Eric Little – Seven Ranges Radio
A Mid-Ohio Valley landmark hosts its first game action this week, plus a Thursday night special means fans have the chance to see bonus football this weekend. Here are this week’s games (All games scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday unless otherwise specified).
Capital (2-0) at Parkersburg (1-1)
It’s taken a lot of hard work, problem solving and fundraising in the past 10 months to make it a reality, but the Parkersburg Big Reds will host Capital on Friday at Stadium Field. It’s a far cry from last November when Stadium Field was condemned after a routine inspection, especially when you consider that there was a time earlier in the summer where it looked like PHS would have to stage all five home games at alternate venues.
So, it’ll be a festive crowd packed into Parkersburg’s new-look on-campus digs when Capital comes calling. Capital kept their early season record flawless with an overtime win over Princeton. It was the gambler in Capital coach Jon Carpenter that helped lead to the 29-28 win.
After a late touchdown tied the game at 21, Princeton scored first in overtime to take a 28-21 lead. Capital answered on a Tyrhee Pratt touchdown run before Carpenter decided to go for the two-point conversion and the win. Perhaps Carpenter realized that a lot of things are possible when he’s got Pratt on his side, regarded as one of the best talents in the state. Pratt gets it done with his legs, but is a threat through the air as well. In his freshman year, Pratt threw for 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Parkersburg will need a big effort out of their quarterback Aaron Roberts to get the win Friday night. Roberts connected with Daniel Fox for Parkersburg’s only score in a 40-7 loss last week to Cabell Midland. The Knights shut down Parkersburg’s running attack last week, holding PHS to six yards on 15 carries in the first half. That will need to improve as well, because once the pregame festivities wear off…the harsh reality is that a very good team comes calling on Friday night at Stadium Field.
Tyler Consolidated (0-3) at St. Marys (3-0) (Thursday 7:00)
What’s the best way to deal with problems scoring touchdowns in the red zone? For St. Marys, they solved some of their issues by scoring multiple times without ever snapping the ball inside the opponent’s 20-yard-line in a 49-20 win over Parkersburg Catholic. Four of St. Marys’ seven touchdowns were scored on plays of more than 20 yards, including three of 30 yards or greater.
All told, it was a pretty nice bounce back from the week before where St. Marys intercepted SIX Wirt County passes but managed just seven points in a win over the Tigers. The Red Zone failings of the Wirt County game were offset by a defense that saved the day and in much the same fashion, defense helped the Blue Devils close the Parkersburg Catholic win.
Defensive end Bernie Northrup at one point racked up three quarterback sacks in a span of five offensive plays for the Blue Devils against the Crusaders. With senior captain David Gray limited for the second straight week because of injury, St. Marys looked to Jeremy Pratt to fill the void and the junior delivered. On just eight carries, Pratt racked up 147 yards and three touchdowns off the Blue Devils’ bench.
This week, St. Marys hosts Tyler Consolidated on a short week. The Silver Knights have shown improvement under new head coach Ryan Walton, but a rugged early-season schedule has hampered Tyler Consolidated. The Silver Knights haven’t scored more than two touchdowns in a game all year, which simply won’t cut it against St. Marys on Thursday. This game can be heard locally on Lite Rock 93R (93.9 FM) or online at www.literock93R.com.
Parkersburg South (1-2) at Warren Local, Ohio (1-2)
It’s been a rough two weeks for Parkersburg South, playing opponents with far superior running games than their defense can handle. Last week, it was Morgantown star and early-season Kennedy Award contender Chazzy Thomas. The Mohigan thoroughbred ran for four touchdowns and 174 yards in the first half alone in a 59-0 rout of the Patriots.
All told, the Mohigans gained nearly 500 total yards of offense on the Patriots, with almost 300 on the ground. Their opponent comes in after being thumped 42-6 last week by Athens, Ohio. Warren opened their season with a 51-40 loss against South’s crosstown rival Parkersburg. The running game showed signs of improvement from the previous week.
Though Brendan Schwendeman wasn’t able to come near his 400-yard effort in Week 1, he managed a very respectable 80 yards on 13 carries. If nothing else, this week should represent a breath of fresh air for the Patriots because it’s a winnable game, especially with a trip to University next week and Wheeling Park later in the year.
Ravenswood (2-0) at Wayne (2-0)
For the second straight year, Mick Price’s Ravenswood Red Devils are off to a 2-0 start. Heath Burgess scored four touchdowns – two through the air and two more on the ground. The only red flag right now about the Red Devils’ start? The fact that it’s the same thing that happened last year…and with Wayne as opponent #3 on the schedule, just like last year.
Last year, Wayne hung 84 points on the Red Devils to give Ravenswood their first of what would be eight straight losses to end the year. Though Ravenswood lost three of their final five games by single-digit margins, the Red Devils never really seemed to bounce back.
