Category: Jackson

Déjà vu as unbeaten Jackson and Jonathan Alder meet in regional semi


Jonathan Alder38Win
Déjà vu as unbeaten Jackson and Jonathan Alder meet in regional semi

DIII, Region 9 matchup is one of only three unbeaten matchups statewide

By Spencer Waugh

Jonathan Alder vs Jackson (On time)

It’s like déjà vu all over again.

If it feels familiar to see undefeated Jackson (11-0) vs undefeated Jonathan Alder (11-0) in week 12, that’s because it is. Last time around, in 2011, it was the Pioneers who marched to the regional final with a 28-7 victory over the Ironmen.

This season, only the location has changed, moving from Logan Chieftain Stadium to Teays Valley’s Viking Stadium in Ashville.

For the seventh time in school history – and third under head coach Andy Hall – the Jackson Ironmen finished with a perfect 10-0 record. While these Ironmen will look forward to wearing the coveted white jackets awarded to undefeated Jackson teams, they also hope to make even more history.

Overall, Jackson is making their 14th playoff appearance where they hold an 8-13 postseason record. They first qualified for the playoffs in 1996.

The team from the Apple City won the Frontier Athletic Conference title and defeated two playoff qualifiers during the regular season in Wellston and Wheelersburg.

Twice Jackson has reached a regional final – first in 1996 where a single playoff victory over Hillsboro moved the Ironmen one game away from the state semifinal, and most recently in 2015 where wins over Bexley and Columbus Bishop Watterson saw the red and white advance to a regional final where their season ended against Zanesville.

But no Jackson team has won 12 games in a season. And that’s something that Hall and his team hope to change on Friday night.

But Jackson isn’t the only school looking to make history. Jonathan Alder is returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2017 but make their 15th appearance over the last 20 seasons and 17th overall. The Pioneers are 12-16 all-time in the post-season, including trips to the regional final in 2004 and 2011 and a DIV state runner-up finish in 2006.

The Pioneers won the Central Buckeye Conference – Kenton Trail division and defeated three playoff qualifiers in the regular season.

The 2019 versions of these two squads have been outstanding.

Jackson grid boss Andy Hall is in his 11th season and holds an astounding 92-29 record including seven playoff appearances. Hall is 5-6 in postseason games at Jackson.

The 2019 Ironmen rolled through their regular season schedule, with only a single game decided by less than two touchdowns. Their opponents went 47-53 in the regular season.

In last week’s playoff opener, the Ironmen rolled up 461 rushing yards – averaging over 10 per attempt – on their way to a 70-28 rout of Columbus Centennial.

Running back Jayden Spires (6-0, 205, senior) is the team’s top rusher with 176 carries for 1400 yards (7.95 per carry) and 20 touchdowns. The senior combines speed and power to overwhelm opposing defenses.

Classmate Brice Graham (6-2, 205) is another talented back who also broke the century mark and scored three touchdowns against Centennial last week.

At quarterback, Jared Icenhower (6-0, 185, senior) is a veteran, finishing his third season as the team’s starting quarterback. This fall “Ice” has completed 59 of 106 passes for 938 yards with 13 touchdowns.

Receiver Tristan Prater (6-0, 170, sophomore) and tight end Treylan Davis (6-5, 215, junior) are top pass catching targets.

Freshman Jacob Winters (6-1, 215) doesn’t look like a freshman – and doesn’t play like one either. Winters can play all over the field for the red and white – he’ll line up in the slot, the backfield, and even take snaps at quarterback.

Up front, Ty Ruckel (5-10, 225, senior), Trevor Norris (6-3, 270, senior), and Aaron Mahoney (5-11, 240, senior) help anchor an offensive line who can impose their will on opposing defenses.

The Ironmen are scoring 43 points per game.

Defensively, Jackson’s 3-4 base defense relies on speed and aggression in the front seven to get into the backfield and disrupt opposing offenses.

Davis and Grant Mastin (6-1, 210, sophomore) are stout inside linebackers while Jayden Spires and Evan Spires (6-0, 190, sophomore) are athletic match-up nightmares at outside linebacker.

Up front, Joey Richison (5-7, 165, senior) is disruptive from his noseguard position while Ruckel and Anthony Parks (6-3, 200, senior) were all-league selections.

Winters, Graham, Prater, Icenhower, and Brice Parks (5-10, 190, senior) are talented in the secondary.

The Ironmen are allowing only 12 points per game.

Jonathan Alder is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2017, and their 35-13 win over Sheridan last week marked the first playoff victory for sixth year head coach Brett Glass. Glass is 49-15 overall and 1-3 in postseason play.

On their march to a perfect regular season, Alder was rarely challenged against a schedule that went 52-48 overall in the regular season. Their best wins were over playoff qualifiers Bloom-Carroll (42-13), Springfield Shawnee (56-34), and London (24-23). B-C and Shawnee are still playing football this weekend.

Offensively, the Pioneers rely on the speed and power of running back Garret Proxmire (6-0, 185, senior) who has rushed for 1,481 yards and 18 touchdowns on 231 carries. Proxmire ran for 106 yards and a score on 20 carries last week against Sheridan.

Quarterback JT Keith (5-9, 165, junior) gives the Madison Countians balance on offense, completing nearly 66-percent (143 of 217) passes for 1,933 yards and 28 touchdowns. He has been intercepted only three times.

Last week, Keith completed 28 of 40 passes for 266 yards with a pair of touchdowns and one interception in the win over Sheridan.

Keith’s top targets are Jacob Fenik (5-10, 180, senior), Jackson Izzard (6-2, 170, junior), and Dawson Detweiler (5-10, 165, senior). Fenik has caught 51 passes for 657 yards and eight touchdowns while Izzard is close behind with 44 snags for 677 yards and 12 touchdowns. Detwiler has 22 grabs for 362 yards and three scores.

