South looks for turnaround

Time and time again during coaches speak, one reference is usually made about focusing on the game at hand. Rarely will someone elude to future opponents.

In talking with Parkersburg South football coach Mike Eddy on the subject of this week’s season-opener against Ripley at Erickson All-Sports Facility, he became the exception rather than the norm when dissecting the schedule through Week 5’s off week.

Following Ripley, the Patriots meet University and Morgantown followed by a Warren team they had on the ropes with a three-touchdown lead late in the first half before losing 47-39.

“Those four games are not gimmes,” Eddy said. “When I sit back and look at our schedule and talk about moving forward, we need to be above .500 when Week 5 arrives. It’s a tough task.”

Eddy and his staff have spent a large portion of their practices with an emphasis on defense. They are confident with their skill positions, but areas such as the offensive and defensive line require attention.

South can go seven deep, perhaps eight if injuries take a toll on the offensive line.

“There was not a single game last year with the full starting five linemen,” Eddy said. “We always had at least one guy out of every game. We just never had that consistency.

“Our offensive line also will play the defensive line, and we’re talking about seven or right guys -that’s all there is. So depth on the offensive line is an issue.”

A change of scenery for Brendan Schwendeman could pay dividends. Last year in the season-opener against Ripley, Schwendeman rushed for what is believed to be a school record 410 yards on 18 carries. He also rushed for five touchdowns.

Schwendeman is slated to line up as a wing back and slot receiver.

“Brendan became a target – I think that’s what happened early last year and kind of zapped his confidence,” Eddy said. “The next two weeks after the Ripley game we played big, strong and physical opponents. They just pointed him out and said wherever he goes, we’re stopping that.

“This year, we’ve been able to move him around a little bit – we’ve learned how to coach him and take advantage of his skills more than we did last year. Last year, we stuck him in the backfield where everybody could see where he was all the time. We can get him the ball in space more quickly and allow him what he does best.”

Quarterback Garrett Gilkeson is another year older and shown progress at his position. Last year as a sophomore, he passed for more than 1,000 yards.

“We did a few 7-on-7s – I thought Garrett performed really well,” Eddy said. “He was making good reads and making good decisions.”

The countdown is at two days before these South players put on their uniforms for real. It’s not practice. It’s not a scrimmage.

“We feel good where we are headed as a football program,” Eddy said. “We just can’t put a stamp on it and say we’ve made it yet. We still have lot of work to do.”

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com