While other teams around West Virginia take the field and play games in about a month, Point Pleasant sits and waits its turn.
And while other schools revel in the support shown by students and hometown fans filling the stands, Point Pleasant doesn’t get to play a home game until Sept. 27.
That’s apparently the price of success for the Big Blacks, who for the third time since 2014 play just a nine-game regular-season schedule. Only this time the two-week absence comes at the beginning of the season, meaning Point doesn’t start until Sept. 13 at Gallia Academy (Ohio), and doesn’t get a home date until Sept. 27 against Bishop Sycamore from Columbus, Ohio.
“It is what it is,’’ said Big Blacks coach David Darst. “It’s hard to control a schedule when you’re not in a conference. It’s just what we’ve gotten used to. We don’t get too many calls from double-A teams in our state to play — and if I do, it’s Bluefield.
“The only disadvantage is going to be that the first team we play is going to have two games under their belt. We could still have some first-game jitters. Who knows?’’
At the other end of that equation, Point Pleasant does get a few extra weeks to work out the kinks before it plays a real game. The Big Blacks haven’t been bothered by two-week layoffs in the past, but they came after the season had already kicked off.
Last year, Point started 5-0 before it had two straight bye weeks. In 2014, the Big Blacks roared out of the gates 9-0, then sat idle the final two weekends of the regular season. Fast starts are sort of the norm for the Mason County program, which is 83-13 in all games since 2011.
Darst said he and his coaches “haven’t really discussed’’ the delayed opening to the season with their players.
“But we do have six home games,’’ Darst said, “so that is an advantage for us.’’
Those six home games all come in a row between Sept. 27 and Nov. 1, and include dates with two state playoff teams from last season in Class AA Bluefield (12-2) and AAA Ripley (9-2). Another big challenge, Darst said, comes in an Oct. 18 home game with Louisville, Ohio, from outside Canton.
Point Pleasant returns several experienced players in key positions, including running back-defensive back Brady Adkins (5-foot-10, 178 pounds), who flashed some varied skills last year. He ran for 1,091 yards and 15 touchdowns, going over the 100-yard mark six times. He also caught 25 passes for 400 yards and three more scores.
“He’s turned into a nice little running back for me,’’ Darst said. “He’s probably got a little bit more versatility to him than other backs I’ve had. The kid catches the ball extremely well. We use him a lot out of the backfield. We do a lot of things with him out there. We’ll use him as much as we need to use him.’’
Of course, the Big Blacks will be minus a four-year starter at quarterback in Cason Payne, who helped them to 41 wins in 48 games starting in 2015. His replacement will be junior Hunter Bush (6-2, 185), who led the basketball team in scoring last winter at 19.1 points per game.
“We’re pretty high on the kid,’’ Darst said of Bush. “He’s got a nice arm on him. He played [junior varsity] for us last year and got a lot of reps.’’
Some other key players for Point this year will be linemen Jacob Muncy, Nate Barth and Ryan Duff and running back Nick Parsons.