Last week, Fenik caught a season high 14 passes for 92 yards and a pair of scores while Izzard added eight catches for 110 yards.

Fenik might be a familiar name to the Jackson County contingency. His father, Mark, was an All-SEOAL selection for the Ironmen as a senior in 1981 and his grandfather Ron was the JHS head coach in the mid-1970s.

Up front, Connor Morgan (6-3, 275, seniors) and Blake Caldwell (6-2, 245, senior) anchor the offensive line at left tackle and center respectively.

Defensively, the black and red line-up in a 4-2-5 base defense that might shift to more of a true 4-4 look to combat Jackson’s power running game.

Brayden Blain (6-0, 220, senior) and Chase Maynard (5-10, 185, sophomore) are the top tacklers from their linebacker posts. Blain recorded 90 tackles (62 solo) with Maynard adding 79 (50 solo) during the regular season.

Cade Keaton (5-10, 180, senior) made 65 stops (51 solo) and picked off four passes from his hybrid safety/outside linebacker position.

Up front, Denver Petersheim (5-9, 175, junior) and Kyle Kidd (6-2, 230, junior) lead the team in sacks.

Izzard, Fenik, and Drew Begin (6-0, 180, senior) play in the secondary and combined for six interceptions during the regular season.

The Pioneers are allowing only 17.5 points per game.

Friday night’s game will likely come down to which team can better control the line of scrimmage. Alder has shown better balance on the offensive side of the football but might struggle to contain the athletic Jackson linebackers in pass rushing situations if the Pioneers are not able to get Proxmire going in the run game.

Conversely, Jackson doesn’t have an offense built to sling the ball around more than a dozen times per game. If Spires and Graham are held in check, the Pioneers will like their matchups in the secondary.

In the kicking game, Alder’s Dylan Moore has been perfect this season converting all 55 extra point tries and all three field goal attempts including a last second game winner against London in week 10.

For Jackson, Isaac Kuhn has also been a reliable booter for the Ironmen.

Will history repeat itself with the Pioneers defeating Jackson to move to 12-0? Or will Jackson write their selves into the JHS history books by moving into the regional final at 12-0?

Kick off is at 7:00 PM in Ashville.

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Jonathan Alder

Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA


Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA


Date Time League Season
November 15, 2019 7:00 pm Playoffs 2019

Week 7 Roundup Preview: Wheelersburg @ Oak Hill, Wellston @ Nelsonville-York, Jackson @ Washington C.H.

Key games involve Jackson County clubs



Photos by Ruth Boll,

Oak Hill vs Wheelersburg (On time)

So a lingering question for the Wheelersburg Pirates this week has been are they “back”?


What exactly are these Pirates back from probably depends upon subjective perspective, but – truth be told – Wheelersburg was never gone if you are referring to the Southern Ohio Conference Division II championship chase.


The Pirates did begin the season an uncharacteristic 2-3, but do remember they graduated the most successful senior class in school history – and lost to three teams with a current combined record of 16-2.

Still, they entered SOC II competition as the consensus division favorite, and captured the gigantic conference opener last week with their colossal 21-20 overtime triumph at Minford.


It was the second such one-point overtime win for Wheelersburg, with 5-1 Ashland (34-33) being the other, as – with Minford now 5-1 – the Pirates picked up enough playoff points to vault them all the way to fifth in the OHSAA Division V Region 19 computer ratings.


This week, Wheelersburg invades Oak Hill, which is also 3-3 and just outside the Region 19 top-10 in 11th.

That matchup, no longer a non-league one, is now an SOC II encounter – and even a bit better one than originally anticipated in say the preseason.


Kickoff on Friday night inside sparkling Davis Stadium in Oak Hill is set for 7 p.m.


After a 20-point (35-15) mistake-filled loss at Jackson, the Pirates put together an effort for the ages in winning at Minford – and extending their SOC II win streak to 22 games.


“It was such a great step forward for us last week. We were finally at full strength health-wise for the first time all season, and we had a great week of preparation and practice,” said Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward. “We’ve overcome a lot of adversity and injuries already this year, we’ve played a great schedule to get us ready for the SOC II, and we keep getting better in all three phases.”

The Oaks opened SOC II action at injury-riddled Valley, and escaped the Indians’ lair with a 21-16 victory – their second consecutive of the season.


Wheelersburg has dominated the series against the Oaks, who were members of the SOC I -and held a strangle-hold upon that division for the past decade.


The Pirates are another heavy favorite for a victory on Friday, but should they saddle themselves with more penalties and even turnovers, then Oak Hill has the opportunity at an upset.


The Oaks are primarily a run-oriented unit, while Wheelersburg enjoyed success both running and throwing a week ago.

Oak Hill Rushing

Triston Diltz2020189105812
Keaton Potter20201066436
Noah Donley2020934424
Nate Clutters202310580
Cameron Kerns20219370

“I’m not sure what the expectation was for Oak Hill entering the year, but they’ve won a couple of big games in the last two weeks and we certainly expect them to give us another kind of challenge,” said Woodward. “At some point, we figured Oak Hill would move up to the SOC II, so that’s a big reason why we kept them on the schedule. They have shown an ability to run the football. Coach (Paul) Carver has done a good job in his first year there.”



Wellston at Nelsonville-York

Nelsonville-York vs Wellston (On time)

Speaking of good first years, new coach Mike Smith has the Wellston Golden Rockets off to their best start since a 6-1 beginning in 2004, which was the first season of two (also 2006) in which they qualified for the state playoffs.


