Here's a question to disregard in the next two weeks, lest it rob you of the actual experience.
Is high school football the most exciting time of the prep sports year, or is the buildup just before the season begins even better?
Far be it from me, a lowly Preps Editor, to assert that high school sports have more of a following than golf in the Mountain State, but suffice it to say there's not even much banter around here this week about the British Open, whereas the appetite for high school football is seemingly never satisfied.
The 6th Annual Daily Mail Preseason All-State team will be announced just two weeks from today, ringing the opening bell on the 2013 campaign and, in turn, the 2013-14 scholastic sports year. Our annual special edition will also include an additional watch list of potential standouts, information on coaching changes throughout the state, returning statistical leaders from the 2012 season and more.
Practice begins across the state Aug. 5, with initial scrimmages scheduled for Aug. 17. The regular season starts Aug. 29, a Thursday night that will see at least two games played - South Charleston at George Washington and Cabell Midland at Riverside - with the possibility of a third - Tolsia at Wayne.
Fans and coaches alike will get a better idea of their teams' prospects between Aug. 5 and 29. Before then, as it's often said, hope springs eternal.
It could be argued that the dog days of summer are the best time of the year for a majority of the state's prep sports fans. News such as what came out of Buffalo last week, when standout running back/defensive back Laythen Good - a second team Class A All-State pick in 2012 and one of precious few Bison returning from last year's playoff team with any meaningful game experience - announced he had a torn ACL and would miss the season, are a rarity this time of year.
The internet has increased knowledge of teams across the state and for the most part heightened awareness of the sport. Still, there are always unknowns due to the ever-changing nature of high school rosters. What often results from the collision of those realities are claims of quarterbacks who, though previously unheard of in the statewide sense, throw such amazing passes that rainbows emanate from the throws, blinding defenders with the their sheer beauty, and things of that hyperbolic nature.
What is great about the season itself is that some of these claims come pretty close - at least in the analogical sense - to panning out. Others do not. Just like Christmas morning, we have to wait and see.
There are tidbits of information that trickle through during the offseason that can actually be verified, however. For instance, remember Scott running back Draven Riffe, a Class AA second team All-State pick in 2011 when he ran for 1,323 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore? Riffe transferred to Van prior to the start of last season but then suffered an ankle injury that kept him from ever suiting up for the Bulldogs.
He'll be in the George Washington backfield in 2013, where he will take the place of two-time Kennedy Award-winning running back Ryan Switzer.
The guy handing Riffe the ball is also a GW newcomer, but that's been known for some time. Senior Jon Alexander left South Charleston last year to attend Hargrave Military Academy, but has since returned to the Kanawha Valley and will run the Patriots' offense.