PDT Sports Contributor
When you look at the amount of points that Wheelersburg’s offense has put up so far this season, it is hard to find a team that comes close to the offensive production.
That production will be tested Friday night as the Fairland Dragons will bring a high powered offense of their own into Ed Miller Stadium as the Dragons will take on Wheelersburg Friday in a nonconference matchup.
Wheelersburg is coming off of another statement win Friday night, this time against the Portsmouth Trojans. After holding a 21-14 lead at the halftime break, the Pirates shut out the Trojans in the second half en route to a 42-14 victory on the strength of 489 yards of total offense. Rob Woodward was very pleased with the way that his team dealt with adversity during the game.
“Tremendous (win for us),” Woodward said. “Portsmouth is a great program and Coach Sparks is doing things right down there. They’ve always had great athletes. I was just pleased by our kids’ effort. I told them that we would have some adversity at times and we needed to respond real well to that.”
Wheelersburg now faces a team that is similar to the Trojans in Fairland. The Dragons like to spread the field and get the ball to their skill guys on the edges. Nathan Campbell, a junior running back who also starts at safety on the defensive side of the ball, is a player to watch as he has gotten a significant amount of playing time with the Dragons since his freshman year.
“No. 45 (Campbell) is extremely fast,” Woodward said. “They (Fairland) will throw it out to him on the perimeter and he will just fly down the field.”
For Wheelersburg, Eddie Miller III is on pace to have one of the most prolific seasons of any player in Pirate history. Through three games, Miller has completed exactly 70 percent of his passes for 610 yards and has tallied seven touchdowns to two interceptions. Along with his passing statistics, Miller has rushed for 319 yards on just 33 carries for six touchdowns.
Dylan Miller is having a standout year himself as he has caught 24 balls for 374 yards (more than 15 yards per catch) and has accounted for four of the seven touchdowns through the air. Tyler Claxon has added 154 yards receiving on 10 catches while adding two scores of his own.
“Teams are going to try and take away some of the things that we do, but the nice thing about our offense is that we have a lot of guys that we can spread the ball around to and can make big plays,” Woodward said.
According to Woodward, even though Wheelersburg averages a shade over 43 points per game and Fairland sits just behind at 37 points per game, the key to winning this matchup will not be about the high-powered offenses, but it will be about the defensive personnel and how they can stop these offensive machines.
Woodward says that in order to slow down the Dragon offense, the defense will have to be aware of where Fairland’s skill guys are at all times to be successful in stopping their attack while the offense will have to take advantage of scoring opportunities.
“It’s just going to take the recognition of where their athletes are,” Woodward said. “We have to make sure that we’re scoring on every opportunity that we get because their defense does allow 37 points per game as well, so we have to take advantage of our scoring opportunities and limit theirs as much as possible.”
The Pirates have the defensive personnel to do just that – and the statistics more than back it up.
The Wheelersburg defense has taken somewhat of a backseat to the Pirates’ offensive fireworks, but the Pirates have only given up 46 points through three games, which is an average of a little more than 15 points per game.
“We’ve got some new faces that are getting a shot to play defensively for us and I think we are getting better each and every week,” Woodward said. “We need to do a little better job on our tackling, and on securing the tackles when we get an opportunity, but I thought we did a great job last week on the perimeter of flying to the football. Defensively, I think our guys are rising to the challenge.”
Wheelersburg and Fairland have played each other every year since the 2010 season. The Pirates have won all three meetings, including last year’s 42-7 triumph, which is the largest margin of defeat so far of the three games.
UNDER THE LIGHTS
PDT Sports Report
West (0-3) @ Rock Hill (0-3)
West looks to right the ship Friday night on the road against a reeling Rock Hill squad. The Senators have started 0-3 for the second consecutive season. West has been out scored by a combined 109-56 through three games.
The Senators are coming off a 33-6 home loss to Liberty Union.
West’s Austin Bricker averaged 3.4 yards per carry as he had 21 attempts for 72 yards. Sophomore John Berry gained 48 yards on four attempts for the Senators.
Like West, Rock Hill is winless after the first three weeks of the season. The Redmen have been outscored 138-8 through the first three contest. Rock Hill is coming off of a 38-0 shutout against Oak Hill. Since 2008, the Redmen have a 7-38 record.
Alexander (1-2) @ Waverly (1-2)
Waverly returns home after a two-game road trip in which both contests resulted in a loss for the Tigers.
Waverly began the trip by dropping a contest to Jackson 68-0 before finishing the trip with a loss to Washing Courthouse 24-14. The lone win came as Waverly rallied to defeat Piketon 14-7 in it’s home opener.
The Tigers welcome Alexander to town as Waverly prepares for a three-game home stand.
Like the Tigers, the Spartans are 1-2 on the season. Alexander is also on a two-game losing streak, which includes a road loss, 32-7, to Oak Hill.