The Golden Rockets opened that season with a loss to Jackson, ran off six straight victories, and then fell short at Nelsonville-York (13-8), which went on to capture the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division championship.


Fast forward 15 years, and the Golden Rockets return to Buckeye country having began this campaign at 5-1 – on a five-game winning streak following their final matchup against undefeated Jackson.


Wellston is 2-0 in the TVC-Ohio with two shutouts – an 8-0 blanking at Alexander and a 42-0 blowout of River Valley.


But, beginning with the Buckeyes on Friday night, the Golden Rockets really get into the meat of their schedule, as Athens – the defending division champion – comes calling next week, with archrival Vinton County looming soon.


Nelsonville-York – having lost to two of the top Division VI programs in all of Ohio in undefeateds Trimble and Fort Frye – has recovered nicely with four straight wins, including two lopsided ones over River Valley and Meigs in the TVC-Ohio.

1Brandon Phillips2021273153
2Keegan Wilburn2020233655
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The winner will, along with expected Athens, improve to 3-0 in the division.

Kickoff inside historic Boston Field in Nelsonville is set for 7:30 p.m.


Keegan Wilburn
Current Team
The Buckeyes sport senior running Keegan Wilburn – an Ohio University commit and the reigning Division VI Offensive Player of the Year.


Wilburn, a threat to score at any time he touches the football, has rushed for 475 yards and seven touchdowns on 35 carries – while catching 18 passes for 242 yards and four scores.


When Wilburn gains yardage, his average is a whopping 13-and-a-half yards per play.


He also has 94 receiving yards for 811 all-purpose.


Rylan Molihan
Current Team
Wellston senior Rylan Molihan is the closest thing to Wilburn for the Rockets, as he has rushed for 712 yards and eight touchdowns on 87 carries, while making six receptions for 72 yards and one TD.


While Nelsonville-York last won the TVC-Ohio in back-to-back falls of 2016 and 2017, it’s been since back-to-back seasons of 2001 and 2002 when Wellston last won its only league championships.

Mikey Seel
Current Team

It’s also a massive contest involving OHSAA computer points, as the Buckeyes are 10th in Division VI Region 21, while Wellston is eighth in Division V Region 19.

The top eight teams in each region qualify for the playoffs – with the top four squads earning first-round home bouts.



Jackson at Washington Court House

Miami Trace vs Jackson (On time)

The Jackson Ironmen are actually at work with trying to make this season their seventh undefeated in school history.


In fact, under 11-year head coach Andy Hall, the Red and White went 10-0 in the regular season in 2011 and 2014 – so Hall has a chance at three for a decade.

The others were in 1996, 1961, 1954 and clear back during the Great Depression days in 1932.


Oh, but these Ironmen are anything but depressed, as they begin a three-game road stretch with what’s suddenly become an interesting encounter with Washington Court House.


The Blue Lions are 4-2, and aim to upset the visiting and undefeated Ironmen on Friday night at 7 p.m.

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3Calum Brown20232236230
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5A.J. Dallmayer202386010

Jackson is the defending Frontier Athletic Conference champion with Hillsboro, but the Indians are only 3-3  – and the Ironmen are the overwhelming conference favorite.

But the Ironmen – despite key victories last week by Wellston, Logan and especially Wheelersburg – fell to fifth this week with the latest release of the Division III, Region 11 computer ratings.


Jackson can regain some of that traction – and positioning – by defeating the Blue Lions, whose four victories are over teams with a combined record of a poor 4-20.


While Washington’s defense has vastly improved, as it surrendered 69 points to the host Ironmen a year ago, the Blue Lions must make major inroads in stopping Jackson’s powerful running attack.


Jayden Spires is the Ironmen’s leading rusher with 580 yards and six scores on 84 carries, while five other backs have carried at least 18 times – with Brice Graham going for 59.




Another high stakes tilt between Pirates, Ironmen

Another high stakes tilt between Pirates, Ironmen

Jackson vs Wheelersburg ()



Indeed, it’s this way with the Wheelersburg Pirates and the Jackson Ironmen once again.


Plenty of buildup, plenty of anticipation, plenty of hype, plenty of mutual respect, and plenty of ramifications following.


Oh, and absolutely don’t forget, PLENTY of computer points towards qualifying for the state playoffs awaiting the winner.


With Friday night’s annual week-five football clash between the two tradition-rich programs, there is – once again – much at stake.


This time, with Wheelersburg reviving its campaign with back-to-back victories after an 0-2 start, the Pirates travel to Jackson’s Alumni Stadium to square off against the undefeated Ironmen.

Since the renewal of this series in 2012, it has been one-sided in the win-loss column with Wheelersburg winning six of the previous seven meetings – as  Jackson’s 27-0 victory in 2014 was the only exception.


That was also the last time in which the Ironmen enjoyed an undefeated regular season, as they will need to knock off the improving Pirates if they are to accomplish such a feat once again.


Kickoff inside what should be an electric Alumni Stadium in the Apple City is set for 7 p.m.


The Pirates, which lead the Ironmen in the all-time series 15-7, played Jackson – prior to 2012 – in every season from 1976 thru 1989, and actually have won 11 of the past dozen meetings.


In fact, of the last six Wheelersburg victories, the closest the Ironmen have come was a 28-7 decision four years ago.


But, as 11-year Jackson head coach – and Wheelersburg graduate – Andy Hall said on Tuesday, the Ironmen aren’t shying away from playing the powerful Pirates.


“We’re always going to play Wheelersburg. These are teams you should want your program to play every year. It’s a measuring stick for your program, and I’m sure they look at it the same way,” he said.


