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From Patriots to Pioneers

South grid trio signs with GSC

Photos by Joe Albright Parkersburg South quarterback Brandon Penn attemps to break a combined tackle by two Greenbrier East players during a 2019 regular-season game.

PARKERSBURG — Three Parkersburg South Patriots who took major strides on the gridiron are moving on to the next level. Brandon Penn, Dylan Day and Jeffrey Tucker each knew they wanted an opportunity to keep playing, and choosing Glenville State gives them the chance to not only keep playing together, but it will also help shape their futures from an academic standpoint. Penn and Day made it official in the PSHS cafeteria on Wednesday, while Tucker signed earlier in the week. Still, all three of them were there to congratulate each other while being surrounded by friends, family and coaches.

It was Parkersburg South’s most successful football season since the 2003 championship season, and this trio helped lead the 2019 Patriots to an 11-2 record under first year head coach Nate Tanner. Through all the success each player brought to the Erickson All-Sports Facility during the breakout year, Tanner reflected on what made them so special.

“Not just those three guys, but the whole senior class laid the foundation. Those three kids really deserve what they’re getting,” he said. “A lot of kids on our team look up to those guys, and they see what they can achieve. I could probably talk for days about each of them, individually. Collectively, the big thing I’m going to remember is the relationship I had with them. More than anything, it was the amount of buying in they did when we first got started.”

The switch to a spread offense proved to be a welcome change for a South offense that averaged 42.4 points per game, and Penn led the way as the dual-threat quarterback who electrified crowds. He tossed 25 touchowns and more than 2,200 yards under center. He found similar dominance on the ground by rushing for more than 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns. Those numbers collected as a signal caller earned him the J.R. House Award (given to the state’s top quarterback). In Tanner’s system he put together a Kennedy Award campaign which saw him additionally excel as a defensive back and punter. Although Penn came up short and didn’t win the Kennedy Award, he collected first-team all-state honors as a DB. He led the team with nine interceptions, as he takes with him a wealth of talent to Glenville State.

“It’s a possibility that I’ll be playing quarterback, but I’m mostly leaning toward playing safety,” Penn said. “Everything (coach Tanner) taught me helped me take my work ethic to the next level. It makes the transition a lot easier (having teammates go with me). Even when we’re away from our family, it’s someone to lean on.”

Dylan Day scans potential defenders against John Marshall. Tucker, Day, and Penn all will attend Glenville State College and play football next fall.

In the team’s semifinal loss to Martinsburg on November 30, Penn fractured his back. Now, he says everything is healing up the way it should. Penn expects to be ready for action in the fall. He’s undecided in terms of picking a major and is using his first semester to “get the basics out of the way.”

Day was the leading receiver for the Patriots, and he achieved team-highs in each receiving category. Going for 1,027 yards on 61 catches and eight touchdowns, Day was the speedster Penn relied on when extending plays. He also found a home on special teams by coming the teams leading kick returner. He echoed the others’ comments about playing together as a team in 2019, as he’s ready to prove what he can do at GSC.

“I’ll remember the love I got from all the coaches and the team. My first couple years here, we didn’t really have the best outcomes of the season,” Day said. “Then, we had a chip on our shoulder. We wanted to be one of the top teams in the state, and through team meetings, we talked about it. I was talking with one of the coaches (At Glenville State), and he said there’s not much to do there. The team bonds well, and the team chemistry is really high.”

That feeling of brotherhood and Day’s aspirations of majoring in Physical Education and Health make this a great fit for him. He wants to become a P.E. teacher.

When Tucker arrived on the scene in 2019, it was his first year playing varsity football.

Parkersburg South’s Jeffrey Tucker (10) pursues Greenbrier East’s Kyle King in a 2019 regular-season game.

As a defensive lineman, Tucker wreaked havoc on offensive lines all across the state. He tallied 97 total tackles and a team-leading 30 tackles for loss. En route to second-team all-state defensive honors, Tucker recorded 11.5 sacks. He says the reason to play varsity football was easier when he talked to Tanner and the South coaching staff. Now, he goes to Glenville State and is studying Education.

“That was not a normal thing, especially when I didn’t play my junior year. That’s when people were being put on the board,” Tucker said of being signed despite not playing until his senior year. “I’m very lucky to have the coaches I do. I got lucky, and I’m glad I get to keep playing. I went and talked to (Tanner) and I said I didn’t know what to do. I’d played football forever and I was playing basketball and that I like it. He said to come give it a shot and lift with us. I’d come to his house at 5:30 in the morning, and we’d start lifting at 6. You would think lifting at 6 a.m. isn’t fun, but man, we had a great time.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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