South Hopes to Close Gap
PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg South coach Mike Eddy and company know the challenges of competing in Class AAA very well.
“It’s been disappointing for us the last two years. The last two years we’ve missed the playoffs by a tenth of a point. In both of those seasons we kind of put our selves behind in the beginning of the year,” Eddy said. “But I’m really proud of the guys. They’ve held on, they’ve battled, they put themselves in a position to maybe have a chance to be in the playoffs. So for us, getting off to a strong start this year is going to be extremely important so we don’t put ourselves behind.”
A large aspect of the success on this Patriots team will be how the returning seniors play this year. Many have been with the team all four years of their high school career, and Coach Eddy expects that veteran experience to really show up on the field this season.
“We have a very veteran group of kids,” Eddy said. “This senior class, most of them started as freshmen and the rest of them started as sophomores. It’s a very experienced group of guys and we expect a lot out of them.”
That game experience is not only exclusive to the senior class because many of the players on this 2018 roster are returning from the prior 2017 season. You could expect that all of them are looking to contribute for their team this year. This experience from both the seniors and the other classes on the roster has been very beneficial to South in getting back into preparing for the upcoming season.
“A lot of returning guys, and that’s really helped us early in this season because we’ve been able to get so much done so quickly.” Eddy said. “We’re able to get on to more things because they just have that kind of experience.”
South’s roster includes 52 players showing up to the field this season. There are 28 upperclassmen on the team (which includes juniors and seniors). This means that South is working with a smaller pool of athletes than usual this season, but Mike Eddy considers this a very solid group of players.
“Our numbers are considerably lower than what you would normally expect, but I really like the 52 guys we got,” he said. “It’s a really good locker room this year. The guys have really bought into each other and that’s extremely important.”
Two of the key players on this roster are seniors Nick Yoho and Brayden Mooney. Yoho plays on both the offensive and defensive sides for the Patriots. His leadership is known by his coaches and teammates.
“A lot of what we do goes through Nick Yoho. Nick plays offense, defense and he’s also our punter. So he does a lot of things for us,” Eddy said. “This football team runs through him a lot. So he’s extremely important to us.”
Mooney is the quarterback for South.
“We run a multiple offense. We ask our quarterback to be a runner as well as a passer,” Eddy said. “His success and failure also has a lot to do with what we do.”
A main goal moving forward for South is to utilize the veteran high school football experience that is expected from the players on this roster. Another interesting aspect often overlooked on a team like South’s is how the new additions to the team grow and develop this season.
“Every year you got three or four different guys that come out who haven’t played since junior high or maybe haven’t played at all. So that development is always interesting to see how those guys do,” Eddy said.
“When you’re out here running around in T-shirts, everyone looks good in a T-shirt but that’s not how you play football. So next week, once we get our pads on and we’re able to have some live practice and guys are really running into each other and playing the game, then you can really find out how those new guys have not only progressed mentally but if they’re physically tough enough for the kind of game this is.”
The opening game for South will be at home against Ripley. This is a matchup that has been played in prior years by both schools, and South plans to come out strong.
“Ripley will be our first game and they’ve beaten us the last two years. So obviously that’s weighing in the back of your mind,” Eddy said. “You want to come out and not just get a fast start to your season, but you kind of want to avenge those last two years of losses.”
There will be challenges that come with fighting for a spot in the playoffs in a very competitive conference and Mike Eddy believes that his team can come together this season and get solid results.
“We’re extremely excited this year. We got a lot of guys coming back and we feel like it’s a very talented group,” Eddy said. “We’re going to be a little smaller on the offensive and defensive line but that’s not new to us. So we know how to handle that and our guys know what to expect from that. We feel like we got a really strong group of skilled players. So we feel pretty talented and we feel pretty excited about it.”