PARKERSBURG - The most appropriate way to commemorate Parkersburg High School's silver anniversary for boys soccer would be to end the season in golden fashion.
In other words, sustain the type of tradition established by Big Red programs of the past and try to capture a seventh state title.
"That's why we're here," said Don Fosselman, who has served as the PHS head coach since the program's inception in 1988. "Our goal is very high - we raise the bar very high."
PHS graduated five starters from a squad which finished 17-5 after losing to Hurricane in the Class AAA regional finals. Topping the list was Brian Runyon, who closed out his career as the school's most prolific scorer with 120 goals and eventually signed a National Letter of Intent with Division-I Northern Kentucky University.
Last year's senior class also featured Tyler Craft, Justin Kinney, Cody Merritt, Ian West and goalkeeper Sparky Johnson.
"I think our mindset has changed - whether it was myself or the team, we were very dependent on Brian," Fosselman said. "Now we can't depend on one person. Everyone has to pitch in and play together. Every one of our kids this year is capable of scoring."
PARKERSBURG BIG REDS
Aug. 17: at Fairmont Senior, 6 p.m. (varsity only); Aug. 18: Wheeling Park, noon; Aug. 21: at Warren, 5 p.m.; Aug. 24: Washington, 5 p.m.; Aug. 25: Jefferson, 2 p.m.; Sept. 1: at Woodrow Wilson, noon; Sept. 4: at George Washington, 5:30 p.m.; Sept. 6: Capital, 5:30 p.m.; Sept. 8: at University, 2 p.m.; Sept. 15: at Morgantown, TBA; Sept. 18: at Winfield, 5:30 p.m.; Sept. 20: Ripley, 5:30 p.m.; Sept. 22: at Cabell Midland, TBA; Sept. 25: at Parkersburg South, 5 p.m.; Sept. 27: Huntington, 5:30 p.m.; Sept. 29: South Charleston, noon; Oct. 2: Parkersburg South, 5 p.m.; Oct. 6: MSAC; Oct. 9: Charleston Catholic, 5:30 p.m.; Oct. 11: at Hurricane, 5:30 p.m.
Note: Game times are junior varsity followed by varsity matches unless otherwise indicated.
Seniors: Tyler Broadwater (defender), Zac Wilcoxen (midfielder), Garrett Kruger (forward), Cameron Morris (midfielder), Aidan Kidwiler (midfielder), Adam Hilber (midfielder), Eric Scott (keeper)
Juniors: Tyler Bro (midfielder), Nick Payne (forward), Evan Rhodes (midfielder), Reid Strobl (keeper), Brandon DeCicco (defender), Jacob Hoover (keeper), Tyler Miller (defender), Tyler Parsons (midfielder), Austin Yeater (defender)
Sophomores: Adrian Burk (defender), Hunter Hill (midfielder), Tommy Logston (forward), Matt Powney (midfielder)
The torch has been passed on to senior captains Tyler Broadwater and Zac Wilcoxen, who were both recognized on the Mountain State Athletic Conference team. Wilcoxen's efforts as a midfielder also resulted in second-team, all-state honors.
"We have four to five kids who went to Boys State for their leadership, and they carry that onto the field," Fosselman said. "For example, Tyler wrote a letter to every ninth grader welcoming them to the program and explained the expectations of the program. He did that on his own."
Landing on the all-state list as an honorable mention selection was forward Garrett Kruger, who scored 12 goals and added eight assists as a junior. Senior Cameron Morris, along with juniors Tyler Bro, Nick Payne, Evan Rhodes and goalkeeper Reid Strobl, also earned a varsity letter.
In preparation for Friday's season-opener at Fairmont Senior and its home debut Saturday afternoon against Wheeling Park, PHS traveled to Columbus last week for a pair of scrimmages. The Big Reds lost to Dublin Jerome 3-1 then returned the next day to defeat Dublin Scioto 1-0.
"I was so proud with how well we did," Fosselman said. "We put the boat in the water to see where the leaks were. It gave us a nice positive experience to carry over into the season."
An addition to the schedule this season has PHS making a short roadtrip to Vincent, Ohio, next Tuesday to meet Warren, which is coached by former Big Red Andrew Johnson.
Fosselman figures Wheeling Park, George Washington and Hurricane will be the heavy hitters in the Class AAA ranks.
As for his troops, "we'll see how the season plays out," he said. "We need to stay healthy because we are not very deep. I think we will be very competitive."