This season’s Pirates, following the graduation of the winningest senior class in school history that produced two state semifinal appearances and the 2017 Division V state championship, have successfully righted the ship from season-opening lopsided losses against Ironton (30-6) and Columbus Hartley (44-6).


“The last two weeks have been extremely important for our team to grow and develop,” said Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward. “We have been challenged in a number of ways defensively, offensively and in special teams and our guys have improved in all phases of the game.”


In both victories against Ashland (34-33 in overtime) and Greenup County (38-7), both Kentucky schools, the Pirates were certainly healthier – with Wheelersburg standout senior Makya Matthews the primary returnee.

Matthews, who scored the Pirates’ only points against Ironton on a 72-yard run, suffered a second-half shoulder injury in that contest – and did not play against Hartley.


Makya Matthews
Current Team
Matthews made a major difference against Ashland, catching nine passes for 135 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown from quarterback Aaron Masters that put the Pirates on the board.


He also rushed nine times for 32 yards, and was one of three Wheelersburg ballcarriers with at least that many carries and yards.


Against Greenup, Matthews carried just three times for 50 yards, but 40 of them went for Wheelersburg’s initial score just 37 seconds in.


Masters completed 7-of-13 passes for 124 yards, as Evan Horsley (10 carries for 62 yards) and Carson Williams (eight carries for 59 yards) also rushed at least three times for 50.


Woodward said the current Pirates, in replacing several standouts on the offensive side from a year ago, are just now settling nicely into their roles.


“Our guys are really starting to adjust to not only their roles, but the roles of those around them and come together as a team,” said the coach. “We continue to improve in our overall health and that in turn provides us with more depth.  Practices have been fast, loose and focused, which is just what we want.”


And this week, the Pirates are expected to get senior wide receiver/defensive back Hunter Ruby back from injury.


Hall discussed Wheelersburg’s multi-dimensional offense.


“They are dangerous with several playmakers. (Makya) Matthews is the go-to guy, but these guys are just as good as some of their players of the past. They played two of the best programs in the state of Ohio in any division in Ironton and Hartley, and maybe didn’t have the experience level right away of some of the past Wheelersburg teams, but they are rolling right now. They can run it well, they can throw it well, they can line up in the spread and stretch your defense out, or they can line up in a power-I two-tight with eight men on the line and run it right down your throat which they have done to us before,” said Hall. “They have good size and speed as they always do, and we’re going to have to be at our best as far as being physical and tackling their athletes in space.”


Indeed, the 3-4 Ironmen defense – especially against the pass  – must be on its ‘A’ game.


While Jackson’s run defense has been dominant, the Red and White have surrendered some passing yards, although against the Pirates those yards can’t result in points.


The Ironmen must play physical against Wheelersburg, as the Pirates will try to establish the likes of Matthews, Horsley and Williams on the ground.


“Our calling card has always been being physical. We have to be physical up front Friday, or they will try to do to us like they did in 2015 (28-7 Wheelersburg win),” said Hall. “We are not real big up front, but we have speed to get to the ball. But we can’t let them push us around.”


Expect the Ironmen to employ their ball-control, clock-consuming running attack, which has produced 1,1,27 rushing yards on 211 carries to date.


Three senior running backs – Jayden Spires (65 carries for 444 yards and six touchdowns), Brice Graham (55 carries for 300 yards and four TD) and Mitchell Johnson (35 carries for 251 yards and 2 TD) – have complimented senior quarterback Jared Icenhower, who has completed 28-of-50 passes for 269 yards and four scores.


Woodward would prefer the Pirates’ offense be on the field as much as possible, so preventing the Ironmen from offensively shortening the game will be important.


“This week’s test will again be a huge challenge for our players to rise and show more growth and maturity. Jackson has a great run game with the ability to stretch the field on the play-action pass,” he said.


Hall hailed the Pirates’ defense, which is just as strong as their offense.


“Their defensive line sheds blocks so well, their linebackers play downhill and swarm to the football, and their secondary is always making plays around the ball,” he said. “We have to be able to hold onto the ball, and we really have to eliminate penalties.”


Eliminate the penalties, cut out the turnovers, and pick up the playoff points.


With the initial release of the official Ohio High School Athletic Association computer ratings, the Ironmen are seventh in Division III, Region 11, while Wheelersburg is sixth in Division V, Region 19.


The Pirates picked up valuable points in defeating the two Kentucky clubs, which are the equivalent of OHSAA Division III programs.


Wheelersburg especially benefited from four-win Ashland’s overtime victory against Ironton, which is already a three-win program and tied for the top ranking in Region 19 with Minford.


The Fighting Tigers already own 39-and-a-half Level 2 points, and a win over the Ironmen amounts the Pirates even more.


However, Jackson can pretty much say the same thing should it defeat the Pirates, which according to some observers are favored for Friday night’s outcome.


Indeed, it’s this way with Wheelersburg and Jackson once again.


“It’s a non-league game, but so much is always at stake,” said Hall. “Regardless of record, this game is great for both programs to see where you are at.”


Wheelersburg @ Jackson Game Thread

Wheelersburg Leading Rushers























Blue Devils renew rivalry with Big Blacks; Logan @ Jackson, Minford @ Greenup County


“The Battle of The Bridge” is indeed back, and this time, it’s extremely interesting.

Gallia Academy vs Point Pleasant WV (On time)

After a two-year hiatus, the annual Ohio River rivalry between the Gallia Academy Blue Devils and the Point Pleasant Big Blacks resumes on Friday night – and both teams are looking to remain undefeated.

But, the Blue Devils are already 2-0, while the visiting Big Blacks – believe it or not – have yet to play a game this season.

