[cleeng_content id="443014693" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Patriots, Cougars open vs. Hedgesville, Spring Mills
CHARLES TOWN — Washington needs to find enough playmakers on a team that has 21 seniors. Jefferson needs to mine some wins from a schedule that gives first-year head coach Craig Hunter some room to get through the usual early-season refinements that are necessary.
Coach Mark Hash’s Patriots were 3-7 last year.
Jefferson was 1-9 last year and hasn’t found a season with more than a single win since 2009.
Hedgesville comes to Washington at 7 p.m. on Friday on the heels of its own 3-7 season in 2012. The Eagles had a skeleton crew of players and even had to cancel their jayvee season. Coach Rich Thomaselli, coming into his fourth season on Ridge Road, has cancelled the 2013 jayvee schedule as well.
Spring Mills and its team of freshmen, sophomores and juniors visits Shenandoah Junction at 7 p.m. on Friday. It will be the school’s first-ever football game after it opened its doors for the first time on Aug. 19.
The Cardinals have no senior class this year after accepting the vast majority of their students from Hedgesville High and Hedgesville Middle School and a small portion from North Martinsburg Middle School and Martinsburg High.
Derek Munson is the Spring Mills’ coach. He has been an assistant at both Berkeley Springs and Hedgesville.
Washington fields its sixth football team since opening in 2008. The Patriots will be looking for their first winning season.
Colin Gustines is a four-year starter. Dante Washington was a starting running back last year and Derrick Brunson, Patric Baylor, Zane Bradbury, Bryan Bayliss and Kyle Athey are other seniors returning to the offense.
Kendell Smith presents a tall and athletic wide receiver for any defense to cover.
Washington’s most experienced linemen are Cody Armel, Connor Holmes and Reid Lehman — another trio of seniors. Travis Penwell gives the Patriots another experienced player.
After seeing Hedgesville this week, Washington will visit Spring Mills next week before reaching the meat of its schedule beginning with Sherando, Handley and Martinsburg.
Coach Hunter at Jefferson inherits a program that has gone through three consecutive 1-9 seasons. He had a taste of being in charge last season when Coach Richard Mills was temporarily suspended.
Andrew King was the 2011 starter at quarterback, but will have a new group of wide receivers this year. A. J. Pierson could be the Cougars’ most trusted runner as well as a starting linebacker.
Tanner Cantrell was a starter with the 2011 team and junior Will Ransom was at linebacker. Cornell Holt and Chandler Lewis give Hunter a pair of linemen who are likely starters.
Justin Bolden could play a significant role this season as might sophomore Jalon Smith.
The Cougars have a second straight home game on Sept. 6 when Mountain Ridge (Md.) comes to Shenandoah Junction. Jefferson’s one win in 2012 was against the Miners from Frostburg.
Enthusiasm is sure to be on display for Friday’s opener. New head coach. New season. Wipe away all vestiges of the last three seasons. Spring Mills seems to be the perfect team to begin a turnaround against.
After Spring Mills and Mountain Ridge, the Jefferson schedule has Hampshire, Musselman, Sherando, Millbrook, Keyser and Martinsburg.
Could both schools open with 2-0 records? Spring Mills, Hedgesville and Mountain Ridge will be a part of deciding that answer.