Johnson, Patriots Put it to Monarchs
By SHAWN RINE
MOUNDSVILLE – In the storied history of Wheeling Park football, no sophomore had run for 1,000 yards.
Until Friday night at Monarch Stadium, that is.
Savion Johnson carried 25 times for an even 200 yards and scored on a 6-yard run to go into the record book, as Wheeling Park authored the school’s ninth 9-1 season with a 54-21 victory against rival John Marshall (4-6). Not bad for a kid who was only supposed to be used in situations where the other Patriots backs needed a rest.
”Our things in meetings was, this kid starts on most Wheeling Park football teams as a sophomore,” Coach Chris Daugherty said with a laugh. ”We had people that were vested, kids that played for four years, took their lumps and it was their turn.
”How good would we be right now with (injured RB) Bryce Ingram? It still hurts to say that.
”(Savion’s) success is a product of his selflessness, but also a product of his ability.”
The state is about to find out how good the Patriots are without Ingram. Park clinched at least a first-round home game in the West Virginia Class AAA playoffs, which begin next week. The time, date and opponent will be determined at Sunday’s coaches meeting in Parkersburg.
Johnson wasn’t the only one setting records.
Quarterback Zach Phillips, who missed on his first two attempts but finished 14 of 17 for 229 yards and three touchdowns, supplanted Brad Kouski as Wheeling Park’s all-time leading passer.
Eric Banks, with a seven-catch, 69-yard, one-touchdown performance, passed Seth Abraham to be the career receiving yards leader.
”I don’t know what to say,” Daugherty said. Banks ”has been a running back his whole life, but he goes out with ‘whatever is best with the team’ and things just kind of happened.
”It was kind of rough at the start, but all of a sudden things were like, boom. He caught fire and continues to get better.
”For him to break that … .”
As for Phillips, it’s been a banner season, one in which his stock has increased dramatically in the eyes of college scouts.
”What can you say about Zach? He’s thrown for 3,000 yards in two years,” Daugherty said. ”Breaking the single-season and the career mark, he deserves it.
”He’s one of the best quarterbacks in school history, if not the best.”
Not to be overlooked is the play of senior Geremy Paige, a contender for the Huff Award as the state’s top defender. Offensively, he carried the ball three times for 63 yards and three touchdowns (53, 6, 4 yards).
What makes the Patriots so good, though, is the effort of role players like Josh Angalich. All he did was catch three passes for 113 yards and two scores – 65 and 35 yards.
A four-year player, Angalich is the epitome of what this senior class has been building toward.
The Patriots sure made a believer of JM coach Rick Goodrich.
”They’re as good as I have seen,” he said. ”If they’re bigger, faster and stronger, there’s nothing you can do.
”They can score from anywhere on the field. You miss one tackle and 80 yards later they’re in the end zone.
”I don’t know how many big plays they had.”
Well, four of the Patriots’ eight touchdowns were from 17 yards or more. To further illustrate, Wheeling Park ran 61 offensive plays with 24 of them going for 10 or more yards.
”At the wideouts they have speed. At the tailbacks they have speed and the quarterback has speed,” Goodrich said. ”Their skill people are very good.
”And I have said all along that their lines do a great job.”
The Monarchs received 186 total yards (74 rushing, 98 receiving) from Trevor Hardesty, who finished his high school career, and only season, with John Marshall. He scored on runs of 26 yards (first quarter) and 32 yards (his final carry in the fourth quarter).
To Wheeling Park’s credit, however, it held Hardesty to 16 yards on his other 19 carries.
”He changed the attitude here,” Goodrich said. ”He brings all the intangibles like how to work, how to practice and making a commitment.
”He brought us together as a unit and really showed the kids how to lead. He’s going to be sorely missed.”