In addition, it’s a new-look Point Pleasant squad up against an experienced Gallia Academy club  – coming off its stellar 9-2 campaign and already with two shutouts to start this year.

Kickoff is set for Friday night at historic Memorial Field in Gallipolis at 7 p.m.

The Blue Devils blanked Meigs (24-0) and River Valley (38-0) in their first two tilts, as Gallia Academy – the defending Ohio Valley Conference champion – opens OVC play next week.

But the Big Blacks of Class AA in West Virginia are a step – or two – up in competition for these up-and-coming Blue Devils, as Point Pleasant has recently dominated the long-running series that stopped after 2016.

That year, as the current Gallia Academy seniors were just freshmen, the program went 1-9 – and lost at powerful Point Pleasant 61-12.

Those Big Blacks were spearheaded by then-sophomore quarterback Cason Payne, who has now graduated while setting several school records – and earning all-state honors in West Virginia four times.

Payne rushed and passed for 1,000 yards two times each in those four years, as the Big Blacks qualified for the Class AA playoffs in each.

Point Pleasant also graduated Payne’s primary and record-setting wide receiver, Josh Wamsley, while three of his starting offensive linemen are gone as well.

The Big Blacks do return senior offensive linemen Jacob Muncy and Nate Barth, along with 1,000-yard rusher from a year ago and fellow senior Brady Adkins.

Hunter Bush – a junior – takes over under center for Payne, and despite his lack of significant varsity experience is believed to have a strong throwing arm.

The Big Blacks also return nine starters on defense, as Gallia Academy’s athleticism and speed will need to make plays against Point Pleasant’s experience.

But the Blue Devils do have plenty of playmakers, primarily junior James Armstrong and sophomore Donevyn Woodson.

Donevyn Woodson
Current Team
Gallia Academy
2019, 2020


James Armstrong
Current Team
Gallia Academy
2019, 2020
  Against River Valley, Armstrong went off for 174 rushing yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.

That win marked the ninth consecutive in the regular season for the Blue and White, dating back to week three of last season – a narrow 15-9 loss at Jackson.

The Ironmen occupied this week-three post the past two years, which Point Pleasant held before and now does again.

But by this time usually, the Big Blacks – an independent program in the Mountain State – will have had two games under their belts.

Not this season, though, as Point Pleasant is playing only a nine-game regular-season slate – as the Big Blacks couldn’t find a week-one opener at the end of August.

With West Virgina’s 11-week regular season, they had their scheduled bye for the year last week.

So the Blue Devils do have an advantage in having played twice, as they look to close the gap with the Big Blacks and move to 3-0, while securing a victory for VERY valuable Level 2 playoff points down the road.

Point Pleasant is considered the equivalent of an OHSAA Division II team, and is perceived to be set for another strong season – in spite of only nine scheduled games and replacing Payne.

The Big Blacks own the all-time series by a count of 46-37-5.


Logan at Jackson

Jackson vs Logan (On time)

After playing – and defeating – former Southeastern Ohio Athletic League charter rival Gallia Academy in this week-three spot the last two years, the Jackson Ironmen host their future season-opening opposition on Friday night.

And, it’s a blast from the past, as that would be another SEOAL charter member – the Logan Chieftains.

Only this time, with the SEOAL now defunct, Logan invades Alumni Stadium in Jackson as a non-league opponent – the first time that has happened since 1924 in the now 96th all-time meeting between the two.

Kickoff in the Apple City is set for 7 p.m.

Logan leads the all-time series 46-45-4, having finished with 26 SEOAL championships to Jackson’s 25.

The two clubs did not meet the last two years, as from 1935 through 2016 they had played continuous with the exception of three times – in 1978 (Logan teachers’ strike) and in 2006 and 2007 (SEOAL split into two divisions).

The all-time series scoring is also close, with Logan leading the Ironmen 1,533-1,452.

However, points in the past few campaigns – including this one – have become a premium for the Chieftains, scoring just seven in each of their losses to Tri-Valley (35-7) and Teays Valley (10-7).

Last week’s loss – which was Logan’s ninth in a row – was especially heartbreaking, as the visiting Vikings won on the strength of only a 24-yard second-quarter field goal and an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half.

The Chieftains trailed 10-7 and attempted a late game-tying field goal, but Israel Bookman’s 36-yard attempt doinked off the crossbar.

Caden McCarty
Current Team
2019, 2020
Caden McCarty has scored both of the Chiefs’ touchdowns, rushing for 181 yards on 38 carries, while quarterback Braeden Spatar has rushed for 138 yards on 41 attempts – while completing 11-of-16 passes for 78 yards.

The Ironmen, meanwhile, moved to 2-0 – after holding off Athens 31-26 in that important non-league encounter.

Jackson jumped out to a 19-0 halftime advantage, and actually held a 25-6 lead before the Bulldogs charged back – making it a one-score game with 38 seconds remaining.

The Ironmen offense improved from its sluggish season opener, as Jackson kept the ball on the ground and hammered at Athens with 28 of its 31 first-half plays coming via the run.

For the game, Jayden Spires racked up 123 yards on 24 carries, while Brice Graham gained 85 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns on 21 totes.

The Ironmen defense – especially against the run – was stout in the first half, as the offensively-challenged Chieftains are facing one of the top defensive units in all of Southeastern Ohio.

But look for Logan to bring a physicality that the Ironmen may not have seen against Athens or even Wellston, and if any coach knows Jackson’s Andy Hall well, it’s first-year Logan mentor Mike Eddy.

Eddy, the former four-year Gallia Academy coach, faced off against Hall for four years there – and defeated Jackson in the 2012 regular-season finale.


Minford at Greenup County (Ky.)

