City rivals deserving of support

Anytime two huge football rivals get together for their annual meeting, they say you can throw out the records.

Yet, fans of the two Parkersburg high school football teams are having a tough time doing that for this week’s annual Parkersburg High-Parkersburg South clash, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Erickson All-Sports Facilty.

The Big Reds enter the game with a 3-6 mark. The Patriots are 2-7.

Neither team can win the state championship, their league title, have a winning record or even a .500 season.

But both have an opportunity to salvage what has been a rough campaign by winning come Friday night, when the state’s biggest rivals will meet.

For the seniors at both schools, many of whom have spent four years lifting weights, cracking heads and giving it everything they’ve got, it may well be the last football game in which they ever will play.

Perhaps the biggest pleasure of being the local sports editor is getting to visit both football camps and getting to know the dedicated young men who wear the red and white and the blue and white.

The majority of them never will get to play college football, either because of their size or the level of their ability. But they love representing their community, their school, their family and themselves on the biggest stage high school sports can provide.

In preparing our annual tabloid section on the game, I met a young man who plans to go to Brigham Young University and become an emergency room doctor. I also encountered his best friend and teammate, who not only maintains good grades in school and plays football, but also works a job in order to help support his family. They may or may not be successful Friday night, but they will be successful in life.

Long ago, I learned to admire any young man who chooses to play this violent sport, which exposes your character more than any other. Most fans – who in tough times become cricitcs -only see the product on Friday nights. In doing so, they miss the daily practices, weightlifting sessions, conditioning drills and strategy meetings.

Parkersburg South coach Mike Eddy left a talented football team at Gallia Academy to take over a young group of Patriots with limited varsity experience. He’s spent the year trying to find players who share his passion for the game and teaching them his way of doing things.

Parkersburg High coach Don Reeves has rarely gone into a game with all his team’s available talent as injuries have taken a major toll.

No, this isn’t one of those years when local fans will fill the Wheeling Island Stadium stands come December. But let’s hope they do fill Erickson on Friday night. The stakes may not be as high as in some past years, but just the fact that is PHS-South makes them high enough.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com