PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — In his first season guiding the Patriots of Parkersburg South, Nathan Tanner orchestrated an 11-2 campaign, one that ended in the state semifinals at eventual champion Martinsburg.
“To finish off in the state semifinals, we lost to a better team,” Tanner said. “Obviously we would have liked for it to have ended better. But it is what it is. We have gone back this offseason and looked at things we needed to improve on. We are trying to capitalize on that.”
“I had the feeling before the season started,” said Parkersburg South senior Devin Gaines. “After the University game, everyone was clicking and the communication on the field and off the field was really good.”
A strong senior class that included leading receiver Dylan Day, all-state lineman Braxton Amos and J.R. House Award-winning quarterback Brandon Penn has moved on. The search for the new Brandon Penn continues.
“Who is the next Brandon Penn? That is a great question,” Tanner said. “I don’t know if we have a Brandon Penn right now. We have a lot of kids that are ready to step up and play football. I do know that.”
Whoever steps in under center will have an experienced core of receivers on the outside. That group includes Levi Rice, Jake Hogsett and Landon Francisco, all of whom caught five touchdown passes last year in the regular season.
“We are probably six kids deep right now as far as kids who can produce,” Tanner said. “We didn’t quite have that last year.”
Senior Devin Gaines returns to the backfield after scoring 18 rushing touchdowns with 1,161 yards in the regular season.
“I expect Devin to just build off of what he did last year,” Tanner said.
Expectations are elevated on the south side of Parkersburg after last year’s 11-win season, setting new standards for the program.
“That’s been really cool because you have seen some kids last year where their confidence level may not have been what it is today,” Tanner said. “Whenever you have a bunch of young men with high confidence levels, that’s a great thing for our team.”