PHS Football Is Youthful

Big Reds finishing up three-week practice

Photo by Josh Hughes Parkersburg head coach Mike Byus addresses his team following a Thursday morning practice session on the front lawn of PHS. This was the second-to-last day of the three-week practice period.

PARKERSBURG –The Parkersburg Big Reds are finishing up their three-week workout stint and are coming off a 2018 season which saw them win in an opening round playoff clash against Wheeling Park.

That team had 26 seniors, as this three-week period goes a long way to deciding who will step up in place of that large senior class.

The challenge of competing with a younger roster starts in summertime practice sessions, and it’s a challenge head coach Mike Byus is willing to tackle head-on.

“We just wanted to take the new guys and teach them,” Byus said of the practices.

“And we wanted to take the returners and review stuff with them, so we’ve got quite a bit of stuff installed.”

Back-to-back years with postseason success got the Byus era off to a momentus start and this upcoming season’s roster turnover is something he hopes he can spin into another season with quality results.

“You’ve got to take each team as a new team,” Byus remarked.

“We’re going to be pretty young, so we have to start at the beginning and make sure the fundamentals are right.”

A schedule described as “tough” by Byus has these Big Reds focused on everything they have to do.

After all, the Big Reds defeated three teams from last season who were eventually ranked higher than them when the 2018 Class AAA playoff seedings were unveiled.

During Thursday morning’s session on the front lawn of the school, the team was divided between both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

From there, individual positions got their own coaching from assistants in the sweltering heat.

While many players hoped to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack, assistant coach Murray Mace noted he also had some work to do in regard to figuring out what his defensive alignments would look like.

Practices like the one held on Thursday go a long way into deciding what will happen.

“You know, through this three-week period, they’re still getting used to me,” Mace said. “It’s more about me trying to figure out personnel and stuff like that.”

Even though question marks persist with this year’s Big Reds, there are players on both sides of the ball who could take some of the pressure off younger, less-experienced players. Playmakers on offense such as Anthony Craig and the explosive Braeden Mason made up a receiving duo that turned heads in practice. To put an exclamation point on the day’s happenings, Mason even celebrated with a few backflips in quick succession as he concluded with practice.

Defensively, coach Byus came to the conclusion that his team “should be sound” up front. That is thanks in part to CJ Wade. Wade impressed his coaches during the last three weeks and comes into his senior season with lofty expectations in the 4-3. Plenty more players are primed to go, even in a 2019 ripe with questions. Byus and his crew are a step closer to getting answers, as the three-week practice period comes to an end.

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com.