Category: Wellston

Fighting Tigers welcome Wellston in Region 19 quarters

Fighting Tigers welcome Wellston in Region 19 quarters

By Paul Boggs

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If Ironton is — or even was — on a so-called “revenge tour” for 2019, it accomplished its initial goal.
That was winning the Ohio Valley Conference championship, as the talented and highly-touted Fighting Tigers turned aside seven squads en route to rolling through the league.

But now, of course, Ironton indeed — admittedly — has higher accomplishments in mind, such as capturing the Division V Region 19 championship…and even eyeing a state title.

The first step in the second season of its “tour de revenge” takes place on Saturday inside the friendly confines of Ironton’s Tanks Memorial Stadium — when Wellston makes the trek down winding Route 93 for a regional quarterfinal.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., on what will surely be a cold — but electric — night in Ironton.

The 9-1 Fighting Tigers are the top-seeded club in Region 19 — having steamrolled their final two games to not only win the OVC outright, but also assure themselves of favorable siting for the remaining two regional tilts.

The state playoffs are obviously overly-familiar for the Fighting Tiger program, as its now 35 all-time appearances are tied for second-most in Ohio High School Athletic Association history with Cincinnati Moeller.

Only Newark Catholic, with 36 including this year, leads Moeller and Ironton.

The Fighting Tigers are 45-32 all-time in the tournament, as they have reached the state championship game eight times — while winning titles in 1979 and 1989.

Ironton indeed is viewed as a massive favorite for Saturday night’s outcome, as the 7-3 and eighth-seeded Golden Rockets are making just their third all-time playoff appearance — with the others being in 2004 and 2006.

Ironton head coach Trevon Pendleton, completing his second season, said his Fighting Tigers take every opponent seriously — and explained that last year’s finish fuels fire for motivation this time around.

The Tigers lost their final three games to end at 6-5, including the Region 19 quarterfinal at top-seeded and eventual state runner-up Johnstown-Monroe.

Head Coach Trevon Pendleton

Current Team
Ironton
Past Teams
Portsmouth West
“We’re going to prepare for them (Wellston) just like we would any other opponent, and we’ll be ready to play come Saturday night. We play in a lot of big games here at Ironton, and no game is going to be too big for our kids. Just understanding what it feels like to lose a playoff game more than anything, that’s motivated them all year long and it’s going to continue through these playoffs,” said Pendleton. “And any time our guys can play in front of the hometown crowd, they really enjoy it.”

Wellston went 7-3 in its previous playoff campaigns, as it then lost handily in regional quarterfinals to teams near Wheeling (40-6 at Bellaire in 2004 and 41-0 at Martins Ferry).

Some observers believe that this year’s result at Ironton could be along those lines…or even worse.
While Wellston first-year head coach Mike Smith knows his Golden Rockets are overwhelming underdogs, they have approached this entire season as such.

“When we (Wellston coaching staff) came here, we walked into a situation blind, and we didn’t really know what to expect. We found out that we have a few nice athletes, we started putting some things together, and one thing has led to another. These kids have really bought into everything we’ve asked them to do,” said Smith. “We’re absolutely tickled to death to be in the playoffs, and it’s been a while since the first two. We’re not even supposed to be here. So we have absolutely nothing to lose, and we’re going to go down there and play as hard as we can and see what happens.”

The Blue and Gold’s turnaround includes going from 3-7 last year to 7-3 this year, and going into its week-10 rivalry game at Vinton County with a chance to play for a share of the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division championship.
Part of that was a six-game winning streak in the middle of the season, as all three losses (Jackson in Division III, Athens in Division III and Vinton County in Division IV) were against larger schools.

The Golden Rockets sport just six seniors, spearheaded by four-year starter Rylan Molihan (5-9, 170, sr.), who has rushed for 1,160 yards and 11 touchdowns on 160 carries.

