BETHANY - With most of his major role players gone from last season's unbeaten squad, Linsly coach B.J. Depew really didn't know what to expect from his team this fall.
He found out last Saturday.
Trailing by two scores, the Cadets went to the Wildcat and rallied past Magnolia, 21-20, during the final game of the McDonald's OVAC Kickoff Weekend at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Yes, the same Wheeling Island Stadium where the Cadets ended last season by thumping city rival Wheeling Central to finish 10-0.
Linsly will take an 11-game winning streak into Bison Stadium on Friday night where it will meet up with West Virginia Class AAA power Parkersburg South at 7 p.m.
''They're very solid,'' Depew said of the Wood County Patriots. ''They're a big, solid team ... a veteran team. We have a lot of respect for Coach (Jon) Bolen and his career speaks for itself. He has a good team and they're expecting big things. We know we'll have our hands full.''
Bison Stadium, which installed lights a few years ago, rarely plays host to prep contests. But when Linsly inquired about using the facility it was met with open arms.
Depew said South didn't want to play on a Saturday afternoon, which is what would have happened had the two teams met at Linsly's Lockhart Alumni Field.
So, with Wheeling Island Stadium already booked for Park's game against Bridgeport, Bethany seemed like the only other viable option.
''Bethany coach (and athletics director Tim) Weaver is very excited about people coming up to see the facility,'' Depew said. ''I think it's a win-win for everyone.''
Both teams are eager to play on the artificial surface and Depew is hoping his top offensive threat - Chinelo Oparanozie - finds it to his liking.
During last week's game at the island, Oparanozie, a 5-foot-8, 180-pound senior, exploded for 226 yards and all three Linsly scores on 26 carries. All told, he represented nearly 100 percent of the Cadets' offense.
''Chinelo provided the spark and everyone really followed him,'' Depew said.
Bolen was not only impressed with Oparanozie, but with the boys up front helping create holes for him.
''Their offensive line is tremendous,'' he said. ''They have a nice team and we'll have our work cut out for us. They beat a good team in Magnolia.''
While Depew was pleased with his ground game, he knows his offense needs more balance. Jameson Murray, in his first varsity start, failed to complete a pass.
''We had a tough time dealing with their defense,'' Depew said. ''We would like to make some strides toward balance. And it's not just the quarterback, it's a total team effort. We made our share of mistakes and we need to try to minimize those mistakes.''
While Murray struggled offensively, he put on a show defensively, picking up a sack and the game-saving interception. Dom Ellis paced the unit with 15 stops.
''We were really pleased with many different kids,'' Depew said.
South, ranked fifth in the latest state media poll, presents another challenge for the Linsly 'D.' The Patriots scored four times out of a possible five drives in surging to a 36-7 third-quarter lead against Ripley before hanging on 42-28.
''I was happy with most things,'' Bolen said. ''Tyler (Bolen) threw for 277 yards, most of it in the first half.
''But, we weren't pleased with the second half. We had some big breakdowns and we'll try to fix that this week.''
Jon Bolen said depth isn't one of team's calling cards. But it will be tested this week as the Patriots lost Christian Whitlatch to a broken leg during last week's game. Hunter Hamilton, another two-way player, was also hurt.
''Play in the secondary and blocking are two of the things we know we have to get better at,'' Jon Bolen said.