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Getting An Early Look: Ohio Valley Conference gives fans sneak peak at 2011 football season

South Point's R.J. McCarty (3) goes high in the air to try and knock down a River Valley pass during the first game of the Ohio Valley Conference football preview held Saturday night at Coal Grove. (The Ironton Tribune / Tony Shotsky of Southern Ohio Sports Photos.com)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

COAL GROVE — Finally, it was time to take a look.

The long wait from the end of last football season to the new year ended Saturday night at the annual Ohio Valley Conference preview.

Not only did the teams make their debut in game uniforms, but Chesapeake’s Andy Clark did a cameo before his official debut as the Panthers’ new head coach.

Clark — a former Chesapeake quarterback and assistant coach — took over for Phil Davis who retired. He said it has been a smooth transition.

“Coach Davis let me do a lot of stuff during practice to prepare me,” said Clark. “And the other assistant coaches have made it pretty easy on me.”

Teams play two quarters in the preview and coaches try to get most of their players in the game to get a glimpse of what they might be capable of doing when the season begins for real.

Like most teams, South Point has two scrimmages but coach Doug Shilot said the preview is still important.

“We look at it as a time to improve. We’re learning every time out,” said Shilot.

The weather took over late as lightning forced the final game to end early.

Teams will play Jamboree games next weekend. Teams are permitted to charge admission for the scrimmage if they pay a fee to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

On Friday, Coal Grove hosts Ironton, South Point entertains Tolsia, W.Va., and Green is at Chesapeake. On Saturday, Rock Hill is at Symmes Valley and Fairland visits Minford.