It's been a little while since a John Marshall-Wheeling Park game meant as much as the one that will be played Friday night at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Monarchs (2-3) come in riding a two-game winning streak while the Patriots (3-2), who are ranked eighth in The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register Big School poll, bounced back from a loss by routing another rival, Brooke, last Friday.
''We're approaching it as Week 6,'' John Marshall coach Rick Goodrich said. ''We're looking at it as an opportunity to go out and get better.
''If you put too much on one game, it can be a season demolisher.''
File Photo by Alex Kozlowski
Wheeling Park quarterback Zach Phillips (6) and the Patriots will welcome Class AAA rival John Marshall to Wheeling Island Stadium on Friday night.
John Marshall continues to get improved play from the quarterback position as senior Jeremiah Fromhart has really taken off lately. In last week's blowout victory against East Liverpool, Fromhart completed 14 of 19 for 275 yards and three touchdowns, while also running for a pair of scores.
''He's getting better each week,'' Goodrich said. ''We knew all along he's a competitor and tough kid.
''He's making good decisions and is a great leader.''
Wheeling Park coach Chris Daugherty says that passing game is an issue.
''They kind of lull you to sleep by run, run and then take a shot downfield,'' Daugherty said. ''It's just one of those things that you don't think they are going to throw all night and then they go over top of you and we have to make sure that doesn't happen.
''They do a good job of disguising the pass.''
The Patriots also got a career performance out of their QB, junior Zach Phillips. He completed eight passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Eric Banks caught four of those for 145 yards.
''I've said all along that Zach is going to be good, it was just a matter of when,'' Daugherty said. ''That was only his fifth start and John Marshall will be his sixth. He is the type kid that will make a mistake once, but probably won't make it twice.''
Goodrich said it's tough to pin down one Patriot that an opposing team must stop.
''They're very athletic and at all the skill positions, they have speed,'' Goodrich marveled. ''One missed tackle and it's a track meet, and we're not going to win that track meet.''
The Monarchs were led defensively last week by the trio of Larry Eddy, Kolt Galentine and Fromhart. Eddy and Galentine evenly divided 20 tackles while Fromhart had eight to go along with an interception.
''Our kids are getting more physical each week and they're flying to the ball,'' Goodrich said. ''Last week, (East Liverpool's) two scores were because our offensive game them short fields.
''The thing I like about it, they handled (victory No. 2) differently. They were giddy after the first one, but this time it was more business-like.''
Daugherty hopes business doesn't continue to be good for the Monarchs.
''They are playing good solid football by blocking and tackling well,'' Daugherty said. ''It doesn't matter what kind of defense or offense you throw out there, if you are blocking and tackling well, that is going to help you win football games.
''I know Coach Goodrich stresses fundamental football and you are seeing the fruits of that labor.''
The Patriots were paced again defensively last week by tackling machine Geremy Paige. He recorded 11 tackles against the Bruins.