Greenup County KY vs Minford (On time)

The Minford Falcons, for the second week to open this season, put up some  impressive offensive numbers – en route to a 2-0 start.

They aim to compile even more eye-popping statistics this week, but more importantly, earn another win.

That’s because the Falcons face their toughest test to date on Friday night, crossing the river into Greenup County to take on the 2-1 Musketeers.

And, of course, Greenup County standout senior signal-caller Eli Sammons.

A week after rolling Rock Hill 43-12 and amassing 311 total yards, the speed-driven Falcons finished with a massive 544 yards and 24 first downs against Chesapeake, capturing a 54-21 triumph.

Ty Wiget
Current Team
Ty Wiget, Minford’s standout senior running back, went off for a career-best 301 yards and four scores on only 10 carries – improving upon his 121-yard, two-TD, 14-carry performance against Rock Hill.

Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis
Current Team
2019, 2020
Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis – the left-handed quarterback – had those exact same rushing stats (14-121) against the Panthers, along with two passing touchdowns on 5-of-6 attempts for 94 yards.

Speaking of quarterbacks, the Minford defense faces the tall, talented and highly-touted Sammons this week.

Sammons stands six-foot, six-inches tall and weighs 200 pounds, and already is a signee with Marshall University.

The Musketeers fell to Raceland 17-14 in their season opener, as the Rams sealed the win with a late Sammons interception.

But Sammons and Greenup gained two wins since, prevailing in a 40-36 shootout at Fleming County (Aug. 30), before rolling Montgomery County with a 54-12 romp.

Against Montgomery, Sammons threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another.

He scored on quarterback sneaks for the Musketeers’ two trips against Raceland, then accounted for five TD against Fleming – three on the ground and two via the air.

The dual-threat Sammons is once again a stark contrast in offensive philosophies, as Minford has faced run-oriented OVC clubs Rock Hill and Chesapeake.

Greenup is equivalent to an OHSAA Division III program, which potentially means valuable playoff points for the Division V Falcons – assuming they fly the ‘W’.






Games of the Week: Ironmen, Bulldogs renew old rivalry, Minford @ Chesapeake, Portsmouth @ West


Photo’s by Kent Sanborn, Tim Gearhart

Truth be told, these two should always be on each other’s schedules.

Two long-time, and old-guard, Southeastern Ohio Athletic League rivals renew their series starting on Friday night – as the Jackson Ironmen and Athens Bulldogs square off once again on the gridiron.

And, as usual with these two tradition-rich programs, there is plenty of interest and intrigue.

In a key early-season and now non-league encounter, Jackson travels to Athens with the potential of plenty of playoff points at stake.

The two have not played since a home-and-home series in 2012 and 2013, in which the Bulldogs – with current LSU quarterback and 2014 Ohio Mr. Football Joe Burrow leading them – won 21-14 (2012) and 49-0 (2013).

The two schools were charter members of the SEOAL which formed in 1925, but Athens left the league for the Tri-Valley Conference after the 2007 season – and the question has lingered since as to why they don’t play as non-conference opponents every year.

They actually did in the 2011 Division III playoffs, as both clubs entered after perfect regular seasons, with the Ironmen capturing a 27-7 victory.

But enough with past history, the focus for Friday night is the here and now inside Rutter Field in The Plains.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

The new-look Bulldogs, with new QB Joey Moore, bolted out to a 27-14 second-quarter advantage against the host Waverly Tigers.

But the Tigers shut out Athens in the second half, scoring the final 17 points to prevail 30-27 in both squads’ season openers.

Moore did his part, completing 24 passes on 38 attempts for 278 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns with one interception.

He added 60 rushing yards on 26 carries.

But the Bulldog defense didn’t stop the Tigers, specifically Waverly standout running back Payton Shoemaker.

Shoemaker shredded Athens’ run defense for 201 yards and four scores on 25 carries, scoring from 25, 22 and 18 yards away.

Athens also allowed 160 yards through the air on 26 attempts and 15 completions by Tiger quarterback Hayden Shanks.

On Friday, that high-powered Athens offense – engineered by Moore and coordinated by first-year head coach Nathan White – faces an extremely stingy Jackson defense, anchored by returning senior Brice Parks.

Parks, the reigning Southeast District Defensive Player of the Year, returns to the Ironmen after serving a one-game suspension in the season opener.

But the Ironmen didn’t miss Parks against archrival Wellston, as Jackson – in the final meeting between the long-running Jackson County rivals – stymied the Golden Rockets to only 48 total yards and did not allow an offensive touchdown.

The Red and White won 23-6, spearheaded by three first-half interceptions of Wellston quarterback R.J. Kemp.

The Ironmen ended the series scoring when they sacked Kemp in the end zone for a fourth-quarter safety.

But Jackson’s offense struggled somewhat – outside of scoring on two long first-half runs.

Jayden Spires (156 yards on 18 carries) scampered for 52 yards for the first, followed by Brice Graham (98 yards on 15 carries) galloping 51 yards for the other.

Jackson coach Andy Hall hailed his Ironmen’s defensive play, but indeed acknowledged inconsistency on offense, which must be improved in order to succeed against Athens.

Many observers are predicting a close and competitive contest, with a final score ranging in the low 20s or even high teens.

Both clubs are quite capable of big plays, but the marquee matchup will definitely be the Bulldogs’ offense against the Ironmen’s defense.


Minford at Chesapeake

Chesapeake vs Minford (On time)

Two teams coming off injury-riddled 2018 campaigns opened on the right foot this season, setting up a key early-season affair on Friday night.

Minford travels to Chesapeake in a battle of week-one winners, as kickoff at Phil Davis Stadium in Chesapeake is set for 7 p.m.

