KEYSER - After a successful season a year ago that saw Keyser reach the quarter finals of the state playoffs, Golden Tornado fans are looking forward to similar results in 2019. While they suffered a few key losses to graduation, the stable is full with a large nucleus of returning players.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER - After a successful season a year ago that saw Keyser reach the quarter finals of the state playoffs, Golden Tornado fans are looking forward to similar results in 2019. While they suffered a few key losses to graduation, the stable is full with a large nucleus of returning players.
Looking ahead always begins with a look at the season’s upcoming schedule. All football schedules have been posted to the WVSSAC website, so analysis and planning can begin for Keyser’s football crazed fans.
At first glance, Keyser’s schedule certainly passes the eye test. There are key matchups, home and away, that will entertain fans, but more importantly prepare and position the team for a potential playoff run.
The Golden Tornado have scheduled eight opponents from inside West Virginia, with Allegany and Mountain Ridge hailing from Maryland. Of Keyser’s ten opponents, six of the ten competed in the West Virginia AA state playoffs last year. That number of playoff teams, in general, could have easily been seven if not for Keyser’s overtime victory over Mountain Ridge, bouncing the Miners from the playoffs. With six playoff teams on the schedule, nobody can accuse coach Sean Biser and the Golden Tornado with choosing the path of least resistance.
Keyser jumps out of the gate with a tough road trip to Clarksburg to battle Robert C. Byrd. The Eagles defeated Keyser 20-14 a year ago, and finished the season with a 9-3 record, falling to Bridgeport 42-7 in the state quarter finals. The load lessens in week two as the Black and Gold host Berkeley Springs; the Indians were winless in 2018 and will again be in a state of rebuilding.
Week three brings a trip to Grant County to take on a Petersburg squad coming off a 7-3 season that saw them reach the playoffs for the first time in many years. The Vikings, however, lost a deeply talented senior class to graduation and their coach, Kevin Board, who left for new challenges in Ohio.
Week four brings the talented and tough Weir Red Riders to Keyser. A season ago the Golden Tornado pulled off a huge, come-from-behind 41-40 victory at Weir. Weir would advance all the way to the state semi-final, where they lost to eventual state champion Fairmont Senior, and finished with a record of 10-3.
Week five brings with it a long trip to Summersville to take on a Nicholas County Grizzlies football program who reached the state quarter finals a year ago. Nicholas County fell to Weir but finished the season with an impressive 11-1 record.
Week six entails traveling over to Sunrise Summit to take on neighbor and rival AAA Hampshire. In Hampshire, Keyser faces an opponent with a new head coach, Aaron Rule, who was most recently an assistant coach to the Poca Dots. Following the Hampshire game, Keyser enters their bye week.
Game number seven brings this year’s version of the oldest rivalry in the area, with Keyser hosting the Allegany Campers. Allegany finished a disappointing 4-5 a year ago, including a 33-20 loss to Keyser, but the Campers are primed to return to their winning ways.
Game eight brings the toughest road test of the season with a trip to Bridgeport.The Indians defeated Keyser last year 28-19 in route to an 11-2 season. Bridgeport fell to Bluefield 35-14 in the state semi-finals, a week after Bluefield defeated Keyser. Bridgeport is Bridgeport, they are always the most formidable of foes.
Game number nine pits neighbors Keyser and Mountain Ridge against each other in Keyser. Last year’s thriller between the two, a 35-34 overtime victory for Keyser, was on for the ages. Everything had fallen into place for Mountain Ridge to make the Maryland single A playoffs, until the Miners were denied by Keyser. Mountain Ridge finished with a 6-4 record against what was the area’s toughest schedule on paper, and will be looking for some payback.
The final game of the regular season is the Mineral Bowl between Keyser and Frankfort. This year’s edition will be played in Keyser. A season ago, Keyser defeated Frankfort in Short Gap, 27-13. The Falcons finished 8-3, and made the playoffs after three straight losing seasons. Frankfort fell at Bridgeport 49-13 in the first round of the playoffs with Coach Kevin Whitemen back at the helm. Frankfort returns a large number of key starters from that playoff team a year ago.
Keyser’s philosophy has always been to schedule tough to test their mettle and prepare for playoff competition. With six West Virginia AA playoff teams from a year ago on the schedule, it’s clear to see that philosophy is being maintained. Add to that list local rivals like Allegany, Mountain Ridge, and Hampshire and it’s safe to say Keyser will have to come ready to play, week in and week out. Coach Sean Biser will no doubt have his team ready to compete, and if history is any indicator, the Black and Gold will build on their track record of success and playoff appearances. One thing is for sure, the price of admission every week will bring maximum bang for your entertainment buck.

Frankfort’s 2019 football schedule will be analyzed next week.