WHEELING - Fourteen weeks have passed since we kicked off that first football. The leaves were green, the temperatures sweltering, and state-title dreams were everywhere across our great state.
This weekend, though, only six West Virginia prep football teams are still chasing that dream that ultimately, only three will realize.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Super Six State Football Championships. The city of Wheeling is so very thankful that it can once again be your host, this season marking a much-deserved 19th at Wheeling Island Stadium.
There is plenty to do in our area, but first and foremost this weekend is about football. And man, do we have a trio of games for you.
Did you know that the six participants have a combined record of 75-3? Any idea how difficult it is to do anything 78 times while failing just three?
Anyway, here's a look at how I see the three title games going down, beginning with Friday night.
Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
No. 1 Wayne (13-0)
vs. No. 2 Keyser (12-1)
The top-ranked Pioneers are making their sixth appearance in Wheeling and are looking to go back-to-back after having won the title last season as a No. 6 seed. Wayne has been bitten by the injury bug of late and that includes Kennedy Award hopeful Brandon 'Bam Bam' Spurlock who sat out last week.
The Golden Tornado, who are making their first trip to the Northern Panhandle for championship weekend, are no slouches whatsoever.
They're led by hard-hitting linebacker Danny Fife and should be in this contest until the end.
Obviously the health of Spurlock is of great concern. He may not be very big, but Spurlock is a tough as they come and it is hard to imagine that he will miss a state title game.
PREDICTION: Wayne 28, Keyser 23.
No. 1 Cabell Midland (13-0)
No. 2 Martinsburg (12-1)
Another case of the new guard against the old. The second-seeded Bulldogs are looking to make history by becoming the second Class AAA school to win three consecutive crowns.
It appears, too, as those Martinsburg has the horses to accomplish the feat. Whether it's quarterback Justin 'Cookie' Clinton, receiver Cedric Brown, who is headed to Ohio University to play football, or the defense of linebacker Dildeep Dhatt, the Bulldogs are not hurting for weapons.
They'll face a rugged running attack by the Knights that includes a pair of backs that have run for more than 1,600 yards. Senior David Gaydosz, a Winfield transfer, has run for 2,200 yards and 26 touchdowns while fullback Lowell Farley is a hard guy to drag down.
The difference though, will be Clinton who is equally dangerous with his arms and feet.
PREDICTION: Martinsburg 34, Cabell Midland 12.
Saturday, 7 p.m.
No. 4 Madonna (12-1)
vs. No. 3 Wahama (13-0)
By going on the road and knocking off top-ranked Tucker County, the Blue Dons ensured that the OVAC would be represented in the Super Six for the ninth consecutive season.
The White Falcons surprised just about everyone but themselves by going to Magnolia and winning.
Wahama is going to try to run it down Madonna's throat with Zack Wamsley, last week's hero, among others. Several have tried this approach, none successfully.
The Blue Dons are going to counter with a balanced attack led by junior quarterback Ross Comis who is looking to join brother, Louis, who helped lead Madonna to a title in 2009 season.
PREDICTION: Madonna 24, Wahama 14.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net