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Big Reds now will play host to Wheeling Central

Photo by Duane West Parkersburg’s Bryson Singer, left, goes up for an interception during a high school football game against Spring Valley Friday at Stadium Field.

PARKERSBURG — Mike Young and Mike Byus, the respective head coaches of Wheeling Central and Parkersburg High, are just glad to still be playing football.

Continued state regulations for COVID-19 forced both the Maroon Knights and the Big Reds to find a new opponent this week and the two programs will meet for the first time come 7 p.m. Friday inside Stadium Field.

“We didn’t know officially until Monday morning,” said Young, who gave high praise to PHS athletic director Chris Way. “I talked to coach Way and we decided. Nobody else wants to play us.

“I wanted my kids to have a game and who knows where we are going to be in a couple weeks. The bottom line is to play games and get our kids some playing time and that’s basically what we are doing.”

Parkersburg’s road game at Capital, like Central’s contest at Winfield, were both nixed.

The three-time defending Class A state champion Maroon Knights, like the Big Reds, enter the fray 0-1 after falling last week to Poca, 34-6. PHS was trumped by Spring Valley, 42-7.

“It was hard to run the football because they got three D1 prospects playing D-line,” Byus admitted of the Big Reds’ offensive struggles. “It was kind of like the perfect storm.

“It was like trying to keep patching a hole in a water hose. You patch one and another comes up. We’d protect well and run the wrong route. We’d protect well, run the right route and we’d miss the throw.”

Turnovers plagued Central last week as coach Young used both Payton Marling and Michael Toepfer at quarterback. Tailback Jordan Waterhouse wasn’t at 100% and finished with six carries for 36 yards.

“It’s good to get back on the field when you don’t play well and you know you can play a little better,” said Byus, who watched Bryson Singer get a pick, Austin Fleming register a sack and Zach Howard make team-highs of 10 total stops with eight solo tackles.

“We’re just trying to get after it at practice and work on what we didn’t do well and make strides and make improvements. That’s what we always try to accomplish. We’re just trying to get better every day and every game. We’re trying to get better.”

Despite being a single-A team, Byus knows the Big Reds must do better in all facets of the game to get their first victory of the season.

“Our defense was on the field like the whole game it seemed like,” Byus added. “Poca is a heckuva football team. I imagine unless we make them throw they will continue to run. We are going to have to do a good job in our assignments.

“Today (Tuesday’s practice) wasn’t bad. It was hot. It challenged them a little bit. For us, we need to establish some kind of running game, for sure, so we can get some play-action in there, too, and get into our read-pass game. We just never got into a flow offensively the other night at all.”

The last time Wheeling Central played at Stadium Field was in coach Young’s first season back in 2005 when the Maroon Knights beat Parkersburg Catholic, 21-6, in the single-A state quarterfinals.

“We both played very good football teams,” coach Young added. “I think one of the best teams in the state is Spring Valley and one of the other best teams in the state is Poca and we’re the third rung down.

“We didn’t have a scrimmage and you make your biggest improvement between the first and second game. They got a great program down there, a great facility, a veteran quarterback coming back and huge size upfront. Our kids will line up. It’s 11 on 11 and it’s 48 minutes of four quarters of football.”

Versus SVHS, Singer completed 7 of 17 passes for 47 yards as the red and white finished with 30 ground yards on 19 attempts. Running back Xadrian Snodgrass had five carries for minus-1 yard.

“We’re going to have to play a heckuva lot better than we did last Friday or things won’t go well,” added Byus, who noted “Casey Mahoney and Zach Howard had great games and Kyle Hall had a good second half. Bryson came in and played well in the secondary and Keenan Curry had a good game in the secondary.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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