‘Burg, West continue mainstay in top-five of AP Poll


By Kevin Colley - kcolley@aimmediamidwest.com



Over the course of the 2017 season, the West Senators and the Wheelersburg Pirates have put up nothing less than dominant performances throughout the duration of their campaigns.

On Friday evening, both programs continued to put on the very displays that have both programs as highly touted as they are within the state lines, as Wheelersburg blitzed Waverly by a 62-20 margin after scoring 35 second-half points while West added 35 first-half points in obtaining another impressive win against Valley, 38-7.

As a result, the pair maintained their hold on the No. 2 and No. 4 positions in the Ohio AP Division V Football Poll on Monday afternoon by obtaining 219 and 159 votes, respectively, from media across the state, with Wheelersburg obtaining 10 first-place votes and West adding a first-place vote of its own.

The Pirates, who collected 602 yards of offense in the impressive 42-point triumph over the Tigers, were led by Trent Salyers, who completed exactly 60 percent of his passes en route to going 12-of-20 for 306 yards with four touchdowns on the evening. Seven of those passes went to his fellow junior classmate, Tanner Holden, who obtained 173 yards receiving on the evening. Holden collected touchdown receptions of 71 and 52 yards en route to another spectacular performance at the wide receiver position.

In addition to the duo, Dominic Reyes arguably had his best outing of the year on Friday evening, as the senior ran for 125 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries to get the Wheelersburg offense into high gear. The Pirates ended up collecting 296 yards and five touchdowns on 34 carries as a unit as Wheelersburg rushed for seven yards a carry as a unit.

Defensively, Bryson Keeney’s seven total tackles, along with six apiece from Jeremy Cooper, Alex George, and Nic Parsley, spearheaded a strong defensive attack that held Waverly to 30 yards rushing on 26 carries for the evening. Drew Kritzwiser was held to 23 yards after eclipsing the 200-yard barrier against Valley the week prior. Parsley added a sack to his total, while Xander Carmichael and Avery Donini added five tackles apiece to round out the splendid defensive performance.

For the season, Salyers has continued his outstanding output as a first-year starter by completing 94 of his 143 passes for 1,819 yards, 20 touchdowns, and four interceptions on the year. Holden, who has been incredible to a point where the wide receiver has already broken the school’s all-time receiving yards mark in a season in just seven games, has 961 yards on 44 receptions, with over a third of those catches (15) going for touchdowns. Cole Lowery has added an impressive 438 yards and two touchdowns on 33 catches to showcase his own playmaking abilities.

Overall, Reyes and Salyers have combined to collect 576 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns on 117 carries during the season to head a Wheelersburg rushing attack that has now eclipsed the 1,300-yard rushing mark through seven games. The Pirates have scored 22 rushing touchdowns on the year.

Defensively, linebackers Evan Dahm (41 tackles) and Carmichael (40 stops) have been dynamite in the 4-2-5 defensive scheme that Wheelersburg runs, while George, Donini, Keeney, and Parsley each have at least 30 tackles on the year for a unit that has held opponents to 8.6 points per contest and 453 rushing yards on 215 carries. Parsley heads the squad in sacks with two, while Holden and Makya Matthews have collected two interceptions apiece to lead the secondary.

As for West, the Senators continued to show off their excellent offensive attack against the Indians as West ran for a total of 282 yards and four touchdowns as a team on just 34 carries en route to obtaining 8.2 yards per carry on the evening.

Garrett Hurd, who has been West’s feature back all season long, was impressive once again as the junior ran for 121 yards on just 14 carries en route to obtaining a pair of scores. Cole Staggs, Dylan Bradford, Josh Berry, and Hunter Reed all rushed for well over seven yards per carry as the quartet combined to rush for 138 yards and two more touchdowns on 14 additional carries.

Bradford, who also threw for 102 yards on the evening, capped off another solid performance by completing a 19-yard pass to Sid Shifflet, and spread 83 additional yards to Hurd, Cody Staggs, and Gabe Skaggs. Drew Cassidy’s 29-yard field goal — which put the senior at six made field goals in seven attempts for the year — rounded out the scoring.

Defensively, Jakeb Guilkey’s 11 tackles led the way for West, while Berry and Ryan Spriggs added a half-dozen wrap-ups apiece for the Senators. The Staggs’, along with Skaggs, Brandon Weaver, and Cole Gilley, each obtained five tackles, while Berry and Reed each collected a sack to to round out a terrific, and collective, effort from the West defensive unit.

For the season, Bradford has helped lead the charge from the quarterback position as the junior signal-caller has accumulated 951 total yards of offense and 14 touchdowns to just two interceptions in 2017. Hurd, who is now sitting at a total of 6.1 yards per carry after his performance against Valley, has 785 yards rushing and eight touchdowns to his credit on the ground to lead West, who, as a team, has collected an impressive 1,321 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 261 carries in 2017. Hurd has added 113 yards receiving and one touchdown on seven catches for a total of 898 yards of total offense.

Berry, who has helped the Senators reach that 1,321-yard rushing total by rushing for 171 yards and a touchdown on just 34 carries, leads the team in receiving with his 291 yards receiving and three touchdowns on 13 catches, while Cody Staggs has 169 yards receiving and two touchdowns on just 10 catches. In addition to their offensive exploits, both players have also been nothing short of dominant on the defensive side of the football as Berry has collected 55 tackles, three sacks, three interceptions, and two tackles for loss on the year, while Staggs has 33 tackles, a tackle for loss, and five interceptions to his credit.

Defensively, Guilkey leads the charge with his 67 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and three sacks in 2017, while Blaine Weaver has added 52 tackles, eight additional stops behind the line, and a team-high four sacks. Skaggs, Cole Staggs, Spriggs, Isaiah Norman, and Cassidy have accumulated 48, 45, 45, 42, and 40 tackles, respectively, with Skaggs and Spriggs combining to collect five tackles for loss and two sacks on the year for a defense that has obtained 17 sacks, 11 interceptions, and a plus-eight takeaway margin over the course of the season.

As far as Week 8 is concerned, Wheelersburg and West will both face conference foes as the Pirates will travel to Minford while West will play host to Waverly. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

OHIO AP DIVISION V FOOTBALL POLL

1. Pemberville Eastwood (14) 7-0 240

2. Wheelersburg (10) 7-0 219

3. Canfield S. Range (1) 7-0 200

4. Portsmouth West (1) 7-0 159

5. Marion Pleasant 6-0 128

6. Anna 6-1 117

7. Orwell Grand Valley 7-0 95

8. Jamestown Greeneview 7-0 86

9. Archbold 6-1 70

10. Bethel-Tate 7-0 22

Others receiving 12 or more points: Sullivan Black River 16. Gahanna Columbus Academy 14.

By Kevin Colley

kcolley@aimmediamidwest.com

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