This is the first meeting between the two since 2001, as both teams impressed in their season and home openers last week.

The Panthers, in head coach Todd Knipp’s debut, defeated the Oak Hill Oaks 35-13 in the final meeting of that series.

Chesapeake rolled up a massive 365 yards on 51 rushes, including 127 on only eight carries by two-year starting quarterback Donald Richendollar.

Richendollar attempted just two passes, but his lone completion was a 25-yard touchdown to Kamren Harless, which gave the Panthers the lead.

Harless added 73 yards and three TD on 21 carries.

Minford, meanwhile, rolled Rock Hill – where Knipp was the head coach for 13 years before spending the past two as an assistant at Chesapeake.

The Falcons took advantage of big plays en route to the 43-12 rout, starting with senior Ty Wiget returning the opening kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown.

Wiget, who closed the scoring with a 68-yard TD burst, rushed for 121 yards on 14 carries – and junior quarterback Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis threw for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-17.

Minford answered both of the Redmen’s touchdowns with scores of its own, and held strong for the most part against Rock Hill’s run-oriented two-tight end T-formation offense.

This week, the Panthers present an entirely different offense against the Falcons, while Chesapeake will try to slow down the Falcons’ spread attack and speed.


Portsmouth at Portsmouth West

Portsmouth West vs Portsmouth (On time)

The two proud Portsmouth-area programs enter Friday night off opening-week wins, only adding excitement to the annual Scioto County rivalry.

This year’s installment between Portsmouth and Portsmouth West will take place in West Portsmouth, with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

The two teams have played continuous since 2001, with the Trojans holding a slim 10-9 advantage, while West won the 2002 playoff matchup – en route to advancing to the Division IV state championship game that year.

This year, the Senators are perceived to be in the midst of rebuilding, having graduated the likes of all-district first-team honorees Trevor Staggs (defensive lineman), Josh Berry (offensive all-purpose) and Garrett Hurd (running back).

West won its opener in easy fashion at Columbus KIPP Academy by 40 points (48-8), while the Trojans topped visiting Valley 32-27 in a Thursday night nail-biter.

As expected, Valley keyed on Portsmouth standout senior tailback Talyn Parker, limiting him to just 21 rushing yards on 17 carries.

However, Parker scored all five of the Trojans’ touchdowns for 30 points, including the game-winner with 38-and-a-half seconds remaining on a 10-yard pass, in which he broke an open-field tackle at the Valley 5-yard-line.

Parker also recovered a fumble in the end zone for a Portsmouth score.

Look for the young Senators to also key on Parker, and try to follow the Indians’ blueprint of surrounding and swarming him followed by gang-tackling.

An experienced West squad shut out the Trojans and Parker last season, 13-0.

But this year’s Trojans sport 14 seniors, several of which will play major roles in determining Portsmouth’s success.

However, its offensive line is young and inexperienced, and needs to improve based upon its performance against Valley.

It will face another tough test from the determined Senators, which like Valley are members of the Southern Ohio Conference Division II.






Games of the Week: Indians, Trojans open 2019 Season Thursday, Athens @ Waverly, Nelsonville-York @ Trimble, Wellston @ Jackson

Indians, Trojans open season Thursday



Photo’s by Kent Sanborn, Tim Gearhart & Shawna Ruckel

Also see game of the Week Wheelersburg @ Ironton 

As has become customary, the Valley Indians and Portsmouth Trojans are once again opening the football season in Southeastern Ohio on Thursday night.

And, with not only the one-night spotlight on almost exclusively themselves, the individual spotlight is on Portsmouth senior tailback Talyn Parker.

Talyn Parker
Current Team

Parker, the defending Division V Southeast District Offensive Player of the Year, leads the talented and highly-touted Trojans against the upstart Indians – as kickoff inside sparkling Trojan Coliseum in Portsmouth is set for 7 p.m.

Portsmouth is coming off a 7-3 regular season, and a berth in the Division V state playoffs, plus Parker returns after a 2,500-yard and 29-touchdown rushing campaign a year ago.

As part of Parker’s offensive onslaught last season, the Trojans topped the Indians 57-40 in the season-opening shootout in Lucasville, which was a back-and-forth affair for three-and-a-half quarters.

It was Portsmouth’s third consecutive victory in the series, as the Trojans have scored at least 32 points in all three.

Valley won the four previous meetings, including a 41-40 scorefest five years ago.

Thursday could be a repeat of such, as the Trojans turn to Parker – plus some other offensive weapons.

“Talyn Parker had an amazing year last year and set three school rushing records and gained all kinds of honors. But we have some other weapons than just him that we need to get the ball to if we’re going to be successful again,” said Portsmouth coach Bruce Kalb. “Let’s be honest, if you’re scouting us, you’re thinking I’m going to get eight, maybe nine, even a 10th guy in the box. We probably averaged only seven passes a game last year. We want to take some of that pressure off Talyn.”

The Indians – off a 4-6 season – were already thinking about defending Parker during Valley’s Media Day activities, per 30-year head coach Darren Crabtree.

Head Coach Darren Crabtree

Current Team

“If you guys (media) know of a way to stop Parker, please let me know,” said Crabtree. “He only rushed for over 300 yards against us last year. I know they lost some good linemen, but this is a game that we feel we can compete well in like we did last year.”


Athens at Waverly


Speaking of shootouts, Athens and Waverly will likely be just that in their season-opening affair at Waverly’s Raidiger Field.

Kickoff is set for Friday night at 7 p.m.

It’s a new opponent on the schedule for both, as both are coming off 9-1 regular seasons and state playoff appearances a year ago.

