Enjoyable visits to PHS, South

It’s been well documented and widely accepted that the biggest high school rivalry in West Virginia is the one between Parkersburg High School and Parkersburg South.

Let the Big Reds and Patriots meet in any sport and it’s sure to draw a crowd of fervent supporters representing each school.

It’s easy to come to the conclusion that Parkersburg is a divided community because it has two “sides” of town, each of which supports its high school.

Yet, what fans of the Big Reds and Patriots may not realize is how similar those two high schools actually are.

During the past week, it was my pleasure to spend some time at the football camps at our city’s two Class AAA schools.

What I saw at both schools was:

* A group of dedicated coaches who often work from before daylight until past dark to make sure they are doing everything humanly possible to give the young men who make up their team the best possible chance to succeed.

* Young men who are willing to sacrifice their time and their bodies to represent themselves, their teammates, their coaches, their school and their community in a violent, collision-oriented sport that requires courage to play.

* Teams trying to make the most of the facilities they have been provided, even though those facilities are in need of major upgrades and repairs.

* A group of optimistic coaches and athletes who approach the season positively. Both PHS and South had losing records last year and failed to make the playoffs.

But no one is talking or thinking about last year. It’s this year that is the focus. You won’t find a coach or athlete at either school that doesn’t want or expect to win.

Coaches have a saying that those who have the most invested are the last to surrender. If you’ve invested an entire year into building up your body, your skills and your knowledge of the game, it’s likely the word surrender isn’t in your vocabulary.

Rather the words I heard most around both Stadium Field and the Erickson All-Sports Facility were winning season, playoffs, and yes, state championship. And why not? If you don’t set your goals high, you likely won’t attain them.

I thoroughly enjoyed my conversations with several members of both teams.

I met a young man who is a member of the Big Reds who spent time at Yale this summer. I met a young man who is a member of the Patriots who plans to attend Harvard next year.

Both represent their schools in multiple sports. Yet, both put in the time to make sure they also are at the head of their academic class as well as their athletic class.

I met one young man who works on his family’s farm, yet he never misses a practice and is one of the hardest workers during those training sessions, a trait he no doubt learned at home.

Spend time at both schools and you can’t help but be impressed by the quality of people in both football programs.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newandsentinel.com