Category: Oak Hill

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
3Ethan Gail2021223013
4Drew Carter202292183
5Austin Thrapp202081252

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.

1Eli Lynch20206675990
2Jerome Mack20202937980
3Calum Brown20232236230
4Jamie Mccane20201721440
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.




Games of the Week: Pirates aim for another win after 0-2 start; Portsmouth West @ Wellston, Northwest @ Oak Hill


Photo’s by Kent Sanborn


Greenup County KY vs Wheelersburg (On time)

The Wheelersburg Pirates, and Makya Matthews, got knocked down.

Makya Matthews
Current Team

However, against Ashland last week, they got up.

Now, will Wheelersburg stay up and make something serious of its season, which started at 0-2 with blowout opening losses against Ironton and Columbus Hartley.

This week, following their dramatic 34-33 overtime comeback victory over previously-undefeated Ashland, the Pirates travel across the Ohio River into Kentucky to take on the Greenup County Musketeers.

Kickoff on “The Farm” for Friday night is set for 7:30 p.m.

The Pirates are attempting to follow the pattern of their Southern Ohio Conference Division II brethren, the Minford Falcons, whose read-option offense burned the host Musketeers for 410 yards on 43 carries last week – en route to a 45-27 win.

Greenup County comes into the contest at 2-2, and still has standout quarterback and Marshall University signee Eli Sammons.

But Wheelersburg has much-needed momentum, and the Pirates picked themselves up by rallying past the Tomcats.

Ashland scored the opening 13 points, prior to Wheelersburg scoring the next 21 over the next two quarters.

In the fourth quarter, Wheelersburg kicker Braxton Sammons booted a pair of field goals – including the 45-yarder with nine seconds remaining to force the 27-27 tie and the extra period.

Braxton Sammons
Current Team

In the overtime, the Tomcats scored first, but Matthews – who was injured against Ironton and didn’t play in the Pirates’ 44-6 loss to Columbus Hartley – had the winning touchdown run with Sammons kicking the extra point.

Matthews made a major difference, 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.

While Matthews’ return was indeed an individual highlight, Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward discussed the importance of the Pirates overcoming early-season adversity as a team.

Head Coach Rob Woodard

Current Team
“Last week’s win was huge for us. All the work our players have put in paid off in a tough battle with a great team in Ashland,” he said. “The all-out effort that was displayed by so many different players on our team showed how they have grown in the face of adversity. We have now faced top talent in the first three weeks of the season and we have to continue to improve in our level of play.”



The Pirates plan on doing that against the Musketeers.

If they can follow the Falcon blueprint, Matthews, Carson Williams (nine carries for 33 yards vs. Ashland) and Evan Horsley (12 carries for 46 yards) may have big rushing games.

Minford’s only ballcarriers, quarterback Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis (266 yards on 23 carries) and running back Ty Wiget (144 yards on 20 carries), combined for the 410 yards with the read-option attack.

In addition, a ground assault prevents the six-foot, six-inch tall Sammons from going on an aerial raid.

Sammons completed 15-of-34 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to Minford.

“Eli Sammons is an outstanding player for Greenup who can sling the ball all over the field. He is also a vital part of their running game this year,” said Woodward. “We must continue to improve and control the things we can control as a team and work to improve.”

And, another win would put the Pirates right back to 2-2 – with another important and colossal contest looming next week at undefeated Jackson.


Portsmouth West at Wellston

Wellston vs Portsmouth West (On time)

A pair of 2-1 squads looking to continue a solid start to the season meet for the fifth consecutive campaign come Friday night.

In one of the more interesting matchups this week, the Portsmouth West Senators – after defeating Jay Lucas’ current club – travel to face his former squad in the Wellston Golden Rockets.

West will also aim to extend its winning streak over Wellston to four, as this series started four years ago – with West winning the last three (34-8 in 2016, 31-6 in 2017 and 35-0 in 2018) by a combined score of 100-14.

The Golden Rockets recorded the series’ first victory – a 46-6 romp in 2015.

Kickoff inside Wellston’s C.H. Jones Field is set for 7:30 p.m.

The Senators, after a turnover-plagued performance against Portsmouth, bounced back nicely with a 21-12 triumph last week at Coal Grove.

Coal Grove is coached by Lucas, who returned to his alma mater after spending the past two seasons leading Wellston.

