By Kyle Lovern
The regular season begins in the Mountain State tonight for high school football, while in the neighboring Bluegrass State they enter into week one.
Locally Belfry, Mingo Central and Tug Valley all open their seasons.
The Pirates will once again play host to the Community Trust/WYMT Pike County Bowl. This is the 30th annual event and Belfry has a tough task as they entertain Class 6A Henry Clay of Lexington.
Henry Clay has several experienced players returning and speed to burn. Many of their players are also track stars.
Coach Philip Haywood knows this will be a tough early test for his Pirates.
Mingo Central hits the road for its first game as they travel to take on Wyoming East. Both squads return several players from last year.
Both made the Class 2A playoffs the past two seasons. This will be a difficult matchup for the Miners. The game will start at 7:30 p.m.
Meanwhile Tug Valley will head of Corridor G and into rural Boone County to Seth to take on the Sherman Tide.
Both of these Class A squads struggled last season, but they are each much improved heading into the 2014 campaign.
The Panthers return several key starters and hope to improve on their 3-7 mark from 2013. This game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
Pike Central taking on Somerset in the first game of the Pike County Bowl at 6:05 p.m. The Belfry game will kickoff at 8:35 p.m.
In other games in the area involving regional teams Sheldon Clark at Prestonsburg, 7:35 p.m. will see Phelps at Betsy Layne, Man at Logan, Chapmanville at Sissonville, Herbert Hoover at Scott and Westside at Liberty Raleigh.
On Saturday in the Pike County Bowl at Pikeville, the Panthers will host Hazard in the nightcap at 8:35 p.m., while East Ridge battles Hurley, Va. at 6:05 p.m.
There are some big college games on Saturday that most local fans will be interested in. West Virginia will take on No. 2 Alabama in Atlanta in the Chic-fil-A Bowl at 3:30 p.m. in a nationally televised game on ABC. Marshall travels to Oxford, Ohio to take on an old MAC rival Miami of Ohio at 3:30 p.m., while Kentucky plays UT Martin in Lexington at 12 noon.
The University of Pikeville opened up at Bluefield, Va. taking on Bluefield College last night.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)