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PHS, South still have plenty on the line

Both teams are coming off a loss

PARKERSBURG — Players play the game and coaches coach, but history will not be on the side of first-year Parkersburg South head man Nate Tanner when his fourth-rated Patriots take on rival and No. 11 Parkersburg High at 7 p.m. Friday inside Erickson All-Sports Facility.

Since the very first South team coached by Steve McMillion in 1967, the results have not been kind for first-year PSHS head coaches going against the Big Reds.

In fact, during the previous 10 instances of a South head coach taking on PHS for the first time, only Charlie Kupfner in 1984 (22-21 in overtime) and Lou Nocida in 1990 (26-9) emerged victorious.

“It’s just going to be a different group of kids trying to win a ball game,” said PHS head coach Mike Byus, who is attempting to defeat the Patriots for a third straight year. “All that stuff (previous success) is for media.

“I think they (South) are pretty balanced. The quarterback (Brandon Penn) runs well. We’ve faced several teams this year with good running quarterbacks. They are definitely not one dimensional.”

Along with Penn and his top target Dylan Day, the Patriots also boast 1,000-yard running back Devin Gaines.

The 8-1 Patriots are coming off their first setback of the campaign, a 35-27 loss at Wheeling Park.

“Our kids are really, really going to hone in on the little things we got to do better,” Tanner said of practice this week. “We’re pretty healthy. Braxton (Amos) sprained his ankle in the Morgantown game and has been playing through it, but he’s been a little gimpy.

“I saw on film a couple (PHS) kids had gone out. I wasn’t sure why. I told our kids I felt like we were getting a little complacent the last two weeks. Friday night (against Wheeling Park) we dug ourselves a hole we couldn’t get out of.”

The 5-4 Big Reds are coming off a 44-13 loss at Stadium Field to Huntington, which lost to PSHS back on Oct. 4 when the Patriots picked up a 30-21 road victory.

“They got good size and good speed. They are having a hecukva year and we’re going to have to play our best,” admitted Byus, who noted quarterback Bryson Singer, tailback Anthony Craig and defensive lineman Caleb Frazier are banged up. “I feel like once a year you play your best game and once a year you play your worst game. We definitely played our worst game Friday night and I give a lot of that credit to Huntington.

“When you play a good football team you have to play well and earn what you get. You can’t have missed blocking assignments, missed tackles, you can’t do all that. It’s a rivalry game and they are going to be focused. The kids always play hard. I’m not worried about that. I take the blame for not getting our team prepared to play last Friday. That’s my fault.”

No matter the outcome, both teams already have clinched a spot in the Class AAA postseason. The Patriots will be at home in the opening round no matter what and there’s still a chance if PHS wins the Big Reds could even host a playoff game.

“A lot of stuff on film we saw where we got exposed some and things we got to clean up and get better at. If we do that it will help us improve as a team,” Tanner added.

“My first PHS-South rivalry game, I’m looking forward to it. They are always fun. The elephant in the room is emotions get high. Our kids will have to do a good job of keeping that in check and treating it like any other game and just staying focused on the task at hand.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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