The Senators’ patented ground game got going with William Journey, who rushed for 112 yards on 23 carries.

William Journey
Current Team
Portsmouth West

Their defense also pitched a shutout over the final 31 minutes and 46 seconds.

The Golden Rockets, after a 23-6 season-opening setback at Jackson, have handled rebuilding programs Piketon (44-22) and Hebron Lakewood (30-7) in their two tilts since.

This will be Wellston’s first home bout this season, as the Senators are indeed a step up in competition for the Blue and Gold.

But Ben Johnson, the Senators’ head coach, knows Wellston and first-year head coach Mike Smith present a difficult challenge.

Wellston senior Rylan Molihan had his second straight 100-yard rushing game last  week – after the Golden Rockets totaled just 48 offensive yards at Jackson.

Molihan went off for 266 yards on 22 carries at Lakewood, and has three rushing touchdowns in his last two games.

“Wellston has a new coach, and they are running a lot more spread offense than what you typically would see out of a Wellston team,” said Johnson. “It’s 2-1 vs. 2-1, so it’s going to be a big game up there. We have to go to their place, it’s like this (Coal Grove) it’s a hostile environment, and we have to be ready to play our ‘A’ game.”


Northwest at Oak Hill

Oak Hill vs Northwest (On time)

For the past five seasons, this was often the game which decided the Southern Ohio Conference Division I championship.

Although, Oak Hill – thanks largely to winning the numbers game – won each of those five meetings against Northwest, part of four SOC I championships for the Oaks over the same span.

But now, Northwest is the biggest fish in the SOC-I pond, as Oak Hill has moved up to the larger-school SOC II.

Still, this week’s now non-league encounter in Oak Hill is indeed intriguing, as the Mohawks are off to a 2-1 start while the Oaks are 1-2.

Kickoff inside Oak Hill’s Davis Stadium is set for 7 p.m.

Northwest won its last two games in easy fashion (35-7 over McClain and 52-16 at Huntington), while Oak Hill – coached by first-year mentor and 2009 Northwest graduate Paul Carver – had a 20-0 shutout of Rock Hill for its first victory.

Both clubs are young overall, playing primarily juniors and sophomores and even a few freshmen, and both prefer to run the ball.

The Mohawks must defend Oak Hill senior running back Triston Diltz, who went off against the Redmen for 198 yards and two touchdowns on only 10 carries.

His two TD covered 83 yards on the first and 65 on the second.

Northwest will likely run by committee – with junior Nathan Rivers, sophomore Brayden Campbell and freshman Wyatt Brackman.

That trio combined for 417 yards on 42 carries in the Mohawks’ scalping of Huntington last week.

Oak Hill has won the last seven meetings in the series, as the two – prior to the past five years – previously played in 2007 and 2008.

Those two years were also non-league affairs, as Northwest was the one in the SOC II.

In the other six all-time meetings, Northwest has won four (1973, 1974, 1982 and 1985), while Oak Hill has taken two (1978 and 1983).

Dragons make big plays, double up Oaks


Oak Hill0701421Loss



OAK HILL – The Fairland Dragons, citing head coach Melvin Cunningham’s research, wanted to be at least plus-two in the big-play ratio on Friday night.

Simply put, they were more than just that.

The Dragons defined themselves by such terms as “pick-six”, “flea-flicker” and a “happy return”, scoring touchdowns via way of all three – en route to doubling up the Oak Hill Oaks 42-21 in a non-league football bout at Davis Stadium in Oak Hill.

Fairland’s triumph broke a 14-14 tie in the all-time series, as the Dragons – which defeated Tolsia (W. Va.) 34-12 in their opener – raised their record to 2-0.

Meanwhile, the new-look Oaks, after a 35-13 season-opening loss at Chesapeake, fell to 0-2.

The Dragons did on Friday night what they do best – burn opponents for big plays with their athleticism in open space and also with speed.

“That’s what we’re blessed with. That’s our identity,” said Cunningham. “We try to find different ways to use our athletes to their strengths. We have to do that each week.”

On Friday night, they scored on a short interception return for a touchdown, ran the old-fashioned flea-flicker for a score, and had a kickoff returned to the house for their final TD.

