Patriots face off against Tigers’ triple-option attack
PARKERSBURG — Someone will pick up their first win of the season when Parkersburg South (0-3) travels for a 7 p.m. road matchup against Princeton (0-2) Friday night.
Obviously, Patriot head coach Mike Eddy hopes it is his team grabbing victory No. 1.
“We’re not in that must-win situation just yet, although it is drawing near very quickly,” said Eddy. “We are at the point now where this is exactly where we were last year and this is the time things kind of turned around for us last year. We lost to (Wheeling Park) and Point (Pleasant), but other than that we won out. We are kind of there right now too. It isn’t a must-win game, but we are getting there quickly. There are still some big games on our schedule and we have got to start putting together some things pretty quickly.”
In order to start the kind of streak the Patriots finished the season on in 2016, they must first solve the Tigers’ triple-option offensive attack under first-year head coach Chris Pedigo.
With so many moving pieces and a large offensive line up front Eddy easily identified the task for his defense after the first film section.
“They make you play assignment-based football,” said the head coach. “We have to be ready to handle all three pieces of the option. It starts by making sure there is at least one guy responsible for all three pieces and knowing they know where they are supposed to be at all times.”
It is a situation Eddy is admittedly worried about as he knows what his defense is best at early in the season.
“What we learned about our defense is we are not a good sit-back-and-read style of defense,” he said. “Our kids play better when we are aggressive and playing downhill and bringing some pressure. The challenge for us is finding a way to be possibility-based, while being aggressive up front to create a little bit or disruption.”
The problem becomes two-fold as the Patriots’ staff doesn’t know the exact personnel Princeton is placing on the field at the skill positions.
Tigers’ wide receiver Chiron Cannady (6-2, 170 lbs.) has been the one constant for their offense this season. Eddy and his staff know Pedigo and company look to get the ball in Cannady’s hands on passing downs and let him do something with it.
Quarterbacking the team could be senior Devon Sibley, who came in during Princeton’s 62-0 loss against Class AA Bluefield two weeks ago, but Ranson Graham (who was the starting signal-caller in the opening loss to Buckhannon-Upshur) could also be lining up under center.
As for the Patriots on offense, they have enough schematics built in to the game plan they feel they can be successful. The three most important things for South are they hold on to the football after a four-turnover performance against Morgantown, put together and finish drives, and minimize penalties.
Eddy knows the Patriots aren’t “an explosive down the field style of offense,” and flags can zap any momentum they gain chewing up yards in small chunks.
They also are still searching for their identity on offense though their talent lies at the running back position with Tyee Gibson, Zane Hinzman, Hunter Shank “who really ran the ball well for us last week against Morgantown,” according to Eddy, and a hopefully healthy Nick Yoho (who separated his shoulder in the Week 2 loss to University).
This week could be the time South finally sees sustained drives on offense. Princeton’s defense is a base 4-4 scheme with Cover 3, rather common and not requiring a ton of special adjustments.
If there is a likeness between the two squads it has to be both offenses have struggled to find the end zone consistently on the season, but it mostly ends right there. Parkersburg South’s defense has found a way to keep them in games as long as possible, while the Tigers have given up a few points.
Aug. 25: lost to Ripley, 28-12
Sept. 1 lost to University, 49-24
Sept. 8: lost to Morgantown, 31-10
Sept. 15: at Princeton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22: John Marshall, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29: Point Pleasant, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6: at Brooke, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 20: Greenbrier East, 7 p.m.
Oct. 27: at Wheeling Park, 7 p.m.
Nov. 3: Parkersburg, 7 p.m.
Aug. 25: lost to Buckhannon-Upshur, 20-19
Sept. 1: lost to Bluefield, 62-0
Sept. 15: Parkersburg South, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22: Musselman, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 29: Graham, Va., 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 6: at Oak Hill, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 13: at James Monroe, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 20: Wheeling Park, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 27: at Greenbrier East, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 3: at Brooke High, 7:30 p.m.