PHS welcomes MSAC friend Huntington
Visiting Highlanders off to a rare 0-3 start
PARKERSBURG — What was supposed to be Parkersburg’s original season opener against Huntington now will be played at 7:30 p.m. Friday inside Stadium Field as the Big Reds of head coach Mike Byus seek a three-game winning streak.
Huntington High head coach Billy Seals’ club isn’t coming to town happy as the Highlanders sport an 0-3 record, but starting tailback Kaden Sampson is expected to return and be in the lineup.
“This is unprecedented waters for us since I’ve been here,” noted Seals, whose first team in 2009 went 0-10 with 2010 marking the only other 0-3 start under his tutelage. “Our kids are out there working really hard and getting better. We had one of our better practices all year (on Tuesday). They understand it’s a process.
“Really, with only having three seniors on the field and a very young football team we are getting better. We are excited we get a chance to play again and get our fourth team in. We could be in a situation like the Kanawha County schools and in the Morgantown area. We are getting to play. We feel fortunate we are getting to play. We just have to play better.”
HHS running back Clarence Rodgers, who started last week for Sampson, was injured during that Wheeling Park game and the coach said “we’ll see how he progresses. He’ll be a game-time decision.”
Parkersburg signal-caller Bryson Singer is accounting for a little more than a third of the Big Reds’ total offense thus far.
“Obviously, the Singer kid is a really good athlete and their O-line is big and strong,” noted Seals, who is hoping his quarterback Gavin Lochow can get the offense going by getting the ball to players like tight end Eli Archer, wideouts Noah Waynick and Amari Felder along with Devin Jackson.
“He’s (Jackson) a really explosive player and we have to get the ball into his hands a little more. Eli’s a big target for us. Parkersburg has done some nice things through their first three games and coach Byus does a great job. We’re trying to get on the board with our first win. I think our kids will come out and play hard and play well.”
Kennan Curry’s long interception return for a touchdown last week against Marietta helped get momentum on the side of the Big Reds.
Along with Singer and tailback Xadrian Snodgrass, who surpassed the century mark versus the Tigers, the Big Reds will try and make continued improvement in the passing game. Carter King (5-61) and Aaron Kupfner (5-24) have been Singer’s top targets.
“Typical. Good size. They have great speed” Byus said of what he sees in the Highlanders. “They are just younger than normal. They may not be as big as the last couple of years, but they are not bad. They are a balanced offense.
“They’ve always been able to mash you in the mouth the last three years with the big linemen they had. Of course, with the speed they have they can always beat you in the passing game. You have to make sure they aren’t getting big plays on you with that kind of speed.”
The Big Red defense, which is led by Justin Waybright’s three sacks and five fumble recoveries, will be tested.
PHS has five other players aside from Waybright — Zach Howard, Casey Mahoney, Austin Fleming, Jeffrey Jones and Jake Barnette — who have multiple tackles for loss.
“We’re going to have to strap it up tight and be ready, you know,” Byus stressed. “Just execute what we do. That’s the big thing I try to convince our kids. It’s not about what they are doing, it’s about what we are doing. Stay focused and execute your job and we’ll be all right..
“Their quarterback is a quick kid. We’ll have to watch him in the run game and the pass game. He’s a dual-threat. They are very talented, just a little younger right now. Maybe they’ll make a couple mistakes if we’re patient and stay fundamentally sound and do our job.”
Contact Jay Bennett at email@example.com