The Tigers picked up a road win over the Spartans, 28-12, last season.
Dayton Jefferson Township (0-3) @ Green (2-1)
Green will be looking to build upon its early season success as the Bobcats travel to Dayton Jefferson Township Friday.
Green lost to the Broncos, 40-7, at home last season.
Last week, the Bobcats came from behind to defeated East, 41-38, for their second win in as many weeks. The only blemish on Green’s record came in the first week of the season as the bobcats lost a road contest, 21-13, to Manchester.
The Broncos have lost all three games by double digits to start the season, which includes two shutouts. Dayton Jefferson Township has been outscored 115-22 during this three game skid.
The Broncos will travel to East next week while the Bobcats welcome Northwest to Franklin Furnace.
Manchester (3-0) @ East (0-3)
East returns home after a two-game road trip that saw the Tartans drop both contest. On the season, East (0-3) is looking for its first win when the Tartans welcome Manchester to town Friday night.
The outlook is not all bad for East as two of the three games were decided by five points or less. Last week, the Tartans led the majority of the contest at Green before the Bobcats came from behind to win by a field goal.
East opened up the season on the road at South Gallia, who narrowly escaped a home defeat by edging the Tartans 18-13.
The only lopsided loss came two weeks ago as East made a visit to Northwest and was handed a 39-12 defeat.
The Greyhounds enter the contest undefeated, which includes a season-opening victory, 21-13, at home against Green.
The two teams did not meet a season ago.
Oak Hill (3-0) @ Wellston (1-2)
Oak Hill has started the season 3-0 after giving up seven points in three games, which includes two shutouts.
One of those shutouts came last week as the Oaks defeated Rock Hill 38-0. The other shutout came in the opening week of the season as Oak Hill traveled to Chesapeake and walked away with a 14-0 victory.
The Oaks just completed a two-game home stand with the win over the Redmen. The first game on the home stand, Oak Hill defeated Alexander 32-7.
The Golden Rockets are coming off of their first win of the season with a 14-13 victory over Southeastern.
Wellston’s two losses are in complete contrast of each other. The Golden Rockets traveled to Jackson during the opening week and came away with a 54-18 defeat. The second week of the season and Wellston’s home opener, the Golden Rockets lost a three-point affair to South Point.
Lancaster Fisher Catholic (0-3) @ Symmes Valley (2-1)
Symmes Valley will put its undefeated streak at home on the line when Lancaster Fisher Catholic comes to town.
The Vikings, 2-1, are playing the second of back-to-back home games. Last week, Symmes Valley beat Chesapeake 21-14 to improve its home record. The other home win came in the opener as the Vikings shutout Eastern 20-0.
The Irish are looking for their first win of the season as they make their third consecutive road appearance. In the first two games of the current trip, Fisher Catholic has been outscored 76-26, which was preceded by the lone home appearance against Tuscarawas Central Catholic. The Irish dropped their home opener 60-33.
Adena (1-2) @ Piketon (0-3)
Piketon, 0-3, opened the season with a loss to Waverly, 14-7, which saw the Redstreaks take a halftime lead into the locker room.
The last two weeks have been a different story for Piketon as the Redstreaks have been defeated by double digits in both contest. Two weeks ago, Piketon dropped a home contest to Vinton County 34-20. Last week, the Redstreaks were shutout 58-0 at Minford.
Adena, 1-2, is preparing to play its fourth consecutive road game Friday at Piketon. The Warriors play five of their first six games on the road to begin the season.
Last week, Adena was beaten by Fairfield Union 40-7. The Warriors only win came two weeks ago, a 39-14 victory at River Valley.
Ironton (2-1) @ Ashland (Ky.) Paul Blazer (2-2)
Ironton will put its two-game winning streak on the line as the Fighting Tigers prepare to face the Ashland Tomcats.
Ironton, 2-1, is coming off of a 14-7 victory over Amanda-Clearcreek. The Fighting Tigers are preparing for their first road contest when they travel to Paul Blazer High School. During the three-game home stand, Ironton lost to Wheelersburg 49-12 before defeating Russell 35-14 in week two.
Ashland is coming off of a 7-6 home victory on the road against the Red Devils. The Tomcats, 2-2, have beaten Russell and Raceland while losing to Newport Central Catholic and George Washington.
West Carter (2-1) @ Greenup County (1-3)
Greenup County returns home after a three-game road trip, which saw the Musketeers win their first game in three seasons against Fleming County.
However, last week’s road trip resulted in a 55-18 set back to the Raceland Rams. Before the most recent loss, the Musketeers dropped two close contest to Lewis County and Russell to begin the season.
Greenup Co., 1-3, welcomes West Carter to town Friday.
The Comets are coming off of a two-game home stand with two victories in their possession. West Carter defeated Morgan County 30-25 last week and shutout Nicholas County 55-0 on the first game of the home stand.