SUNRISE SUMMIT – After hurricane Covid blew away the original schedule for 2020, Hampshire athletic director Trey Stewart scrambled each week to find winnable games using the WVDE color map as a guide.
Untraditional opponents including Buckhannon-Upshur, Brooke, East Fairmont and Moorefield competed against the Trojans in 2020 with Hampshire hosting 6 out of 10 games.
Let’s hope 2021 offers some more stability in terms of the football schedule.
After the schedule was unveiled last week, Coach Aaron Rule was pleased with what he saw, especially since Hampshire will be hosting 6 games once again in 2021.
“6 home games will give us a huge advantage,” said Rule.
“Hopefully, we will be able to pack the stands. I want the stands full not only with parents, grandparents, significant others, but the student body needs to be here as well. Our student-athletes are teaming with some teachers and myself in our building to create what we feel will be an awesome game day experience. It should present a new feel and bring back the Hampshire brand that once roamed these hallways and inside this community.”
Some unfamiliar opponents have been added to the schedule as well including Park View (Va.), and Greenbrier East.
Coach Rule talked about playing against nontraditional opponents.
“I was excited last season to play the Brookes, Buckhannon Upshurs, East Fairmonts, and Moorefield,” said Rule.
“The kids are able to play someone they haven’t played before and maybe the pregame mindset of what has happened in the past will be wiped away from their memory since we will be playing teams they have never played before. The biggest challenge will be coming up with game film on our opponents to get an idea of what they have done in the past.”
The season kicks off with Preston paying a visit to Sunrise Summit on Aug. 27. The Knights are a traditional opening day opponent as the 2 teams have squared off in the 1st week of the season for 13 years in a row prior to the 2020 cancelation.
Hampshire has a 7-10 all-time record against Preston with the most recent win coming in 2017, a 27-12 victory at Rannells Field.
While the 2 schools didn’t play an official game last year, they did play a scrimmage that was evenly played.
The game Coach Rule has circled as the most important for the 2021 season, is the 1st game of the season.
“Week 1 versus Preston,” confirmed Rule.
“That is the first game we need to win in order to go 1-0 each and every week. We win that game and our kids will have the confidence to start off Week 2 and work towards going 1-0 again.”
Perhaps the hardest part of the schedule starts in week 2 with a road trip to Short Gap. The Trojans look to avenge a 36-0 loss last season against a physical Falcon squad that was primed to make a deep run in the class AA playoffs before their season was shut down due to Covid. The Falcons went 7-1 last season with their only loss to Washington 20-19.
Frankfort has an all-time record of 33-12 against Hampshire winning 13 of the last 14 games.
It doesn’t get much easier in week 3 as the Trojans welcome Spring Mills to Rannells Field. The Cardinals dismantled Hampshire 55-7 last season behind the heroics of QB Kean-Padmore Johnson who was responsible for 7 touchdowns. Luckily for HHS, Johnson has graduated which should make this game more winnable for the Green and White.
Week 4 features the longest road trip of the season, a journey to Sterling, Va. Good news for the Trojans, the Park View Patriots haven’t won a varsity football game since Sept. 16 of 2016. In 2020, Park View didn’t play a game. In 2019, the Patriots went 0-10. In 2018, Park View did not field a varsity football team. In 2017, the Patriots went 0-10. In 2016, Park View finished with a 2-8 overall record.
The Trojans play familiar foe Keyser in week 5 and look to knock off the Golden Tornado for the 1st time since the 17-14 “Mud Bowl” victory in 2015.
Week 6 might be the most important week on the schedule, as it features a bye.
“I love the fact that we were able to work a bye week somewhere in the middle of our schedule this year,” Rule stated.
“We were working hard to get it somewhere around week 5-8 and it just worked out to where we could get it at Week 6. In the past I’ve always had week 11 as the bye and you can prepare for the playoffs, but this year I wanted something different so hopefully this is to our advantage. I also love the flow of home-away at the top of our schedule and then the 3 home games to finish the season.”
The schedule appears to get slightly easier starting in week 7 as the Trojans head to Grant County to play against Petersburg. Although the Vikings came out on top last year 39-25, the game was closer than the final score suggests.
Week 8 is the final away game of the year, as a trip to Berkeley Springs is on the docket. The Indians squeaked out a win last year at Rannells Field 41-34, but the Trojans have a significant advantage in the all-time series with a 21-6 record.
The biggest surprise of the schedule is week 9 when Greenbrier East pays a visit to the Potomac Highlands. This will be the 1st ever meeting between the 2 schools.
Athletic director Trey Stewart shed some light on why Greenbrier East was added to the schedule.
“Due to the fact Mountain Ridge is no longer a WV equivalent class AAA, we would have been ineligible for the playoffs if the Miners remained on the schedule.”
In order for the Trojans to remain eligible for the postseason, Hampshire needed to have 6 class AAA teams on the schedule.
Last season the Spartans posted a 5-4 record but did not participate in the playoffs.
The Washington Patriots come to Sunrise Summit in week 10 after knocking off Hampshire 42-7 in 2020.
The final game of the regular season will be a home game against Hedgesville on Nov. 5.
This game may determine whether Hampshire can clinch a playoff berth and the recent history of Hedgesville makes that outcome favorable for the Trojans.
The last time Hedgesville won a football game was in 2018. In 2019, the Eagles went 0-10 and in 2020 they were 0-7. Hedgesville was shut out in 5 out of 7 games scoring a total of 10 points the entire season. The Eagle defense struggled just as much as the offense giving up a total of 369 points, for an average of 52.7 points per game.
“The 2 years I was here as an assistant under Coach Grace I was able to coach against Hedgesville, so I know what type of student-athletes they have,” explained Rule.
“They have a new head coach now though, but I don’t see anything different other than we need to line up and execute in every facet of the game.”
After a season of unknowns and challenges in terms of schedule changes in 2020, the 2021 schedule looks bright for the Trojan program. o
2021 Hampshire Trojan Football Schedule
Aug 27 Preston Home
Sep 3 Frankfort Away
Sep 10 Spring Mills Home
Sep 17 Park View (Va.) Away
Sep 24 Keyser Home
Oct 8 Petersburg Away
Oct 15 Berkeley Springs Away
Oct 22 Greenbrier East Home
Oct 29 Washington Home
Nov 5 Hedgesville Home
(7 p.m. Kickoff)
Aug 13 James Wood Away
Aug 20 Southern Garrett Home
(6 p.m. Kickoff)