CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Hurricane is traveling to Winfield for this 2022 season opener, and it will be an interesting one, as both teams have first year head coaches.

Head coach of Hurricane, Donnie Mays, previously spent 16 seasons as head coach of South Charleston. He won 118 games and three state titles during his tenure with the Black Eagles.

This fall is Mays’ first season as head coach of the Redskins, and it’s also Winfield head coach Eddie Smolder’s first year as head coach of the Generals.

Smolder previously played at Ripley High, and then was a solid tight end for Marshall in the early 2000s.

Even though the coaches are new, the rivalry is not.

This has been the season opening game for both schools for many years.

The last time Winfield won this matchup it was 2013, so nine years ago.

Winfield finished last season at 5-and-5, and in the COVID year they went 0-6.

But this year, expectations are higher for the program.

Smolder says his guys are buying in, and it helps he’s hired quite the supporting cast of coaches to help out.

“I’m just really blessed to be in this position, to be honest with you,” said Smolder. “The kids have done nothing but everything I’ve asked them to do. They haven’t wavered from that. They’re improving weekly and I’m proud of their progress and I’m looking forward to the season.

I’m not worried about Hurricane,” Smolder continued. “They can do what they wanna do, and bring in as many people as they want to. We have our own Winfield kids here and we’re gonna show up Friday and protect our house. So our focus is more on us getting better and improving what we do, and when they show up we’ll bring our A game and get after it.”

On Hurricane’s side, players say the vibe has already changed in this new ‘Donnie Mays’ era.

“It’s been a change of atmosphere,” said senior wide receiver Heath Montgomery. “Having Taylor in the past, we ran practice different. Now with Donnie, we’re goin’ a little more fast paced, up tempo, and it’s a good change for the program. I think this year is gonna be really special for us, we have a lot of talent and if everyone buys in, we’ll be really good.”

“I’ve been part of big rivalries myself with George Washington South Charleston,” said Mays. “But this one is a unique one. It’s a rivalry that’s in-county, it’s like right next to each other. I’ve never seen two communities so excited to play one game and so it’s kind of unique in that aspect. And our kids get really fired up to play it because these are the same kids that have played each other growing up from midget league all the way to high school.”

Hurricane kicks off at Winfield at 7 o’clock.

This game will be our ‘Friday Night Sports Zone’ Game of the Week!

So make sure to tune into WOWK 13 News at 11:10 for highlights!