#
11
Name
Rylan Molihan
Position
2020
Current Team
Wellston
Leagues
SEO, TVC-Ohio
Seasons
2019
Molihan handles most of the kickoff and punt returns, and also has 10 receptions for 96 yards and a trip to paydirt out of the backfield.

Hunter Smith — a six-foot, five-inch, 170-pound junior — has 31 receptions for 469 yards and nine touchdowns.
But Ironton’s impressive, even elite, first-team defense has not allowed more than one touchdown in regulation time in any one game all season.

Ashland, in the Fighting Tigers’ lone setback, scored in overtime to prevail 16-10.

Offensively, in the regular season, Reid Carrico carried 172 times for 13 yards shy of 1,000, and caught 13 passes for 312 yards.
Gage Salyers, the senior quarterback, has completed 57 passes on 110 attempts for 1,173 yards and nine touchdowns — two of which last week went for 69 and 67.

“When you look at Ironton on film, you try to find a weakness, or maybe somewhere that you can attack offensively, but they are very solid. Both defensively and offensively,” said Smith. “They don’t make mistakes. They don’t turn the ball over. They play a very well-rounded solid football game. We are going to have to play our best game to have a chance.”

Smith said it would aid the Golden Rockets’ cause if they can force an early turnover or two and score off a short field — or even benefit from any significant penalties in which Ironton has been whistled for at times.

“We’re going to have to get a turnover, maybe a kickoff return, maybe a punt return, something that builds some momentum,” he said. “They just have a really good team. Their backs are good, their quarterback is good, their offensive line is good, their defense is good. They don’t do anything fancy, everything is just well-executed and well-coached. They are bigger than we are, and if we don’t tackle well or aren’t in position to make plays and stop the run, then they are going to run over us. It’s going to be a tough job. Ironton is just a really nice team.”

That is, or even was, on a so-called “revenge tour” for 2019.

That second season starts Saturday night.

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

Key games involve Jackson County clubs

 

By PAUL BOGGS

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

PlayerPositionATTRUYDSTD
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.

RankPlayerPositionRECREYDSTD
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.

 

#
3
Name
Keegan Wilburn
Position
2020
Current Team
Nelsonville-York
Leagues
SEO, TVC-Ohio
Seasons
2019
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.

 

#
11
Name
Rylan Molihan
Position
2020
Current Team
Wellston
Leagues
SEO, TVC-Ohio
Seasons
2019
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.

#
4
Name
Mikey Seel
Position
2020
Current Team
Nelsonville-York
Leagues
SEO, TVC-Ohio
Seasons
2019

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.

RankPlayerPositionRECREYDSTDFGA
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

By PAUL BOGGS

Photo’s by Kent Sanborn

 

Greenup County KY vs Wheelersburg (On time)

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

#
29
Name
Makya Matthews
Current Team
Wheelersburg
Leagues
SEO, SOC2
Seasons
2019

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.

#
80
Name
Braxton Sammons
Position
2022
Current Team
Wheelersburg
Leagues
SEO, SOC2
Seasons
2019

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
Wheelersburg
“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.

#
13
Name
William Journey
Height
5-07
Weight
160
Current Team
Portsmouth West
Leagues
SEO, SOC2
Seasons
2019

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).

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

Indians, Trojans open season Thursday

 

By PAUL BOGGS

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.

#
1
Name
Talyn Parker
Position
2020
Height
5-11
Weight
195
Current Team
Portsmouth
Leagues
OVC, SEO
Seasons
2019

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
Valley

“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.

#
3
Name
Keegan Wilburn
Position
2020
Current Team
Nelsonville-York
Leagues
SEO, TVC-Ohio
Seasons
2019

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.

#
25
Name
Brice Parks
Position
2020
Height
5-10
Weight
190
Current Team
Jackson
Leagues
FAC, SEO
Seasons
2019

#
12
Name
Jared Icenhower
Position
2020
Height
6-00
Weight
185
Current Team
Jackson
Leagues
FAC, SEO
Seasons
2019
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
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