CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Will Martinsburg roll to a third consecutive Class AAA football state championship, equaling a feat accomplished only by the Charleston High School teams from 1968-70?
Will Wayne capture back-to-back Class AA titles for the first time in that highly successful program's history? Will a No. 10 seed keep Wheeling Central from winning a third Class A title in a row?
Questions will begin to receive some answers this week, when the West Virginia high school football playoffs get under way.
In the meantime, here's a quick guide at what we could see develop over the next month.
The top seed: Cabell Midland
The favorite: No. 2 Martinsburg
The dark horse: No. 7 Capital
The skinny: Class AAA is the most wide-open of the three championship races, which is unusual. Typically Class AA is the most unpredictable.
Cabell Midland is the only unbeaten team in the field, but has never played for a state title. Although the Knights have enjoyed regular season success in the past - under coaches other than current boss Luke Salmons - those teams have traditionally fallen short of their seed in the postseason. They will have to break that negative tradition to win the school's first football crown.
Two-time defending champion Martinsburg, at 9-1, therefore remains the favorite. Still, the past decade has seen a string of back-to-back winners (Morgantown, Parkersburg and South Charleston did it in consecutive fashion before the Bulldogs' current run) but none could win three in a row. The Bulldogs will be fighting the odds in that respect.
Otherwise, a team that more closely resembles Coach Dave Walker's teams from the early-to-middle part of the decade - heavy on speed and skill while playing good enough defense to win - still has home-field advantage throughout the preliminary rounds. Junior quarterback Justin "Cookie" Clinton is a more athletic player than his predecessor, Brandon Ashenfelter, and is as likely to beat teams with his feet as with his arm. When he does throw, he has Ohio University commitment Cedric Brown to throw to.
Home field advantage comes in handy during the quarterfinal round particularly, when - if higher seeds advance - Capital would make a trip to Berkeley County. The Cougars' (7-3) resume from the past month might be the field's most impressive outside the top two seeds.
Capital led Midland in the fourth quarter on Oct. 12, handed No. 3 seed George Washington its worst loss in five years Oct. 19, blasted No. 16 seed Beckley Oct. 26 and then put 48 points on No. 4 seed Huntington last Friday after the Highlanders had surrendered just 79 points in their first nine games.
"From what I've heard from people that have seen them both is that Capital's a lot like Martinsburg," said Musselman Coach Denny Price, whose team visits University of Charleston Stadium for a first-round game against the Cougars on Friday.
"We had trouble with Martinsburg, so I think we're going to have our work cut out for us."
Martinsburg beat Musselman 73-0 in Martinsburg two weeks ago.
Morgantown and GW, seen as early front-runners for the title, are also legitimate contenders. The playoffs mark the curtain call of a remarkable prep career by Patriots senior Ryan Switzer, who celebrated his 18th birthday Sunday. The North Carolina commitment and 2011 Kennedy Award winner finished his final regular season with 1,971 rushing yards and 30 total touchdowns (25 rushing).
The top seed: Wayne
The favorite: Wayne
The dark horse: Wayne