In addition, the Dragons’ defense did its part – stymieing the Oaks to only 59 first-half yards, along with back-to-back three-and-out series’ in building an early 14-0 advantage.

But, big plays were indeed the biggest difference.

“We preach this stat all the time, but 83-percent of the games are won by the teams that are at least plus-two in the big-play department,” said Cunningham. “We focus on making big plays, and tonight we were capable of doing so. They (Oaks) lined up the way we thought they would, and we took advantage. Our receivers did a good job attacking some things we thought we could.”

The backs didn’t do bad, either.

While Michael Stitt rushed for 83 yards on 10 carries, he made his most meaningful impact with a 15-yard interception return for a score, making it 14-0 with Emma Marshall’s second of six successful extra-point kicks.

That was with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the opening quarter, and immediately answered an Oak Hill interception of Fairland junior quarterback Max Ward at the Oaks’ 8-yard line.

Stitt later capped the Dragons’ scoring with a 68-yard kickoff return with 6:46 remaining, as the Oaks were forced to kick off from their own 20-yard line – following an offsides and a personal-foul penalty.

Oak Hill head coach Paul Carver commented as well about the Green’s good play-making ability.

“We just have to be able to stop those big plays,” he said. “We got them into some 3rd-and-longs, but we have to be prepared for big plays. Fairland is a very athletic team, they can pretty much do anything they want with athletes all over the place. We have to do a better job of getting those athletes down once they get out in space, and not give up so much over the top. They have good wide receivers, and they can run in three or four quarterbacks who can each throw the ball.”

One of those gunslingers was Ward, who started and confidently commanded Fairland’s offense, completing 11-of-18 passes for 163 yards – with five completions and 151 yards going to Gavin Hunt.

On the Dragons’ opening possession, Ward went deep to Hunt on a post pattern on 3rd-and-12, picking up 43 yards on the play from midfield.

Zander Schmidt then took the direct snap at QB, and ran around the left end for a four-yard touchdown run – and a 7-0 lead at the 7:07 mark.

The Dragons drove 65 yards in nine plays, consuming two minutes and 55 seconds off the first-quarter clock.

Schmidt and Hunt then hooked up on a flea-flicker play with a minute left in the second stanza, as Schmidt completed a 23-yard strike to Hunt for a 21-7 Fairland advantage.

That answered a short Oak Hill scoring drive – a nine-play, 36-yard march that ended with a nine-yard touchdown toss from Isaac Morgan to Alec Morgan.

Brock Harden hit the extra-point kick, slicing the Oaks’ deficit in half to 14-7.

It was as close as Oak Hill would get, though, as the Dragons then scored the next 21 points to stake their largest advantage at 35-7 with nine minutes to play.

Following Fairland’s late first-half score, the Dragons then forced a turnover on downs – when Schmidt sacked Morgan for a nine-yard loss to the Oaks’ 41 with four-and-a-half minutes left in the third.

“That was a huge play,” said Cunningham. “Zander Schmidt came off the edge and was able to make a big stop.”

On Fairland’s ensuing series, a Ward pass to Hunt picked up 13 yards and converted 4th-and-12 from the Oaks’ 42, as Stitt scored his rushing touchdown from 20 yards away, making it 28-7 at the 1:55 mark with Marshall’s fourth extra-point try.

“At that juncture, we had missed on a couple of other plays where we overthrew a guy. But when we got that stop, we knew we had to score right there, so we went for it on fourth-down,” said Cunningham. “At that point, we were trying to put the game away.”

And, in fact, you could sense it.

The Oaks then failed on a fake punt attempt at midfield, as Ward went deep to Hunt for 55 yards to the 7-yard-line on the second play following that.

“We have to know situations better and respond to those situations better. We have two fourth downs there, we have to convert those,” said Carver. “It’s little tiny things that add up.”

Hunt then helped his cause by taking the direct snap and scoring – making it 35-7 – as Oak Hill had two late rushing touchdowns, sandwiched around Stitt’s kickoff return.

Stitt also made four receptions for 28 yards, as Schmidt was 2-of-4 passing when Ward wasn’t under center.

The Dragons rushed for just 103 yards on 20 attempts, but threw for 179 and outgained the Oaks by 50 total yards (282-232).

Triston Diltz, the senior fullback and leading rusher for the Oaks, paced the hosts with 69 yards and a 10-yard scoring run on 16 attempts.

