PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Parkersburg navigated a challenging schedule last fall to win five of their first eight games. Although the Big Reds extended their playoff streak to three years under head coach Mike Byus, they lost their final three games to finish at 5-6. Losing their most dynamic threat on offense, defense and special teams in Braeden Mason to injury late in the year proved too much to overcome.
“When you lose a kid like that who was your best DB, your best kick returner, your best punt returner and your most explosive offensive weapon, when we lost him we didn’t win another game,” Byus said.
Bryson Singer won the starting quarterback spot in training camp last August and finished the regular season with 19 total touchdowns and 2,263 yards of total offense.
“In today’s offenses, the quarterback needs to be either an adequate runner — he was our best running back if you want to know the truth. So our goal is to get him to 2,500 yards passing, maybe not quite as many rushes. He is so much bigger and so much stronger that there will be a certain amount of rushing for him too because he is a beast.”
Several of Parkersburg’s top defensive playmakers and linemen have moved on like C.J. Wade and Gage Fiore. Rising senior Justin Waybright will be counted on heavily after collecting six sacks last season.
“And then somebody has to step up and be Justin Waybright. To me that is the way that kind of works. Justin will have to step up and be the guy. Justin looks really good and he will be a two-way player for us.”
Eight of Parkersburg’s opponents qualified for postseason play a year ago, giving the Big Reds a daunting path back to postseason play. Byus hopes that despite the challenging road, his team can respond better late in the season.
“We don’t focus on how good the opponent is, but how well we play. We want to go out there and if somebody is going to beat us, we want them to earn it. We don’t want to go out and give it to them. We want to do the things we are coached to do, play with a lot of passion and fly around and have fun.”