RICHLANDS, Va. — While the summer has been filled with seven-on-seven’s, weight-lifting and camps for players, football starts Aug. 1 for the fans.

The Blue Tornado will hit the practice field 8:30 a.m. Thursday for the first of several two-a-day sessions leading up to the Blue and White game Aug. 9. Much of the off-season talk has been about the quarterback battle between Cade Simmons and Gavin Cox.

Cox was last year’s backup to the departed Race Moir and Simmons is out for the first time since eighth grade. Sage Webb returns in the backfield and Will and Bowen Tarter return to the defense. All-state kicker Levi Forrest returns for his senior year.

Richlands fans get the chance to see the Blue and White at home early as Belfry, Kentucky. and George Wythe come in for a scrimmage Aug. 16. Grundy makes the trip to Ernie Hicks Stadium for a benefit game Aug. 22.

Gate City and new coach Jeremy Houseright come to town for the season opener Aug. 30. The Blues hit the road for Union in the first week in September.

J’me Harris prepares for his third season in Tazewell with the Bulldogs hitting the field for the first session 8:15 a.m. Thursday, which follows a weight-lifting session at 7 a.m. Running backs Chancellor Harris and Mike Jones, multi-purpose Josiah Jordan and lineman Josh Herndon are among the top players returning to the green and white.

With the departure of Jamir Blevins, who returned to Bluefield to play for the Beavers, the Bulldogs have an opening at quarterback. Gavin Nunley and Jared Mullins have been taking snaps in the 7 on 7’s.

The Bulldogs will have their green and white game Aug. 9 and that will be the last time fans get to see them without going on the road until mid-September. The Bulldogs head to Ridgeview for a scrimmage Aug. 16 and to Eastern Montgomery for the benefit game Aug. 22.

Tazewell has four of the first five regular season games on the road this year with the opener at Virginia High on Aug. 30. The Bulldogs head to Graham on Sept. 6, with Mount View traveling to Tazewell for the home opener Sept. 13.

Graham opens this season as defending Class 2 state champions with several returning players and some talented newcomers. Again this year the G-Men are waiting until Aug. 5 to start practice and will not take any days off before the start of school.

Devin Lester will move to quarterback to replace the departed Cam Allen, who takes his considerable skills to Purdue. Lester announced last week he is going to Old Dominion to play football next season.

Brody Meadows, Isaiah Justice, Trey Booker and Joey Dales are among the returnees for the G-Men.

Graham travels to Glenvar for a scrimmage Aug. 15 and to Roanoke on Aug. 22 to face Cave Spring and Greenbrier East. The Battle of the Bluefields takes place Aug. 30 at Mitchell Stadium. Beaver was the only team to beat Graham last year and the G-Men will be looking for revenge.

Honaker opens practice on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. with Doug Hubbard entering his 38th season at the helm of the Tigers. The Tigers have several players back, including all-state performer Chandler Hubbard.

Honaker travels to Russell County rival Lebanon to open the season.

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