Athens is Division III, falling only at Fairland 35-31, before steamrolling through the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division and scoring no fewer than 39 points in each league tilt.

Waverly is Division IV, and only lost to Division V state semifinalist and Southern Ohio Conference Division II champion Wheelersburg.

The Tigers tallied at least 31 points in each victory.

While Waverly graduated wide receiver Easton Wolfe, the Southeast District Division IV Offensive Player of the Year, they return fellow first-team all-district all-purpose performer Payton Shoemaker.

Shoemaker, a second-team all-Ohioan, carried the ball 157 times for 1,050 yards and 10 touchdowns – while returning 24 kickoffs or punts for a combined 516 yards and one score.

In an anticipated up-and-down hurry-up battle, the Tigers may have a difference-maker in third-team all-Ohio placekicker Grayson Diener.

Diener averaged 53 yards on kickoffs with 22 touchbacks in 2018, and made 31-of-35 extra points and 3-of-4 field goals.

The Bulldogs have a new head coach in Nathan White, who has been an assistant since 2011 under the highly-successful Ryan Adams, who resigned after last year and with a coaching record of 96-27 in a dozen seasons.

Adams is the winningest football coach in Athens High history, as the Bulldogs advanced to the Division III state championship game in 2014, with that season’s Ohio Mr. Football and current LSU quarterback Joe Burrow calling the signals.

This season, Athens is replacing 19 seniors, including the TVC-Ohio Offensive Player of the Year and all-Ohio quarterback Clay Davis.

Several first-year varsity players are starting for the Bulldogs, but junior Joey Moore looks to become the next successful Green and Gold gunslinger.

Nate Trainer (46 receptions, 619 yards and 6 TD) and Peyton Gail (33 receptions, 462 yards and 1 TD) return as receivers.


Nelsonville-York at Trimble


Last year, the Trimble Tomcats torched arch-rival Nelsonville-York 34-7 in the season opener – an emphatic jump-start to their second Division VII state championship bout appearance in school history.

Only a one-point late loss in the middle of the march to Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy (21-20) prevented a perfect regular season.

The Tomcats, now a Division VI program by the narrowest of margins, seek similar – even perfect – results again.

Nelsonville-York, meanwhile, must bounce back after a rare losing campaign – a disappointing 4-6 season.

In fact, the Buckeyes have endured just two losing seasons since the 1970s – the other being four years ago after opening with a win at Trimble.

The two Athens County archrivals renew their series Saturday night – this time at Trimble inside Glouster Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

Since 2000, the Buckeyes actually lead the Tomcats in the all-time series 11-10, as Nelsonville-York had won three consecutive prior to last year.

Trimble returns eight starters on defense, including the reigning Ohio Division VII Defensive Player of the Year Sawyer Koons.

Koons – a senior linebacker – collected a massive 136 tackles including 32 for loss, as end Ian Joyce joins him in triple digits in tackles (102 and 34 for loss).

On Saturday night, Trimble tries to bottle up Buckeye backfield standout Keegan Wilburn – the defending Division VI Southeast District Offensive Player of the Year.

Keegan Wilburn
Current Team

Wilburn, an Ohio University commit and first-team all-Ohioan, was a 1,000-yard running back which scored 21 of the Buckeyes’ 32 total touchdowns.

In his first three seasons of his decorated Orange and Brown career, he has amassed 2,674 rushing yards, 1,379 receiving yards and 55 trips to paydirt.

But Wilburn won’t be the only all-Ohio offensive player on the field.

Trimble senior quarterback Cameron Kittle – directing a wishbone attack – was a third-team all-stater last year, rushing for 1,018 yards and throwing for 750 more with 24 touchdowns.

He is joined in the backfield by Conner Wright, who rushed for 1,848 yards and 27 TDs.


Wellston at Jackson

All things, whether good or bad, must come to an end.

So too must the Jackson-Wellston football series, as the two Jackson County archrivals renew their matchup for the 106th and final time.

Saturday night’s series finale kicks off inside Jackson’s Alumni Stadium at 8 p.m.

It was announced exactly 18 months ago that with this year’s conclusion of the current four-year contract, the Ironmen and Golden Rockets would part ways with their week-one contest.

However, it’s been a series seriously dominated by the Ironmen, as Jackson owns a lopsided 73-26-6 advantage in the all-time tally, including winning 27 of the past 28 meetings.

Wellston’s win in 2010 snapped its infamous 19-game losing streak against the Ironmen, of which the program is traditionally two divisions larger than the Golden Rockets.

In the past 14 meetings, of Wellston’s losses, the closest the Golden Rockets got was a 21-7 decision in 2009 and a 14-0 shutout in 2005.

Since that shocker of nine years ago, the Ironmen have won every matchup by at least three touchdowns, including last season’s blowout by a count of 54-14.

On Saturday, the Ironmen are indeed heavy favorites again, as two returning all-Southeast District Division III players headline their 48-man roster, including the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in senior Brice Parks.

Brice Parks
Current Team

Jared Icenhower
Current Team
Fellow Jackson senior Jared Icenhower  – and fellow all-district first-teamer – returns as the Red and White’s quarterback.

Head Coach Andy Hall

Current Team
Jackson coach Andy Hall   begins his 11th season in the Apple City, while Mike Smith takes over the young Golden Rockets, becoming the 11th head football coach at Wellston since 1990, when the late Bill Fyffe concluded his five-year stint.

The Golden Rockets, under Fyffe in the late 1980s, won three of four meetings against Jackson, including Wellston’s last win AT Jackson in 1989.

Beginning in the 2020 campaign, the Ironmen open against Logan – and the Golden Rockets open against Oak Hill.

Also see game of the Week Wheelersburg @ Ironton