Phillips Leads Park Past South
By TRACY WATSON
For The Intelligencer
WHEELING – There were no letdowns and nothing for Wheeling Park Coach Chris Daugherty to be concerned about.
Coming off a huge, first-time, victory against Steubenville a week earlier, some may have thought the Patriots could be ripe for the picking against visiting Parkersburg South.
With seniors Zach Phillips and Eric Banks and sophomore Savion Johnson putting on a first-half show, Wheeling Park scored 41points and racked up 357 yards enroute to a dominating 62-0 blanking of South to celebrate Senior Night at Wheeling Island Stadium.
The big three did all of their damage in the first half, before taking the rest of the night off. Philips finished 9 of 11 for 232 yards and three touchdowns; Banks caught four of those passes for 145 yards and three scores while Johnson added 112 on the ground on 11 tries and two six-pointers.
Overall, the host Patriots used a balanced offense, 263 rushing yards, 245 passing, to post a huge, 508-89, advantage in total yardage in the contest.
“We always talk about starting fast and we were able to do that (Friday),” Daugherty commented. “And it really helps a team to be able to do that with players like Zach, Eric and Savion.
“They really get after it, are great competitors and just love to play the game and it really shows.”
Park wasted little time showing its might, scoring on its first offensive play and following that up a short time later on its second possession.
Both times it was senior quarterback Zach Phillips to wide-open classmate Eric Banks, the first a 40-yard bomb deep down the center of the field and the second a lob into the far corner. Liam Casey added the PAT after the initial score, but a high snap prevented a kick on the second for a 13-0 advantage midway through the opening frame.
The lead grew to 20-0 with 2:04 to go in the frame when sophomore Savion Johnson took a handoff on third and inches, bounced off a wall of potential tacklers and kicked it outside before rolling 38 yards to the outside for the score.
It only got worse for the Wood County Patriots from there. A short time later Wheeling Park took over on its own 2 following an interception and needed just two plays to score.
Johnson busted off an 18-yard run to the 20 on first down before Phillips lofted a pass 50 yards downfield that Banks hauled in behind the defense and did the rest to complete the 80-yard score.
The home standing Patriots got two more quick scores later in the half on a one-yard Johnson burst and a 22-yard fumble return by sophomore Chase Adams, who simply took the ball away from a South returner on the ensuing kickoff, just 13 seconds after Johnson went in.
Senior Nick Wolfe added a pair of second half scores for the hosts while classmate Brandon Luff also found the end zone.
“We talked all week about staying sharp after beating Steubenville,” Daugherty added. “And there were times that we weren’t, but I think I will give them a get out of jail free card on this one.
“There was just so much emotion all week after that win and the community and everyone just showered praise on the kids. I am real proud about how they came out and battled after all of that.
“And as good as the offense played, our defense did as well. Our defense has actually played very good kind of quietly all season long. The varsity defense has not given up that many points at all.
“Now we have one more left, and it is time to focus on a rivalry game with John Marshall and then go from there.”