SHORT GAP - After an uncharacteristic three straight losing seasons, the Frankfort Falcons rebounded in a big way in the 2018 football season. With head coach Kevin Whiteman back at the helm, the Falcons not only converted those losing seasons into a winning season, but finished 8-3 and with an appearance in the West Virginia class AA playoffs.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
SHORT GAP - After an uncharacteristic three straight losing seasons, the Frankfort Falcons rebounded in a big way in the 2018 football season. With head coach Kevin Whiteman back at the helm, the Falcons not only converted those losing seasons into a winning season, but finished 8-3 and with an appearance in the West Virginia class AA playoffs.
While Frankfort would fall in the first round of the playoffs at Bridgeport (49-13), that 8-3 record and playoff appearance represented a “Phoenix rising from the ashes” turnaround for the Falcon program.  Like Keyser, Frankfort certainly graduated some key personnel from that turnaround season a year ago. Also like Keyser, however, the Falcons will enter the 2019 season with a laundry list of key returning starters with a year of success already under their belts.
A look ahead to that upcoming 2019 season can begin with a breakdown and analysis of Frankfort’s football schedule. Frankfort has scheduled eight in-state opponents and two from neighboring Maryland (Northern and Mountain Ridge). Of the eight West Virginia opponents, two are AAA (Washington, Hampshire); four are AA (Weir, Berkeley Springs, Petersburg, Keyser); and two class A (Moorefield, East Hardy). Three of Frankfort’s opponents made the playoffs a season ago.
As has been the case the last several year, Frankfort will open the season with back-to-back games against neighboring class A Hardy County opponents Moorefield and East Hardy. The Falcons open the season in week one with a trip to Moorefield. In week two, East Hardy will visit the Falcons in Short Gap.  
Both Moorefield and Easy Hardy fell on hard times last year with identical 2-8 records. Frankfort defeated Moorefield 42-0 and East Hardy 45-7 last year.  As recent as 2015, Moorefield went 11-2 with a state semifinal appearance; East Hardy is only two years removed from a 12-2 record and state title game appearance.
Frankfort made a significant move in the week three spot, replacing what was Smithsburg with a significantly stiffer challenge, a long road trip to take on the Weir Red Riders. Weir finished 10-3 a season ago, reaching the state semi-finals before falling to eventual state champion Fairmont Senior. This key week three matchup will have playoff ramifications no doubt for both teams. Along with Keyser, Weir most assuredly will be Frankfort’s stiffest competition.
Week four for the Falcons entails a home game against Berkeley Springs, a team that struggled mightily with a winless 0-10 record in 2018. The Indians will still be rebuilding in 2019.
Week five, Frankfort makes the trip to Half-Mile High Stadium to take on the Northern Garrett Huskies. A season ago, Frankfort defeated the Huskies in a close 14-6 contest in Short Gap. While Northern missed the playoffs a season ago with an uncharacteristic of late 3-6 record, coach Phil Carr always has his Huskies ready to play. Traditionally, Northern and Frankfort matchups are very competitive; before last season’s Falcon victory, Northern had won three straight over the Falcons.
Week six will see Frankfort return home to take on a Mountain Ridge squad that defeated Frankfort 27-21 a season ago in a thriller in Frostburg. The Miners finished the year with a 6-4 record and just narrowly missed the playoffs. Mountain Ridge has won four-straight over Frankfort.
Week seven for Frankfort is another home matchup, this time against the AAA Washington Patriots of Jefferson County. Frankfort defeated Washington a year ago in a high-scoring, 62-37 affair, with the cumulative point total nearly reaching 100. Washington went 0-10 a season ago. Frankfort has a record of 3-1 against Washington over the last four seasons.
Week eight will bring a road trip down through the South Branch Valley to Grant County to take on the Petersburg Vikings. Frankfort routed Petersburg 42-12 last year in Short Gap. This was a big win for Frankfort as Petersburg would finish the season 7-3 and make the class AA playoffs, falling to Nicholas County in the opening round. It also avenged a rough 48-7 loss to the Vikings in 2017. Petersburg graduated a very talented senior class, however, and will take the field in 2019 with a new head coach at the helm, as coach Kevin Board left Petersburg for a position in Ohio.
Week nine for Frankfort will be a home game against neighbor and rival Hampshire. Frankfort routed Hampshire 47-12 a season ago.  Frankfort has defeated Hampshire 11 times in their last 12 attempts.  The Trojans, 2-8 a season ago, have a new head coach in Aaron Rule, who most recently was an assistant for the Poca Dots. Despite Frankfort’s decided advantage in the season, it is a rivalry game no doubt and is generally very competitive.  
After Hampshire, Frankfort will enjoy their bye week as they get an extra week to prepare for in-county rival Keyser in the Mineral Bowl which, in 2019, will be played at Keyser. Keyser defeated Frankfort 27-13 in a muddy affair in Short Gap last season. Keyser would go on to finish the season 9-3 and advance all the way to the state quarterfinals, before falling at Bluefield. Both Keyser and Frankfort return a large group of talented, experienced players.
In 2018, Frankfort got back to their winning ways, winning eight regular season contests and advancing to the first round to the class AA playoffs.  The Falcons fell at Bridgeport, but Frankfort carries the momentum of their successful, turnaround season from a year ago into the 2019 campaign.