Wheeling Park, PHS tangle one more time

PARKERSBURG — Host and eighth-rated Wheeling Park will be out to even the all-time series at 10-10-1 come Friday night when second-year head coach Mike Byus’ No. 9 Big Reds of Parkersburg invade.

Almost a certainty, the victor of this wild rematch the red and white pulled out (57-51) at Stadium Field earlier this season will be off to Coburn Field next week to take on Mountain State power and No. 1 Martinsburg.

Before worrying about the Bulldogs, the 7-3 Patriots of head coach Chris Daugherty will be out to avenge a mid-season loss suffered in the waning seconds when Big Red quarterback Jake Johnson along with wideouts Braeden Mason and Dylan Shaver executed a hook and ladder for the winning touchdown.

“We’re 3-0 against the Patriots this year so far. We are looking to make it 4-0,” quipped Byus, whose program is trying to stay even-keel after defeating the rival Patriots of Parkersburg South, 28-10, last week.

South pitched a shutout of visiting Park, 30-0, just two weeks ago. PHS, which is 6-4 despite not having a healthy Tyler Moler all season, knocked off the Patriots of George Washington, 32-7.

“Tyler got hit in the leg (against South) and he’s not even walking right now,” said Byus of his senior tailback, who is 4 stripes shy of 1,400 yards rushing. “We’ll see if he’s ready to go Friday or not.

“He took a shot in the upper calf near his knee. It’s a big stone bruise kind of thing. He’s not able to put a whole lot of pressure on it. He doesn’t practice much these days with his sports hernia. We’re just trying to get him to Friday.”

Alex Dunleavy keys Park’s dangerous and versatile attack as the triggerman at quarterback.

“Cross (Wilkinson) left as a D-I quarterback (to Toledo), what are you going to do? Boom, right back in the playoffs,” Daugherty said. “It says a lot about our kids. Says a lot about Alex Dunleavy.

“(We) felt like Alex was going to be a real good replacement. A different replacement. Obviously, he can run it and throw it and Cross is more of a gunslinger.”

Tasked with trying to slow down the third most prolific offense in Class AAA will be a Big Red defense led by Gage Fiore (81 tackles), C.J. Wade (74), Aurelius Edmonds (61), Jacob Woodyard (55) and Brenton Strange (51).

The Penn State-bound Strange, who missed two games, leads the Big Reds in tackles for loss (seven) and sacks (five).

Kionte Peacock has made seven interceptions while Strange and Hayden Morris have three picks apiece. Justin Waybright, Shane Miller and Brandon Braham, who leads the Big Reds with a quartet of forced fumbles, have a combined 10 TFLs.

“I would like to think we play a little bit better defense,” Daugherty noted. “I am sure coach (Byus) is saying the same thing. I would imagine it will be a close contest one way or another.

“I think we are very similar in how we do things, how we handle offensive football. (We’re) very similar defensively, too, to tell you the truth. At the end of the day kids are going to go out and compete. Two good football teams in round one.”

Parkersburg reached the postseason a year ago, but was upset in the first round by John Marshall.

Coach Byus knows the task at hand is far from an easy one, but he’s hoping his team can meet the challenge.

“We’ll have to go up there and play well and execute well and limit the turnovers and continue to play well defensively,” said the coach.

“It’s playoff time. We’ll have to do all those things well and hopefully the kids will be resilient and bounce back from an exciting game last week and continue to play well.”

    SCHEDULES AND RESULTS

NO. 9 BIG REDS (6-4)

Aug. 23: lost to Morgantown, 45-35

Aug. 31: lost to Cabell Midland, 40-20

Sept. 7: d. Woodrow Wilson, 28-7

Sept. 14: lost to Capital, 35-22

Sept. 21: d. Marietta, 41-28

Sept. 28: d. Wheeling Park, 57-51

Oct. 5: d. George Washington, 32-7

Oct. 12: d. Hurricane, 38-14

Oct. 26: lost to Huntington, 27-21 (OT)

Nov. 2: d. Parkersburg South, 28-10

Nov. 9: at Wheeling Park

NO. 8 PATRIOTS (7-3)

Aug. 23: d. Brooke, 66-12

Aug. 31: d. Allerdice (Pa.), 34-7

Sept. 14: d. University, 45-38

Sept. 21: d. Cambridge, 56-29

Sept. 28: lost to Parkersburg, 57-51

Oct. 5: d. Morgantown, 31-0

Oct. 12: lost to Musselman, 41-35

Oct. 19: d. Princeton, 52-20

Oct. 26: lost to Parkersburg South, 30-0

Nov. 2: d. John Marshall, 35-7

Nov. 9: Parkersburg

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