WHEELING - Wheeling Park coach Chris Daugherty thinks it's the perfect time of year to be playing a team like Parkersburg South.
''If we want to say we're a playoff team, we've got to line up with somebody people think might be better than us,'' he said. ''The only way to show that is beat a team that's getting ready for the playoffs. That's Parkersburg South.''
Indeed, South is 5-3 this season, with a victory against rival Parkersburg under its belt, among others.
The Wood County Patriots are 11th in this week's WVSSAC Class AAA ratings, three spots ahead of Wheeling Park, which is 14th. The gap between the two in terms of points is minuscule.
Still, that's another reason why Daugherty likes this opponent at this time. Playing a team that's out of it would accomplish very little, particularly if you're still aiming to move up those ratings..
''They've got some nice wins behind them,'' Daugherty said. ''South coach Jon Bolen) is going to put the kids out there. They're going to do the right things, that's for sure.''
Looking at South stastically, Jordan Quiocho is the leading rusher with 80 carries for 543 yards and four touchdowns, followed by Braxton Johnson (43-257-3). In all, five different ballcarriers have more than 201 yards on the season.
Quarterback Tyler Bolen has completed 46 of 98 passes for 581 yards and five touchdowns. He's been intercepted six times.
The leading receiver is Johnson with 18 catches for 279 yards, an average of 15.5 per catch. Logan Cox has caught 12 passes for 172 yards, 14.3 per catch.
''They're a lot like us when you look at it,'' Daugherty said. ''It's not a one-man show. Three kids that will touch the ball pretty consistently unless they get one guy going.
''That's how we do it. Whatever's working, we're going to stick with it. It's a pretty unselfish group of kids.''
South has shown a lot of formations - double tight, wing, spread, one back - which has given defenses fits because the players have made it look easier than it really is.
''Their run theory stays intact,'' Daugherty said. ''They just do it out of a lot of different formations.''
As far as his own team is concerned, Daugherty is thrilled. The Patriots have done whatever they wanted the last few weeks, including, perhaps, silencing some critics. They've scored more than 60 in each of their last two.
''I think our defense is getting better every day and every week,'' he said. ''People talk about our offensive and defensive fronts. I thought our offensive and defensive lines played very, very well the last three weeks. Last couple of weeks have been really nice. I really do think it's a part of us catching our stride.''
With quarterback Lee Peluchette in complete grasp of things, ''we're kinda actually painting a picture we've had an idea of,'' Daugherty said.