Pirates look to sustain momentum


Chris Slone

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After squeaking by arch-rival Ironton 14-6 to begin the 2015 campaign, the Wheelersburg Pirates have been hitting their stride. Wheelersburg (3-0) won its last two games by a combined 84-8 and doesn’t appear to be slowing down as the Pirates welcome an unfamiliar foe, Cincinnati North College Hill, to town.

Despite struggling on offense in week one, Pirates head coach Rob Woodward has seen his offense find its rhythm, although he still isn’t satisfied with the status quo.

“Against Portsmouth, I thought we grew even more as an offense,” Woodward said. “I still feel like there’s room to grow and improve, and that’s what we want to try to do. We might not always start as sound but by the end of the season, we want to make sure we’re finishing and showing growth throughout the season.”

One area that has been stout since from the beginning is the defense, who hasn’t allowed more than eight points in a game over the first three weeks, including a shutout effort against the Portsmouth Trojans last week.

“Our defense did a great job last week, holding Portsmouth to under 70 yards of total offense,” Woodward said. “Those are the kinds of things we want to work towards and you’re not going to always get those good of numbers but we try to get as close as we can to being the best defense we can.”

Against North College Hill (0-3), Wheelersburg will have to limit the production of running back JuJuan Linzy who is a preseason All-State candidate. Linzy will primarily lineup out of the I-formation.

Although the Trojans present an unknown challenge for the Pirates, Woodward is remaining focused on having his team fundamentally prepared.

“We as coaches try to get ourselves as familiar with the team as we can,” Woodward said. “The thing we try to focus on with the players is them getting better themselves. We always want to make sure they’re prepared and they know what they are going to face, the guys with the big-play capabilities and who they might face.

“This week is no different. The team might be someone that we’re not accustomed too. But they still lineup 11 guys on the field and line them up in different spots, we’ve just got to get our guys to recognize those spots and where the potential threats are.”

As far as stop Linzy and the Trojan offense, Woodward said it’s all about containment.

“We’ll work to hold them back from any extra yardage,” Woodward said. “We’d like to hold them back from any extra yardage. We like to talk about no runs over 10 (yards) and no passes over 20 (yards). If we can accomplish those things and bottle up their best plays, we feel like that’ll put us in the best position to win.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.

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