South returns home
PARKERSBURG — Bridgeport football is chugging right along as usual, even after making the jump to Class AAA. Parkersburg South is struggling, at the moment.
The defending Class AA champs are looking for a fourth straight win. The Patriots are trying to snap a three-game losing streak.
The Indians are averaging 56 points per game. The Patriots have not scored more than a touchdown in a game the past two weeks.
Most importantly, Bridgeport is healthy, while South is just trying to get everyone back on the field.
Three games into a season after a year unlike most in Parkersburg South history, the problems are piling up fast for second-year head coach Nathan Tanner.
While it isn’t every day, it sure seems like every game lately a new leak springs in the dam that must be fixed. If it isn’t penalties one week, it is turnovers the next. Or possibly red zone or third down problems with everything compounding together as a new injury surfaces to the forefront.
“It is frustrating as crap. But I live by the motto ‘stuff is as never as good as you think it is and the bad stuff is never as bad as you think it is,'” Tanner said.
To his point, his staff, his kids and himself haven’t given up on making 2020 another run at the playoffs. Troubled times bring out true character, according to the head coach. And Tanner firmly believes his kids aren’t ready to resign themselves to a losing season.
“We have some really, really good kids and I don’t think they are going to quit. They play hard for the most part,” he said. “When you lose two games back-to-back like in the manner we did it is emotionally tough for teenagers to respond.
We are going to talk about that every day and keep them as dialed in as possible.”
This is good news.
The bad news is Bridgeport comes to town for a 7 p.m. Friday meeting at Erickson All-Sports Facilty. And the Indians are largely on a roll. Though they have deviated away from their traditional Triple-I to the single wing, the “outstanding” consistency in execution remains regardless of the system. Their 3-0 record certainly speaks to that according to Tanner.
“Even though it was the system I grew up running and I have a great idea what they are going to do it doesn’t matter what I know. They are discplined and really bring it from a physicality standpoint,” he said.
Only one team has managed to stay within 11 points of the Indians this year and that was rival Fairmont Senior. Robert C. Byrd and Liberty (Harrison) weren’t able to keep it under a five-score game. Needless to say, the Patriots certainly have their work cut out for them at every level of the defense. Tailback/quarterback Cameron Cole, running back John Love, and wide receiver/rusher Hayden Moore grinding out yards courtesy of the blocking of a line led by what Tanner thinks is their best player in Devin Hill makes the Indians a menace to defenses.
“All of them run the ball really hard and they are good at what they do. The team is full of high effort kids. They don’t necessarily have a bunch of super dynamic over-the-top athletes but they all play extremely well,” Tanner said.
Of course, the Patriots already have seen a running attack like this before having gone up against another very discplined foe in Cabell Midland. As such, there is a familiarity with what to watch for involving pre-snap reads and how people move in the Indians’ offense. It is something Tanner and company have impressed upon the kids in practice.
“If you just look at the football when it is snapped it will become a mess,” he said.
“The kids are going to have to repsond with physicality. And we are doing are best to get them prepared as well as possible.”
Tanner is unsure if they will have three starters back on the offensive side of the ball, including a pair of offensive linemen and wide receiver Landon Francisco.
However, he knows it is nice to get back home after a three-game rode trip with a chance to play in front of the home-town crowd again.
“It is definitely going to be nice to be at home and good to play a home game,” Tanner said. “I feel like our dudes have been focused and just haven’t got it done. Maybe EASF will give us a sense of confidence. Maybe it will help the boys more mentally than I think it will. We will prepare like we always do and get them mentally right. Being home certainly isn’t a negative.”