Jacob Turner tacked on the final Oak Hill touchdown, and Derrick Boggs booted the extra point with only 33 seconds remaining.

The Oaks’ reserve runners crafted a dozen-play, six-minute and six-second scoring drive, but by then it was too little and too late.

“We told our kids that they were going to move the ball, just the type of offense they run. But we did a pretty good job of tackling tonight,” said Cunningham. “In our conference, the OVC, you have to be good tacklers. You have to tackle well each week. We stress it every single day in some form or fashion.”


Speaking of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Dragons return to the road – and open OVC competition, next Friday night at Ironton.


The Fighting Tigers – the consensus preseason favorite for the conference championship – are also undefeated, having blanked Russell (Ky) 10-0.


Oak Hill hosts Rock Hill, which is also 0-2, on Friday night in another non-league bout.


*     *   *

Fairland 42, Oak Hill 21

Fairland 14 7 7 14 – 42

Oak Hill 0 7 0 14 – 21

F — Zander Schmidt, 4-yard run (Emma Marshall kick), 7:07, 1st (7-0 F)

F — Michael Stitt, 15-yard interception return (Emma Marshall kick), 2:32, 1st (14-0 F)

OH — Alec Morgan, 9-yard pass from Isaac Morgan (Brock Harden kick), 3:45, 2nd (14-7 F)

F — Gavin Hunt, 23-yard pass from Zander Schmidt (Emma Marshall kick), 1:00, 2nd (21-7 F)

F — Michael Stitt, 20-yard run (Emma Marshall kick), 1:55, 3rd (28-7 F)

F — Gavin Hunt, 13-yard run (Emma Marshall kick), 9:09, 4th (35-7 F)

OH — Triston Diltz, 10-yard run (Brock Harden kick), 6:57, 4th (35-14 F)

F — Michael Stitt, 68-yard kickoff return (Emma Marshall kick), 6:46, 4th (42-14 F)

OH — Jacob Turner, 2-yard run (Darrick Boggs kick), :33, 4th (42-21 F)

Team statistics


First downs 13 17

Plays from scrimmage 42 57

Rushes-yards 20-103 50-195

Passing yards 179 37

Total yards 282 232

Cmp-Att-Int. 13-22-1 3-7-1

Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-0

Penalties-yards 5-20 9-74

Punts-average 2-27.5 2-40


Individual Leaders

RUSHINGFairland: Michael Stitt 10-83 TD, J.D. Brumfield 5-13, Gavin Hunt 1-13 TD, Zander Schmidt 1-4 TD, Max Ward 2-(-4), Brennan West 1-(-6); Oak Hill: Triston Diltz 16-69 TD, Keaton Potter 10-46, Noah Donley 10-34, Nate Clutters 5-43, Jacob Turner 3-16 TD, Cameron Kerns 2-13, Isaac Morgan 2-(-3), Team 2-(-23)

PASSINGFairland: Max Ward 11-18-1-163, Zander Schmidt 2-4-0-16 TD; Oak Hill: Darrick Boggs 1-1-0-24, Isaac Morgan 1-4-1-9 TD, Brock Harden 1-1-0-4, Keaton Potter 0-1-0-0

RECEIVING Fairland: Gavin Hunt 5-151 TD, Michael Stitt 4-28, Brennan West 1-9, J.D. Brumfield 2-(-8), Jordan Williams 1-(-1); Oak Hill: Keaton Potter 1-24, Alec Morgan 1-9 TD, Braylon Howell 1-4

Oak Hill

Triston Diltz0000017691000
Keaton Potter01000104501240
Noah Donley0000010320000
Nate Clutters000005420000
Jacob Turner000003161000
Cameron Kerns000002120000
Isaac Morgan000002-250000
Darrick Boggs110240000000
Brock Harden14191000000
Alec Morgan00000000191
Braylon Howell11040000140
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA


2J.D. Brumfield0000051302-80
3Michael Stitt00000108314280
5Brennan West2401611-60190
7Gavin Hunt 00000113051511
8Zander Schmidt00000141000
16Max Ward1118116302-40000
6Jordan Williams000000001-10
# Defense Sacks Tackles INT FGM FGA


Date Time League Season
September 6, 2019 7:00 pm SEO 2019


Oak Hill