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Parkersburg South Patriots are back at it

After two-week break, team travels to Morgantown

Parkersburg South quarterback Robert Shockey (4) makes a move to avoid the tackle of a John Marshall defender during a regular-season game earlier this season. Shockey and the Patriots are back in action after a two week break when they travel to Morgantown for a 7 p.m. start Friday. (Photo by Josh Hughes)

PARKERSBURG — The Patriots are back in action.

After a COVID cancellation and a bye week, South faces off against Morgantown team looking to find its footing at 2-4.The Patriots’ last contest was on September 24 in a dramatic 28-25 win over John Marshall. Now, they hit the road where Morgantown’s Wing-T offense awaits. Head coach Nate Tanner’s team is excited to get back on the gridiron, and that feeling is felt throughout the program.

“I think now they’re just excited they get to play,” he said. “I think they were getting tired of just practicing. Also, there for one week, it was really weird for our varsity. We didn’t have any linemen to practice with, so we had to be innovative in our approach and in how we got things done. Our kids are just chomping at the bit to play, and I think the coaches are as well. It kind of feels like we’re at Week 1 again, where we spent so much time off.”

The Mohigans boast an offensive line built for their heavy running style, as three seniors (Cornell Brown, Dyllan Haseleu and Jaiden Evens) lead the charge up front. Head coach Sean Biser’s bunch has a stable of running backs looking to test a South defense that responded when faced with adversity against John Marshall. Carrying the rock for MHS is a player familiar with PSHS, Davon Eldridge. Last year, Eldridge gashed the Patriot defense to the tune of 188 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. That’s not all, as the Mohigans could bring in a number of names out of the backfield. Tanner says neutralizing the run starts with consistent play up front.

“You definitely have to slow down their run game. They run the traditional Wing-T and also get in the shotgun to do some Wing-T stuff out of that,” he said. “You’ve got to try and force their hand into a passing situation. That’s an objective to slowing down their offense this week. I think if we slow down their run game, that’ll help us to get stops. Schematically, our defense will change whenever we face teams that use multiple backs and multiple tight ends. On running downs, we’ll get in a 52 defense, but against teams with multiple backs and tight ends, we get in what looks like a 6-2, so basically, we’re just trying to get to the point of attack and make it tough on people to run the football.”

Coming in at No. 13 in the latest WVSSAC Class AAA ratings, South sits at 3-2. After a disappointing 2020, the Pats are back on the rise midway through this season.

However, the key to second-half success is all about finishing strong. Top performances from sophomore quarterback Robert Shockey gave South a lift and a new wrinkle in the offense. Cyrus Traugh looks to continue his impressive junior campaign, and he’s matched up with a Morgantown secondary responsible for giving up some big plays. Gage Wright was all over the field against John Marshall, amassing a fumble return for touchdown and an interception in the waning moments of the first half that stopped a JMHS threat. With South’s usual weapons playing as expected, coach tanner wants them to keep it up down the stretch. He spoke about how the team has responded in close games and how it could give them an edge.

“We don’t even speak about the playoffs. It’s just one game at a time,” Tanner said. “We’re now in the second half of our season, and it’s kind of coach-speak when everyone likes to talk about finishing, but we want to make sure we can finish as strong as we can in the second half of this year. Any time you’re battle-tested, that’s a good thing. Whenever you play a close game, whether you win or lose, you get tougher from that. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. It’s about how you deal and respond to certain situations. I think that definitely plays in our favor going forward.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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