South back at it versus JM
PARKERSBURG — Sitting at 2-2 and ranked 17th in Class AAA, the Parkersburg South Patriots still feel like they have unfinished business.
Last week, PSHS fell last week to Parkersburg in the annual crosstown showdown, but all the focus is on John Marshall (3-1). Still, head coach Nate Tanner’s team learned a lot about itself during that loss. Down 14-6 at the break, South pushed back and got back into the game with some key defensive stops and methodical drives from the offense.
Following what he described as a “great week of practice”, Tanner is raring to get his team back on the grass on Friday night at the Erickson All-Sports Facility.
“I thought the kids played really hard until the end. I feel like we had some bad breaks, but despite that, I’m really proud of how the kids played,” he said. “We’ve studied some film and seen things we can work on. We’ve seen some things we can capitalize on, and I think we can bounce back.”
A year ago, South was reeling due to a number of difficulties. The pandemic mixed with a laundry list of injuries put the team in a tough spot. Now, Tanner and company believe they can respond through this adversity. Offensively, PSHS’s numbers are anchored by top play from skill positions. Quarterback Robert Shockey is hitting his stride and using weapons like Cyrus Traugh, Triston Walker and Gage Wright. The defense heavily rebounded after a slow start against PHS, and the emphasis on keeping track of assignments shows the defense’s improvement from week to week.
“If you look at Robert’s performance from Friday and compare it to the previous weeks, it’s kind of the M.O. of what we’ve been saying throughout the year,” Tanner said of his sophomore QB. “He’s been getter better and better every week. I think last Friday was a unique opportunity for him. It was his first big rivalry game, and emotions are sky high. With all that, there’s naturally a feeling to have more pressure on you. He was really clutch at several points in that game.”
Down 14-0 with little time remaining in the first half, Shockey took the offense down the field to score before the break.
That resolve is what the team carries in spades. The same can be said about the defense. Wright leads the way with 41 total tackles and is a spark plug for the Patriots. Brayden Whipkey, Braeden Hamilton, Turner Garretson and Trent Parsons all serve as leaders on that side of the ball, and their play is helping South stay on its toes.
“Our team defense has done really well,” Tanner said. “It’s definitely come a long way from last year. Myself and my defensive coordinator Evan Campbell, put in a lot of time this offseason just ironing stuff out. We talked about scheme, and how we’re going to teach. What we wanted to put an emphasis on was being tough to deal with in the run game. Every week this year, we’ve outgained them in rushing, and I don’t think we’ve given up a 100-yard rusher yet.”
The Monarchs have a high-octane attack Tanner is familiar with, and having coached against them the past couple years, he has a good idea who his team will need to shut down. That stout run defense will need to stay true to form. Running back Ben McCardle leads the way for JMHS.
“From seeing them the past two years, I’d say they’re a typical John Marshall team,” he said. “They’re solid up front and have great kids. They play hard. They get after it. They have a good ground attack, and anytime you face a team that runs the ball well, you have to do everything you can to slow the game down. Defensively, they’re solid. It goes back to the grit I’ve seen on film.”
Contact Josh Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org