TENNERTON – The Buckhannon-Upshur Athletic Department recently released the 2020 football schedule and it shows one major change on it from last year.
The Bridgeport Indians will return to the schedule after a one-year absence replacing the Class AAA Brooke Bruins.
The Indians will now be a Class AAA opponent for the Bucs this season after moving up a class this year from Class AA.
Bridgeport is coming off a 2019 season where they defeated Bluefield for the Class AA title with a 13-1 record.
The addition of Bridgeport will certainly make the Bucs’ schedule tougher this season as Brooke, who is leaving the schedule, finished 3-7 last year.
“We felt Bridgeport would probably wind up being a AAA team for this season, so that really came as no surprise for the coaching staff,” remarked Buckhannon-Upshur head football coach Duane Stoeckle. “Bridgeport is always a quality opponent. We have a long history of competing against them. We are both in the same conference (Big 10), we are both AAA, and we are close to each other geographically, so it makes sense to play them. With that being said, there are a lot of people who are saying they may be even stronger this year. Losing Brooke off the schedule will hurt some. We had split our four games with them those games were always competitive, so we will miss them on the schedule a little bit.”
The Bucs will once again have a balanced schedule in 2020 with five home games (Ripley, Philip Barbour, Greenbrier East, Bridgeport, Elkins) and five road games (Fairmont Senior, John Marshall, Lewis County, University, Preston).
“Financially, it helps to have the five home games,” stated Stoeckle. “I know our athletic director Rick Reynolds likes that part. Football is the biggest revenue generating sport at the high school and it helps to pay the bills for all our Buckhannon-Upshur athletic teams. So, having five home games and sometimes six is very beneficial financially. Besides the finance part, it is so much nicer for the players and coaches to play at home in front of our fans as much as possible.”
In an effort to play as many Class AAA teams as possible, long road trips for the Bucs have become the norm after the recent realignment dropped a lot of local teams to Class AA.
The Bucs will have a more manageable road schedule this year with just one trip over an hour and that is the visit to Moundsville for the John Marshall game.
“We are getting used to taking those long trips, that’s for sure,” noted Stoeckle. “We have a pretty good system down now of how we make our long trips. First the players must have the right mindset to be successful on the road. They have to kind of be road warriors. Second, we do not stop at restaurants to eat. When I was an assistant coach, we stopped at restaurants to eat and it seemed the players would always overeat, and we’d be too sluggish at game time. So, we decided to use rest areas. Two of my assistants, Dave Lewellyn and Buffy Johnson travel around the state quite a bit and know where the best rest areas are to stop and eat. Our boosters do a great job of transporting food and meeting us at those rest areas. I think it has helped us be a little more successful on long road trips, as we have won at Princeton, Lincoln County, Hampshire, Greenbrier East, Brooke and Preston.”
For now, Stoeckle and his staff will play the waiting game to see if there is a 2020 football season.
Next up for the football program would be the three-week summer conditioning sessions.
“I’m pretty sure we won’t have the three-week period this year,” concluded Stoeckle. “At this point, I just hope we are going to have a football season this fall.”
If there is a season, the Bucs will kick it off on the road on Friday, Aug. 28 as they will visit the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears.
Aug. 28 – at Fairmont Senior
Sept. 4 – Ripley
Sept. 11 – Philip Barbour
Sept. 18 – Open
Sept. 25 – Greenbrier East
Oct. 2 – at John Marshall
Oct. 9 – at Lewis County
Oct. 16 – at University
Oct. 23 – Bridgeport
Oct. 30 – at Preston
Nov. 6 – Elkins