Justin Cogar. “For both sides of the county it’s a major turnout and it’s always a competitive game regardless of the two teams.”
“It’s the biggest rivalry in the state, I think!” said Wyoming East Wide Receiver Brayden Huff. “Especially the football game, the feeling before it. I mean, yeah of course it’s always been a big rivalry. After the game you know you’ve got some buddies on the field, but during the game you’re not so much buddies.”
A year’s worth of bragging rights are on the line in lots of our local communities this week.