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Football Lookahead: John Marshall Plans to Make Most of Its Shot at Park

November 7, 2013
By TRACY WATSON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

After breaking a four-game losing streak a week ago against Brooke, John Marshall will be in search of an even bigger prize Friday night at Monarch Stadium when state-ranked Wheeling Park pays a visit.

The arch-rival Patriots take an 8-1 record to town in search of a first-round home playoff game at Wheeling Island Stadium next week.

However, Rick Goodrich's John Marshall team (4-5) is looking to finishing off a .500 season and put an end to the Patriots' three-game winning streak in the series, which includes last year's 62-14 pasting.

"This football game has a lot of impact on what happens to us playoff-wise," Park coach Chris Daugherty said. "Where we are going to be and who we will be playing is a direct result of this game.

"It is very important to us. There is a lot riding on it and we will need another great effort to get it done."

While the Monarchs pulled off some late-game heroics to post a thrilling 28-27 victory against the Bruins, Wheeling Park was busy thoroughly dismantling Parkersburg South by a 62-0 margin on the island.

"That was a nice win last week, but this game is just so huge for us," Goodrich said. "A win here could be phenomenal for the past, present and future of this program.

"But the bottom line is that it is also Game 10 for us, the kids need to go out, have fun, make the most of it and who knows? Stranger things have definitely happened."

The Patriots are led by senior quarterback Zach Phillips, who has been on point the past few weeks, including a 9 of 11 showing for 232 yards and three touchdowns in just a hair more than a quarter last week.

Park's other two main skill weapons also had huge nights in a short amount of playing time with Eric Banks catching four passes for 145 yards and three scores and sophomore Savion Johnson picking up 112 yards on 11 carries with two scores on the ground.

"There are just no weaknesses and they are so very talented at the skill positions," Goodrich said. "Phillips is the best quarterback we will have seen all season long.

"But really, the most overlooked part of that team is the line, on both sides of the football. Those kids really do a spectacular job protecting the quarterback and opening up big holes. Then on defense they really do a good job of letting the linebackers run free.

"No question, they're the best team we've played with very few weaknesses. We need to find a way to control the football, make them earn anything that they do get and not allow big plays."

With senior standout Trevor Hardesty bottled up for most of the night, the Monarchs still managed 184 yards and three scores on the ground against Brooke. Sophomore Chase Gump came up big with 106 yards and two of those touchdowns while classmate, and quarterback, Noah Martin added 27 yards and a score.

Martin also threw for 157 yards, including the biggest play of the game, an improbable 76-yard scoring toss to junior Alex Whorton with 1:39 to play that proved to be the game-winner.

"John Marshall doesn't make a whole lot of mistakes," Daugherty said. "And they do what they do very well. They are a football team that has gotten better every week and are playing some of their best football right now.

"This has been a back-and-forth series since it started in 1976 and has always been a very competitive rivalry football game. I think you are going to see more of that on Friday night."

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