GLENVILLE - A three-year run of winning seasons came to an end in 2010 for the Glenville State College football team when the Pioneers finished 5-6 in what proved to be head coach Alan Fiddler's last campaign as head coach.
The Pioneers, who last won the West Virginia Conference title in 2008, decided to stay in-house and promote David Hutchison to head coach.
With a plethora of returning starters and lettermen, there's good cause for excitement in Pioneer land this year. In the conference preseason coaches' poll, the G-men were picked fourth behind Shepherd, West Liberty and Fairmont State.
"We're trying to get an identity," said Hutchison, whose squad opens its season at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1 at Morris Stadium against visiting Carson-Newman.
"We have some high expectations, but this conference is going to be really tough. It's going to be really challenging."
The schedule isn't going to do GSC any favors either. After facing Carson-Newman, the Pioneers will hit the road to take on Division II power North Alabama on Sept. 10, a game the G-men lost last year at home, 54-10.
"It's funny, my first head coaching job will be against coach (Ken) Sparks, who is the all-time winningest coach in Division II history," Hutchison said.
"He has a wonderful program and then we'll have a major challenge the following week playing against (head coach) Terry Bowden and their troops."
Glenville State returns a pair of all-WVIAC performers in junior left tackle Mark Jackson and senior Mike linebacker Donald Marshall. Jackson was a first team all-conference honoree while Marshall took second team honors.
Although Darold Hughes returns at quarterback, transfer Steffen Colon is a capable signal-caller who gives the Pioneers another threat under center.
While tailback Joe Mesadieu returns as the expected feature back after rushing for nearly 600 yards and averaging better than 6 yards per carry, the GSC quarterbacks will have plenty of options in the passing game. What should turn out to be a bright spot and put pressure on opposing defenses, the Pioneers return their top two wideouts. Antwan Stewart and Jordan Griffin combined for nearly 100 catches, more than 1,250 yards and 11 scores a year ago.
What most everyone in Pioneer country is hoping for is the team that finished the season with a stunning 28-24 victory at conference champion Shepherd is the one that shows up each game this season.
"Obviously, that was a wonderful day for Glenville State. It was a big, big win. That was our day," said the coach. "The thing it helped our guys with is that with all of our returners and experience coming back, we can play with anybody when we are ready to play. They understand we have a good enough team to get it done when we are ready to go."