GRAFTON, W.Va – The Grafton Bearcats enter the 2022 season in brand new territory as first year head coach Mickey Foley takes over the program from Rich Bord who led Grafton to the playoffs for the first time in a decade last season.

With some momentum going forward, the message that the new coaching staff is looking to pass on is rather simple when it comes to their team’s attitude.

“One of the biggest things we’re trying to teach these kids is you’ve got to care more about your teammate than yourself. We can’t play selfish football,” Foley said, “You’ve got to make sure you do your job because when you don’t do your job, your teammates suffer.”

With plenty of returning talent from last year’s playoff team, the Bearcats know what it takes to get to the postseason now and they’ve put in the work match their desire.

“Well, I think we all want to. We’ve been working really hard, two-a-days for the last three weeks, scrimmage last Saturday. Played pretty good. It wasn’t that bad. I think we’ll do good,” senior Cole Mooney said.

The transition to the new head coach has been a smooth one on and off the field with the culture of the program that Foley is trying to implement having an effect already.

“The kids are buying into what we’re trying to teach them. As far as attendance and everything, we don’t have an attendance issue. Kids are coming to practice,” he said, “Occasional thing here or there but other than that, they’re ready to work every day.”

Now that the expectations are set for how the program will handle itself off the field, Grafton has expectations for itself between the lines as well.

After last year’s return to the playoffs, there is a definite desire for more where that came from.

“The biggest thing is they want a little bigger piece of the playoff pie so to speak. We got in the playoffs last year. Didn’t perform great,” Foley said, “Got beat by a really good team but they want to get to a point where its not just one week in and out.”

How are they approaching the effort to get back to the postseason? This coaching staff wants to see their players walk the walk instead of just talking the talk this season.

“Every team that they see on TV being interviewed say the same thing. “We’ve got the guys. We can do it,” but at some point you actually have to put those words into action,” Foley said, “We can say all we want but if we’re not going to work the same way a championship-caliber team works, we’re still not going to be there.”

With Week 1 now less than a full week away, eyes in Grafton turn toward a renewed rivalry as the Bearcats will head to Philippi to take on Philip Barbour for the first time in two years next week.

The excitement is at a fever pitch.

“I love it. I can’t wait. Cannot wait. Didn’t get play them last year. Coal Bowl’s back. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Mooney said.

Grafton and Philip Barbour square off at George Byrer Field on Friday, August 26.