WHEELING - While growing up, and even still today to an extent, one of my major pet peeves was being told what to do by someone who has never been in my position. Having once been a kid myself, it's probably OK to hand out some unsolicited advice as youngsters throughout the Ohio Valley prepare to put on the pads and helmets for the first time this weekend.
Football is the ultimate life sport. It teaches an immeasurable number of lessons, but none more paramount than teamwork. With that in mind, here are a couple of things to remember:
Enjoy the challenge, do your best and let the chips fall where they may. If you can look yourself in the mirror - win or lose - following a game and say you gave it everything you had, you've already taken the first step toward achieving great things in this world.
Buckeye Local's Josten Dear figures to be an impact player this season.
In the age of social media your actions - good or bad - will be on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter for the world to see, before the final seconds of the game tick off the clock.
Now, let's get to the really good stuff. The following is my wish list/prediction for each area prep team during the upcoming season.
Barnesville: The only thing that can overshadow the Pumpkin Festival is a return to the playoffs by the Shamrocks. Sorry, Great Pumpkin, but you're second fiddle this season.
Beallsville: An all-state effort out of junior QB Teryn Jarrett would mean big things. Dave Caldwell is an offensive genius, and he has weapons aplenty.
Beaver Local: Un-Beaver-like seasons have become the norm lately. If a talented backfield, led by Jared Britt can stay healthy, they'll climb back above .500.
Bellaire: The surprise story of 2010, Jose Davis' club caught many off-guard. With a bullseye squarely on their back this time around, it will be tough to duplicate that success.
Bishop Donahue: When you lose the type of players the Bishops did, there's only one way to go and it's not good. But with Ollie Parker, Jordan Bonar and Cody Ballard primed to break out, another playoff date is in the cards.
Bridgeport: Speaking of teams that graduated a ton, Rudy Vavrock's Dogs are down to one Smelley and no Prices. Don't misunderstand, there's still talent. It's just not of the 10-0, 9-1 variety right now.
Brooke: Unfortunately, nobody is talking about a second straight title-game appearance, but rather the appearance of a lack of discipline the Bruins showed in their final game of 2010. That was an aberration, but the fact Brooke will have to claw its way back to the postseason is very real.
Buckeye Local: The one constant for the Panthers has been Josten Dear.
He battled injuries last season but is back to full health and will have a banner season.
Buckeye Trail: Ty Sichina is trying to get the Warriors back to prominence, but the schedule won't allow it just yet. An opener with Ridgewood followed by encounters with Barnesville, Bridgeport, Shenandoah, Linsly and Monroe Central, isn't conducive to sustained success.
Caldwell: The new coach, is the old coach. Josh Perkins is back at the helm, and 14 returning lettermen would suggest the Redskins will be in a battle for a playoff spot.
Cambridge: Dashawn Lewis returns for his senior season, and with him comes high expectations. Coach Rick Goodrich says the pressure is unfair, but the Bobcats will only go as far as Lewis takes them.
Cameron: The numbers and attitude are on the rise in Dragons Country. But a schedule that includes four 2010 playoff participants will scale the resurgence ever-so-slightly.
Conotton Valley: With only 22 players on the roster, health is going to be the major obstacle for first-year coach, and Conotton Valley graduate, Mike Bigler.
East Liverpool: With QB Marky Thompkins suffering through a mysterious illness during camp, his status, and that of his team, was in limbo. Arguably the valley's top athlete, any team would be crippled by the loss of a player his caliber.
Edison: After just missing the postseason party a season ago, Mike McKenzie's Cats appear primed to scratch that itch. A roster that's 72 deep, including only 19 freshmen, will be led to the playoffs by QB Mark Smyth.
Fort Frye: The Cadets have steadily climbed into the playoff picture on the back of senior experience. They don't have a lot of that this year, as a roster of 22 indicates. Perhaps a small step back is in the offing.
Frontier: A coach never wants to enter a season with one of a possible 22 starters returning. Todd Bradford is meeting that job head-on, and he'll lean heavily on new QB Jordan Jefferson.
Harrison Central: With so many big-name players having picked up their diplomas around the valley, the area is starved for star power. Nobody will shine brighter than Huskies RB Maurtice Hython.
Hundred: Rex Rush is excited about his team's numbers - 28 strong, with most falling in the underclassmen category. That bodes well for the future, but the present will be a challenge.
Indian Creek: Led by a veteran offensive line, Coach Andrew Connor's team has chance to break down the postseason door. Early success should rest on the arm of David Kemp.
John Marshall: The talent has been there, but the results have not. With a schedule that's bottom-loaded, Week 11 is probably a long shot. But this group of seniors can be the one that started the turnaround.
