PARKERSBURG -Even football programs that are steeped in tradition sometimes need to make changes.
For Parkersburg High School's football program -which has won as many titles as any other state school -this is one of those times.
The Big Reds haven't won a state playoff game since capturing the state title in 2007. They've compiled a 27-26 record over the last five seasons, including a 4-6 campaign last fall.
Parkersburg Big Reds starting quarterback Aaron Roberts returns this season after passing for 1,121 yards and eight touchdowns last year.
"Last year was not acceptable,'' said head coach Don Reeves, who will enter his fourth season at the Big Red helm. "It was not up to the level of our expectations.''
Thus, Reeves has made some dramatic changes heading into the 2013 season. In addition to a new weightroom regimen, the Big Reds have made a radical change in its defense. Rather than running a 4-3 alignment, they have gone to a 3-4 to take advantage of their team speed and make up for their lack of size.
Thus, Reeves was seeking the services of someone who is an expert in that setup. His first thought was former Big Red standout Dave Manzo, who has been a highly-successful high school coach in Florida. Before Reeves called Manzo, Manzo called him. He was coming back to the Mid-Ohio Valley and wanted to get involved with Big Red football.
PARKERSBURG BIG REDS
(Sites of home games subject to change)
Sept. 13:at Cabell Midland
Oct. 4:at South Charleston
Oct. 11:at Woodrow Wilson
Oct. 18:at Huntington
Oct. 25:George Washington
Nov. 1:at Riverside
Nov. 8:at Parkersburg South
Manzo, who was the quarterback on the 1976 state champion team at PHS, isn't the only new member of Reeves' coaching staff nor he is the only one with a state championship ring. Zach Nolan was a captain of the 2007 team that captured back-to-back state titles while Travis Bunner also started alongside Nolan on both of those squads.
In addition to that trio, Reeves also has added Dan Lott, a former Big Red player who served under coach Jon Bolen at Parkersburg South.
"We've got four former Big Reds who know the expectations here,'' Reeves said. "It's a nice mix. Manzo is an experienced guy. Nolan and Bunner are younger coaches who can relate to the kids.''
Offensively, Parkersburg will attempt to take advantage of its speed and quickness. The Big Reds return the services of last year's starting quarterback, Aaron Roberts, who completed 102 of 203 passes last season, good for 1,121 yards and eight touchdowns. Roberts, who will be a senior this fall, will once again enjoy the services of last year's top receiver, Dan Fox, who had a standout sophomore season, catching 29 passes for 275 yards and three scores. The top returning rusher is senior speedster Chandler Hamilton, who carries 62 times for 471 yards in a backfield dominated by Adam Lindamood, who has graduated. PHS picked up a major talent when Josh Trembly, a quarterback for Wirt County, transferred to Dudley Avenue, where he will play in the backfield, thus giving PHS a multiple talented threat. Should the Big Reds need the tough yard, they've got a pair of fullbacks to call in Melvin Stubbs and Corey Burdette.
Zach Garrison returns to anchor the line with Charley Conley, a part-time starter, also back this fall.
Defensively, returnees include Andy Nichols (end), Chase Shank (outside linebacker), Austin Brown (inside linebacker), Hamilton and Dylan Thomas (corners) and Fox (safety).
The Big Reds will enjoy the luxury of having senior Kyle Foster return at punter. Last year, he not only averaged 41 yards per punt, but he also only had four punts returned. Although placekicker Cody Roney was lost to graduation, his younger brother, Josh Roney, is ready to step into his shoes. Josh has enough athleticism to also help PHS at wide receiver and defensive back. Reeves has assigned assistant coach Paul Sparks to work with the kickers.
The numbers are good -60 varsity players, 40 freshmen from a class many believe is one of the strongest in years.
The Big Reds may not know where their first game will be played due to the ongoing construction at Stadium Field, but wherever its game with Warren takes place, Parkersburg is determined to return to restore the winning tradition of Big Red football.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org