Patriots Look for Bounce Back Vs. Cats

Wheeling Park seemed to find itself in tough loss to University

WHEELING — In one aspect Coach Chris Daugherty feels as though his Wheeling Park football team missed a golden opportunity in last week’s 37-34 loss to University.

”Because you know they are going to go 9-1 or 10-0 now and you lost a point that could have got you a couple home playoff games,” Daugherty said.

On the flip side, Daugherty thinks he found out something more important than maybe even a victory could provide.

”I know we have talent, but I didn’t know what kind of team we had,” the coach said. ”I was excited we got down 21-0 and continued to fight. That showed me we have kids that aren’t going to give up and are going to give everything they have.

”You like to see your kids play hard. Sometimes you win and don’t have to play hard.”

The Patriots (2-2) will try to rebound from that last-second defeat at 7 on Friday night when Cambridge (2-2) pays a visit to Wheeling Island Stadium. The Bobcats have won back-to-back games against Carrollton and Coshocton after season-opening losses to Indian Creek and John Glenn.

”They are very similar to University in style, offensively, at least,” Daugherty said. ”I think that might help us a little bit.

”It’s nice to be playing someone in the valley and we’re just going to go find out who is better. Kevin (Gunn) has done a great job as coach at Cambridge.”

Wheeling Park hopes to continue its offensive balance. Quarterback Cross Wilkinson continues to put up big numbers while running backs Donnie Evans and Rennie Clark have combined to give the Patriots a 1-2 punch at running back.

Daugherty believes Park is starting to figure out its identity offensively.

”Not making excuses for the early part of the season, but when you inherit Donnie Evans you use him,” Daugherty said. ”We’ve run a one-back set for five years, so changing to a two-back set it changes things.

”And what people don’t realize is, it also changes things for Cross, too. It changes some of the routes and some of his reads.”

Defensively things are also rounding into form. The defensive ends are doing their job and the linebackers, led by Jermain Snodgrass, are flying to the football.

”He’s another kid we’ve been real happy with, but he was going to have to wait,” Daugherty said. ”We’ve had some pretty good linebackers in our program and he was stuck behind those guys.

”He’s ready and it has showed. Between he and Dylan Wood, those two guys have really stepped up.”

The secondary was thought to be a strength heading into the season and it has not disappointed. Nate Phillips is a ball-hawking corner who already has a couple INTs returned for scores, as well as two more called back by penalties.

”He’s on pace to break our school record,” Daugherty said. ”I tell you who has really come on, is Rennie.

”He has filled that Torbett role.

”We wondered ‘are we going to have that run-stopping safety,’ and I didn’t know if Rennie would do it, but and he has really come on.”

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