Linsly: Will the Cadets be able to shake the hangover that resulted from allowing 19 points to Wheeling Central in the final 11:20 of last season's finale? Linsly can't partake in the playoffs, but will likely be the best small school team around this season.
Magnolia: How you go from winning a state title to having only 29 players the next season, is beyond me. But that is the hand Mark Batton was dealt. Jayson Keller is going to have to carry the load from the tailback spot.
Martins Ferry: You want a breakout star for this season? Take a look at the Purple Riders' Tyrel Simmons, who is poised for a gigantic season running the football.
Meadowbrook: Quarterback Trey Pugh may be the most exciting OV player you've never heard of. That being said, the Colts are still a couple years away.
Monroe Central: After winning The Intelligencer's Sophomore of the Year two seasons ago, Tyler Kinchen looks ready to take the Seminoles on a deep playoff run.
Morgantown: John Bowers says this is his most talented team since 2004, and that's saying something. With Class AAA looking like it is going to be down this season, Morgantown is the only team that stands a chance to unseat Martinsburg, which is again loaded.
Oak Glen: There's no greater motivation for a team than barely missing the playoffs. The Golden Bears have that, plus a ton of talent. They'll be our best W.Va. Class AA team this season.
Paden City: If experience means anything in football, look for the Wildcats to take a jump forward. Brent Croasmun has an unusually high 12 seniors in tow, so they're thinking big.
Parkersburg South: The Patriots missed out on the postseason after being beaten at home by John Marshall in the finale. The good news is, not many people are still around to carry that baggage. The bad news is, that means South is young.
River: Having won three games in the last two seasons, Mike Flannery is in a bad mood. That generally means good things for his clubs. The Pilots are on the rise and should hover around .500.
Shadyside: The hardest team to predict because even Mark Holenka thought the Tigers would be so-so last season, and we know how that turned out. With that being said, there will be a dropoff. But to what extent, I can't say for sure.
Shenandoah: With quarterback Eli Hurst back to positive health, Coach Tim Wilson says he's going to open up the offense. How quickly the club catches on will determine the Zeps' fate.
St. Clairsville: When there's a Kinnick at the helm, and in this case it's Matt, good things tend to happen. Following an opening-round home playoff loss, the Red Devils must re-establish themselves.
St. John: The Fighting Irish are coming along slowly, but surely. Coach Paul Rose ramped up the intensity in the weight room, and it could pay dividends because St. John ran out of gas in the second half numerous times last season.
Steubenville: For the first time in a while, Big Red has to rebuild (or reload, depending upon how you look at it). While it won't lack for talent, don't expect this to be a dominating Steubenville squad. So that probably means around 7-3.
Steubenville Catholic: If I am understanding it correctly, new Coach Steve Daley has installed a spread offense much like the one WVU used to run. If that's the case, look for some high-scoring outputs by the Crusaders.
Toronto: The obvious question here, is how do you get through the first part of the schedule intact? If the Red Knights can do that, expect big things from a club that will hand the ball off to Tony McGhee frequently.
Tyler Consolidated: Another season, another brutal set of opponents for the Silver Knights. Coach Rob Caldwell's charges won their final three games last season, but will be hard pressed to keep that going.
Union Local: Thanks to injuries, the Jets never got de-iced last season. After suffering through a 1-9 campaign, Mark Cisar has a lot of talent to replace, which won't be easy.
University: The Hawks pointed to last year for a major run that never materialized. There's not much experience back outside of QB Travis Maraney and WR Deion Cunningham, so growing pains are likely in store.
Valley: The Lumberjacks are ready to start chopping foes down again. With Casey Pingley toting the football, the sky is the limit.
Weir: There's a new coach in town, and with him comes a new attitude. But at least initially, I don't know if that will translate to many victories.
Weirton Madonna: I want to know where I can find a job like the one Doug Taylor is stepping into. He replaces Bob Kramer, who left the cupboards overflowing with talent. The Blue Dons have a real a shot to win their second title in three seasons.
Wellsville: The perpetually young Tigers are going to have trouble with a schedule that potentially features one road block after another.
Wheeling Central: The Maroon Knights don't figure to be the Maroon Knights this season, in part because of heavy graduation losses. But the schedule was dialed down a notch and they should be in the thick of things by the middle of October.
Wheeling Park: Are you ready for this? OK, here it goes: The Patriots will be the Ohio Valley's premier football team this season. Yeah, I said it. Lee Peluchette gives them a dimension they haven't had, and the return of Lee Mendenhall is monumental. All of this on the 20th anniversary of the Patriots' lone title-game appearance.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at: Rine@theintelligencer.net