This game won’t be easy for Ravenswood, which is probably about as big of an understatement as saying that Billy Ray Cyrus is nobody’s frontrunner for any “Father of the Year” awards. Wayne is widely considered the class of Class AA and the early-season frontrunner to win another state championship. They’ve won their first two games by a combined score of 91-7. The biggest battle for Ravenswood might not be in what they do this Friday, but in how they bounce back and compete the rest of the season.
Ritchie County (2-1) at Braxton County (0-3)
The Ritchie County Rebels are starting to find some solutions on offense. After scoring just ten points in a season-opening loss to St. Marys, the Rebels averaged 46 points in their last two games. Last week’s 47-21 win came in Ritchie County’s first road game of the season.
Braxton County has done the exact opposite of find solutions on offense. The Eagles have lost all three games to start the season and have scored more than two touchdowns in just one of those three games this year. Early in the season, the Rebels found that using the pass to set up the run bodes best for their inexperienced offensive line. It’ll be interesting then to see if they’ll use a game like this one, against a struggling opponent, to maybe solidify things up front and gain confidence in a running attack that might be pressed into service more against teams with better pass defenses than what the Rebels have seen.
With the currently-unbeaten Doddridge County Bulldogs coming to Ellenboro next week, Ritchie County head coach Mike Dawson would surely like to have a team that’s clicking on all cylinders by the time the Bulldogs visit. This game will be heard locally on Lite Rock 93R (93.9 FM) and online at www.literock93R.com.
Parkersburg Catholic (2-1) at Calhoun County (0-3)
Attrition got the best of the Parkersburg Catholic Crusaders in a physically-demanding 49-20 loss to St. Marys on Friday. By the end of the game, quarterback Peyton Sturm was hobbled by the merciless barrage of Blue Devil defenders that had harassed him all night long. Kyle Bronski scored Parkersburg Catholic’s first touchdown of the night, but didn’t play in the second half because of injury.
Though Sturm found Jake Boice for two other scores, the loss of one of his strongest weapons proved detrimental Sturm in the second half. On top of that, it hurt Sturm to not have a rugged pass blocker in his backfield. Though small in number, the Crusaders will look to bounce back against Calhoun County.
The Red Devils have struggled in their three games, never scoring more than 20 points while allowing 30 or more in two of their three losses. Rest will be the biggest key for the Crusaders leading into this showdown. If the battered Crusaders can lick their wounds from a very physical loss a week ago, they should get back to their winning ways before two very tough games against Wirt County and Doddridge County respectively.
Wirt County (1-2) at Doddridge County (3-0)
Jason Hickman’s Wirt County Tigers picked up their first win of the year last week in a 51-16 drubbing of Gilmer County. You’d have to think that offensive effort was somewhat cathartic after the Tigers scored just 14 points combined in their first two games this season.
Known in the last few years for having one of the best small-school passing attacks in the area, the Tigers kept things on the ground in the win. 236 of Wirt County’s 340 total yards at halftime came on the ground. Four of Wirt County’s five first half touchdowns came on the ground and allowed the Tigers to build up a 36-0 lead at intermission. Doddridge County is beginning to get some attention around the state after a 3-0 start to their season. The latest victory came in a 45-8 rout of Calhoun County last week.
Though the offense has done plenty of scoring – 20 points or more in all three games – the defense can’t be ignored either. The 12 points the Bulldogs surrendered to Tyler Consolidated in their second game of the year are the most they’ve allowed all season. The defense has surrendered only single digits in two of their three games, but they’ll get their stiffest test of the season this week.
Though the Tigers won’t be a run-only team all season long and will probably feature the pass a little more gradually each week, expect Wirt County to stick with what’s been working. This game can be heard locally on V96 Radio (96.9 FM) and online at www.v969radio.net.
Gilmer County (2-1) at Paden City (0-3)
After a rude awakening at Wirt County last week, Gilmer County will look to bounce back against winless Paden City. Titan quarterback Austin Cunningham completed 21 of his 31 passes, but Gilmer County couldn’t stop Wirt County’s potent running attack. For the Titans, they’ll have to focus on Paden City quarterback Zach Heasley, who connected with Luke Cooper five times for 56 yards in a 36-14 loss last week to Beallsville, Ohio.
Brandon Cross returned an interception 56 yards for a touchdown for the Wildcats in the loss. The Wildcats have surrendered 40 points or more in two of their three games this year and it’s likely that Cunningham will be the best passer they’ve seen at this point of the season.
Unless they can find answers, the Gilmer County signal-caller has a good shot to declaw Paden City. This game can be heard locally on WXCR Radio (92.3 FM) or online at www.wxcr.com.
Wahama (2-1) at Belpre, Ohio (1-2)
After suffering their first regular season loss since 2009 in their conference opener, the Wahama White Falcons got back to their winning ways with a 54-0 rout of Eastern Local, Ohio. They’ll face Belpre, Ohio this week – a team coming off its second-straight loss. Expect the White Falcons to continue their winning ways through the mediocre portion of their Tri-Valley Conference schedule. Only two of Wahama’s six remaining conference games come against opponents with winning records.
Spring Valley (1-2) at Ripley (0-3)
Webster County (0-3) at Roane County (1-2)