Some not only played well, but carried their team. With the SOC races as tight as they are and Portsmouth playing in the SEOAL, quickly filling the holes left by graduation are as important as ever. Many of these players have varsity experience, and Friday was a chance to stand out in place of lost standouts.
Maybe the most impressive showing was West's Austin Seevers, who also had big shoes to fill. Seevers gained 187 yards and scored twice on 30 carries. If he can be a workhorse all season, West may again be in the hunt for a postseason berth. Another running back who broke out in a big way was Green's James McGuire, who totaled three touchdowns and 153 yards.
Staying in the SOC I, East also had a pair of positive debuts. Josh Bailey threw for 72 yards and two touchdowns and Dustin Bradford ran for 111 yards on just 10 carries. Like West, Wheelersburg had a big-game running back to replace, and Chris Pyles was up to the task. Pyles ran for 101 yards and a TD against a stout Ironton defense.
Quarterback Dustin Cook also had a good day. His second interception came in desperation, and he threw for 90 yards and a score. Portsmouth found some capable receivers in John Walker, John Harcha and Forrest Johnson combined for 328 receiving yards and had a touchdown apiece. Wes Jordan wasn't bad either, running for 109 yards and three TDs.
No. 1 Ironton (1-0, defeated Wheelersburg 24-21) - The Fighting Tigers again pulled off a nail-biter against Wheelersburg. Even with one less legend on the sidelines, Ironton proved it's still one of the best teams in southern Ohio.
No. 2 Portsmouth (1-0, defeated Chesapeake) 71-44 - The Trojans get plenty of points for beating the Panthers, a perennial playoff team. The defense needs to shore up, because the offense will not score 71 every game this season. By the way, how good is Shane Porter?
No. 3 West (1-0, defeated Fairland 35-28) - Dick Tipton's run-based attack didn't miss a beat, as the Senators piled up 251 yards rushing. Next week is Portsmouth, a game that will tell a lot about the two team's playoff chances.
No. 4 Valley (1-0), defeated Huntington Ross 13-6 - Darren Crabtree lamented his team's performance on offense - six turnovers and just 13 points. But, good teams win without their A game. A few less mistakes, and the Indians may have won by four touchdowns.
No. 5 Wheelersburg (0-1), lost to Ironton 24-21 - As far as measuring sticks go, Wheelersburg and Ironton again showed neither team is going to be fun to play against. The Pirates have plenty of weapons on offense and a defense that will make plays. As of right now, 1-5 are separated by very little.
No. 6 Minford (1-0, defeated Piketon 21-7) - The win made a statement. Piketon had a lot returning and Minford's defense kept a balanced Redstreaks offense in check. With the running of Trent Reynolds, Minford may again be a force in the SOC.
No. 7 Waverly (1-0, defeated Zane Trace 55-14 - The SOC II is so scary. By my count, every team has at least one game-breaker on offense. Waverly won impressively on Friday behind QB Trevor Walls' 15 of 24, 251 yard, three touchdown day.
No. 8 East (1-0, defeated Northwest 22-7) - While I'm not ready to put East ahead of the heavy-hitters in the SOC II yet, the Tartans' defense did just what Davis wanted, give up less than 20 points. Not only that, Davis surprised the Mohawks with timely passing that his team showed little of in the preseason.
No. 9 Green (1-0, defeated Buffalo 34-20) - Remember this, Buffalo went 10-0 last season. If Kevin Sheridan has finally found a way to reload at Green, the Bobcats can be in line for an SOC crown.
No. 10 Notre Dame (1-0, defeated Middletown Christian 61-2) - It's hard to judge just how good the Titans are after dismantling overmatched Middletown Christian. Notre Dame was bigger and faster, but the one-two punch of Brad Hoover and Daniel Sand looked very dangerous.
No. 11 Greenup County (1-1, lost to Russell 33-6) - Losing to defending Kentucky State Champion Russell is nothing to hang your head about. So far the Musketeers have won big and lost big. An off week will allow Greenup County to bounce back.
No. 12 - Symmes Valley (0-1, lost to Racine Southern 14-7) - If Symmes Valley can find its offense, the Vikings may again be the favorite to win the SOC I. Right now Symmes Valley is trying to find its way and win a few games.
No. 13 Piketon (0-1, lost to Minford 21-7) - It won't be 6-0, but Piketon can streak up the rankings with Green and Northwest coming up next. Piketon is still a dangerous team.
No. 14 Northwest (0-1, lost to East 22-7) - The Mohawks are hoping to make strides, but with Valley coming up in week two, it will be tough to get the season's first win this Friday.
No. 15 (Oak Hill (0-1, lost to Pomeroy Meigs 49-8) - Meigs went 7-3 in 2005, so the Oaks didn't have an easy go of it. Against Southeastern this week, Oak Hill has a good chance to get its first win in more than a season.
No. 16 Lewis County (0-2, lost to Bath County 21-0) - The Lions have yet to score a point. The drastic offensive changes coach Brandon Combs made could still be sinking in.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Shane Porter, QB, Portsmouth - The junior was unstoppable on Friday, throwing for 365 yards, completing 82 percent of passes and throwing three touchdown passes and running for two more scores. He showed flashes of his ability to carry an offense last season. Coach Curt Clifford wants to make sure the offense is diverse, but Porter will definitely make the Trojans go.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Three years off haven't hurt Darryl Davis' game planning. Not only was his defense stout, but he kept Northwest off balance with well-placed Josh Bailey passes to compliment the running of Dustin Bradford.
JASON R. CRISLER can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 242 or at email@example.com.