PHS set to entertain Spring Mills
PARKERSBURG — Former Magnolia head coach Josh Sims, who guided the Blue Eagles to the 2015 Class A state championship, recently made a trek to the Mid-Ohio Valley.
He’s hoping his No. 9 seed Spring Mills Cardinals (5-2) will get a chance to square off against No. 8 Parkersburg (6-2) come 1:30 p.m. Sunday in a Class AAA state opening round affair inside Stadium Field.
Of course, at this time of year a football program will take any advantage it can get on the gridiron.
Spring Mills definitely has that as PHS fourth-year head coach Mike Byus’ club entered the week in orange on the state color county map. However, the Cardinals moved into gold.
Now, the Big Reds have to wait for the 5 p.m. Saturday map and if Wood County is still orange, the red and white will have to forfeit.
“We ended up losing our last three games because of the color map,” said Sims, whose squad is led by dual-threat signal-caller Keon Padmore-Johnson (1,732 yards passing, 20 TDs, 1 INT; 907 rush yards, 10 TDs) and tailback Chase Henson (team-high 80 stops, 308 yards rushing, 303 yards receiving, 15 total TDs). “Our last game we beat Ripley 43-14 (on Oct. 16).
“We were feeling pretty good about where we were at, especially offensively. Our quarterback has been phenomenal. We’re still trying to build a lot of things. (Receivers) Jake McCarren (29-518-7) has had a very solid year and so has Jameer Hunter (16-558-6).”
Just now in year eight of its existence, Spring Mills has reached the playoffs in six straight seasons, which includes last year’s first postseason win against Greenbrier East.
Coach Byus has returned PHS back to the 16-team field for a fourth successive campaign and is hoping for the best.
“The numbers have went up every day this week so it isn’t looking good,” he said. “Nobody can see the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The Big Reds finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak, but last played two weeks ago against Jefferson. The annual rivalry game set for last week against Parkersburg South was called off.
If Sims and the Cardinals make a return trip to the MOV, it will mark the second time the two schools have met. PHS won a regular season home game against SMHS last fall, 27-7.
“Of course they are disappointed. I’m sure South kids are disappointed,” Byus said of not facing the Patriots.
“The seniors wanted to play. Win, lose or draw you want to play in your rivalry game. That’s a memory for life, both sides.”
Junior quarterback Bryson Singer continues to lead PHS with 1,235 yards rushing and 14 TDs. He’s also thrown for nearly 700 yards with a baker’s dozen TD tosses against four picks. Big Red Justin Waybright leads the area with 17 sacks and six fumble recoveries.
“They definitely finished the season on a very good stretch,” coach Sims admitted of the Big Reds. “Obviously, we are very concerned about that quarterback and what he can do scrambling around and running the football.
“I’ve said it all the time and it’s kind of been cemented even more for me watching Keon. The running quarterback who can run around and extend plays with his legs, it’s hard to prepare for. Doing our best and trying to scheme and corral him and not let him get out on the perimeter.”
Coach Byus feels the same way about Padmore-Johnson as he noted “we’ve had two bonus days really” with the game being pushed back to Sunday.
“They run more H-back than we do,” Byus said of the Cardinal offense. “They are going to look by alignment very similar.
“They are going to run QB counter and speed sweeps, a lot of the same spread offensive type things.”
The plan for Spring Mills, assuming the game is on, is to get up early, eat a good breakfast and hit the road.
“We played up at Ripley there and that trip was really good for our team in a bonding sense and getting out on the road and getting the nice buses. We’re looking forward to the long trip,” said the Cardinal head man of the four-plus hour trek.
If by chance Wood County moves to gold and Berkeley County slips into orange on the Saturday map, Spring Mills would still be awarded a forfeit and advance to the state quarterfinals.
“If we play, well, it’s a big game so you are going to have to run the football well and limit your turnovers,” Byus added. “Big game and playoff football.”
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org