MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Well-rested and with momentum on their side, Wheeling Park hits the road Thursday evening, looking to match last year’s 5-1 start to the season.
The Patriots will visit Morgantown in a game that will be broadcast on the MetroNews Channel at wvmetronews.com and on WTOV’s MeTV affiliate in the Wheeling area. Kickoff is set for 7:00pm.
On September 27th, the Patriots erased a 21-point deficit and scored in the final minute to edge Zanesville, Oh. 35-34. That represents Zanesville’s lone loss of the season (5-1).
“Anytime you coach football, you wonder how your kids will handle extreme adversity,” said Wheeling Park head coach Chris Daugherty. “It is nice to see that your kids won’t quit and your coaches will keep coaching. Everyone stays together. It was a huge win. Zanesville is very good.”
Wheeling Park is coming off a bye week. While the extra time off helped to mend some nagging injuries, Daugherty says his team had momentum on their side.
“You kind of want to keep going,” Daugherty said. “It is a double-edged sword as far as off weeks go.”
The Patriots have won three games in a row since falling to St. Clairsville, Oh. 36-33 in week two.
“I think we are forming into a pretty good defense and a much better defense than we were in week one or two,” Daugherty said.
Wheeling Park averages 214 rushing yards per game and they have four backs with over a hundred yards. Senior Raphael Bradley leads the way with 390 yards and five touchdowns.
“It is great to know that you have not one or two, but maybe three,” Daugherty said. “Kenya (Robinson) can step in or Raphael can step in and take all the snaps. We have quality guys there. Alex (Dunlevy) has done a good job of making himself a running threat.”
Dunlevy is Park’s senior quarterback and he is averaging 214 passing yards per contest. He is also the Patriots’ second-leading rusher and has accounted for eighteen total touchdowns. Dunlevy is the latest member of a quality group of signal callers to come through Wheeling Park. That group includes Toledo’s Cross Wilkinson and West Liberty’s Zach Phillips.
“Alex had to wait until Cross left but I think he learned a lot in that time,” Daugherty said. “I would compare him more towards Zach Phillips in his style and how they play.”
“Offensively, they have some kind of quarterback pipeline going on right now,” Morgantown head coach Matt Lacy said. “(Dunlevy) is a playmaker.”
Morgantown (1-5) is off to their worst start to a season since 1984. The Mohigans suffered narrow losses at Parkersburg and Bridgeport in the first two weeks and have struggled to gain traction against a challenging slate of opponents.
“You have to gut check yourself and see where you want to be,” Lacy said. “Do you want to be a football player and make this team better or do you want to sit on the sidelines and watch?”
“There’s a lot of football teams in the state of West Virginia that if they traded schedules, would be 1-5 right now,” Daugherty said. “And Morgantown would not be if they had someone else’s schedule. I see a lot of the same qualities in Morgantown teams that have been 5-0.”
“We have nothing to lose,” Lacy said. “We can just play the spoiler role at this point.”