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Coal Valley News reporter Phil Perry

Welcome back to Phil for the Game, your glimpse into the sports community of Boone County.

Boone County schools are closed for students, and games and contact practices for our athletic teams are put on hold for yet another week. The Sept. 19 update for the following week’s color-coded state guidelines listed Boone County in orange for the second week in a row.

Scott High’s Men’s Soccer team is ranked No. 1 in Class AA/A, which marks the first team sport top ranking since 2002, when the Skyhawk football team — led by current coach Shane Griffith — was ranked No. 1 from week 7 through 10.

Along with Assistant Coach Rodney Miller, Head Coach Zach Boyd said this season is unlike any other, with many scheduling obstacles to navigate related to COVID-19 beyond keeping his squad focused on the field, which he says isn’t a problem with this group of booters.

“The way we’ve been handling it is to look ahead to next week and we don’t discuss the color code system with our players or what our plans will be for the following week,” Boyd said. “We tell our players to be ready to play regardless of where we go or who we play — just be ready.

“We can’t control this color code system, regardless of how many times it changes,” he said. “What we do is look ahead and see who may be available to play and I’ll sit down on Wednesday or Thursday and see if (COVID) numbers are going up or down and see who else is playing who and what color code they may be in. Most of the teams we play are in Kanawha County and that goes for other teams around the state because Kanawha County has so many soccer teams.”

He added, “Looking at projections, on Friday we’ll reach out to coaches around the state and see who may be orange and then gold, and we have a second contingency plan. This is a week-to-week basis and our schedule can change quickly. If there is a silver lining, it allows us to play teams that we may not get to play otherwise. This is like looking into a crystal ball and guess at who will be available.

“If we’re close in Logan, Kanawha, Mingo, Lincoln or Cabell (counties), we have really good parents who are at the games and they drive the boys,” he said.

Boyd added that booking transportation through Boone County Schools has been a smooth process for the games that are farther away. Brian Linville serves as the new transportation director for Boone County Schools and he previously served as Scott’s athletic director.

Boyd said his squad is showing maturity in navigating a challenging season.

“With all of the changes, Rodney and I have said this would be a fluid situation and change hour to hour and day to day,” he said. “All we are looking for is an opportunity to play and when you can practice, work your guts out and be prepared. Our boys are hungry and for our seniors it is what they’ve been working at for four years. Our juniors have two years in going into this year and they understand what is going on right now. We are a deep team with 12 seniors. At the end of the year we’ll lose them ,and it will provide others a chance to step up and lead.”

While the Skyhawk Soccer team boasts a No. 1 state ranking and a No. 49 national ranking by CBS Sports/MaxPreps — which is the official ranking system of West Virginia soccer — Boyd said rankings aren’t the team focus.

“We aren’t putting much focus in the rankings,” he said. “Rodney and I don’t talk about it with the boys and they may see it on their own, but we don’t discuss it. As a team, we’d rather fly under the radar as much as possible. Being No. 1 during the season doesn’t carry the weight that being No. 1 at season’s end does. When you get to be the last team to go home with a win, then it will mean something to us.”

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry@hdmediallc.com or at 304-307-2401.