Keyser releases updated 2020 football schedule

Staff Writer
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Mineral Daily News-Tribune

By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

As a result of things such as COVID-19 related rescheduling within the state of West Virginia, and of course the recent news that Maryland would be postponing their football season until most likely the spring, it was necessary to rework the Keyser football schedule for 2020.

Much of the reworking is done, all the phone calls made and returned, the dates shuffled, etc. With the hard work of re-working the schedule complete, Keyser High athletic director Shawn White has updated the WVSSAC website and given the green light for the release of the updated schedule.

The biggest change of course is that the three games against Allegany County opponents Fort Hill, Allegany and Mountain Ridge needed to be replaced. Keyser found replacements for those games with a trip to Oak Glen, and visits from both Washington and Jefferson.

It’s a nine-game slate that may or may not be extended to 10 games, and albeit for obvious and necessary reasons, consists entirely of West Virginia public schools. Currently, the schedule consists of six games against class AA opponents Berkeley Springs, Oak Glen, Nicholas County Point Pleasant, Petersburg and Frankfort, and class AAA opponents Washington, Hampshire and Jefferson.

Three of the opponents were playoff teams in the Mountain State a year ago, all three (Oak Glen, Nicholas County, Frankfort) in the class AA division.  In addition, five of the nine opponents appeared on Keyser’s 2019 schedule, with Oak Glen, Point Pleasant, Washington and Jefferson being the newest additions.

The Golden Tornado will open the season on Friday, Sep. 4, on the road at Berkeley Springs. The Indians finished the season with a record of 2-8 in 2019, losing to Keyser by a tally of 59-0. The Black and Gold have won 17 consecutive games against Berkeley Springs dating back to 1996, and have won the last four contests against the Indians by shutout, and by a combined score of 204-0.

The second game of the season will bring a much stiffer challenge for Keyser as the Golden Tornado travel to Oak Glen in the Northern Panhandle on Friday, Sep. 11. This will be the first meeting between the two schools. Oak Glen opened a lot of eyes last season, compiling an overall record of 12-1 and advancing all the way to the state-semifinals. In that semi-final game, the Golden Bears suffered their lone loss of the season, a 38-7 defeat at the hands of eventual state champions Bridgeport.

On Friday, Sep. 18, game number three will see Keyser hosting their first game of the season against Washington. Like with the Oak Glen game, this will be the first ever football meeting between the two schools.  Washington finished their AAA season with a record of 3-7 in 2019 and have struggled recently with six straight losing seasons. The Patriots last made the playoffs in 2013.

Game four is the second in a three-game stretch of home games as the Tornado host Nicholas County on Friday, Sep. 25.  Nicholas County completed an 8-3 season in 2019, advancing to a first-round playoff game only to lose at Frankfort 58-12.  Keyser defeated Nicholas County at Nicholas County in 2019 by a whopping score of 63-0.  Keyser leads the series all-time with the Grizzlies, with their first victory against Nicholas County (35-20) coming in the 1962 state championship game.

In game five on Friday, Oct. 2, Keyser will play host to neighbor and rival Hampshire.  Hampshire looks to rebound from a winless, 0-10 campaign in 2019.  A season ago, Keyser handled Hampshire at Hampshire by a score of 62-0.  Keyser leads the all-time series 39-17 and has won four- straight, 17 of the last 18, and 22 of the last 24 contests against the Trojans.  Hampshire last made the playoffs in 2013.

On Friday, Oct. 9, Keyser will take their longest road trip of the season in game six, a more than four-hour excursion to Mason County to take on Point Pleasant.  Point Pleasant finished the 2019 campaign with a 4-4 record.  Prior to that disappointing season, the Big Blacks had an impressive nine-season run from 2010-2018 that saw them win at least nine games seven times, and appear in the playoffs nine consecutive times, including a state championship game appearance in 2011.  It will be only the second meeting between the two schools, with Keyser defeating Point Pleasant in a 2009 playoff game 29-6.

Game seven will see the Golden Tornado hosting Jefferson on Friday, Oct. 16.  The Cougars are coming off of a 3-7 season in 2019.  The two schools have met 20 times with Keyser holding a 12-8 advantage all-time.  In fact, Keyser has actually won the last five contests between the two schools, with the latest matchup being a Keyser victory (31-24) in 2018.  Jefferson last made the AAA playoffs in 2016 where they advanced to the second round, losing to Capital, and finishing the season with a 6-6 record.

For game eight, Keyser will host PVC-opponent Petersburg for the 49th meeting ever between the two schools.  The Golden Tornado has a commanding 43-4-1 advantage in the series and won last year’s contest 59-0.  In fact, the Black and Gold has defeated Petersburg in 13 consecutive seasons.  The Vikings are looking to rebound from a 4-6 season in 2019 and are only two years removed from making the class AA playoffs.

For now, Keyser is off the weekend of Friday, Oct. 30, it may or may not stay that way.

For game nine, Keyser will face Frankfort in Short Gap for the traditional Mineral Bowl game. In 2019, Keyser defeated the Falcons 35-0 in a season in which both teams advanced to and fell in state quarterfinal games.  Frankfort finished 9-3 in 2019.  Keyser leads the series all time by a tally of 30-15 and have won five-straight, nine of the last 10, and 14 of the last 16 games in the series.  Frankfort has qualified for the playoffs the last two years, and in five of the last eight seasons as well.

It’s not the schedule it was when first announced.  Then again, is really anything the same these days?  It is, however, a solid and competitive schedule. No doubt traditional rivalry games between neighboring Allegany County schools Fort Hill, Allegany and Mountain Ridge will be missed. The addition of a very quality Oak Glen opponent makes for an excellent replacement for the lost Fort Hill game. The addition of AAA schools Washington and Jefferson more than adequately fills the loss of Allegany and Mountain Ridge, though there is much disappointment that the “granddaddy of them all” longest running area rivalry game between Keyser and Allegany will be disrupted.  

All in all, despite the multitude of challenges thrown their way, Keyser personnel have done an excellent job of piecing together a quality schedule for the roller coaster that is the 2020 season.