WHEELERSBURG — When the Wheelersburg Pirates take the field on Friday at Ed Miller Stadium, the season-long stride begins with their home opener versus Ironton.
The Pirates are coming off a 10-4 season as a Division V, Region 19 finalist in 2021.
With a large nucleus of offensive players returning, seniors Eli Jones, Eric Lattimore, Caleb Arthur, and Ethan Glover say the team’s early season practices have been positive.
As several of them mentioned at the ‘Burg fall media day, it started with a great offseason in the weight room.
“They’ve been really amazing. One of our best years in the weight room by far. We broke almost every single record in the weight room — the most people we’ve had in the 1200 lbs. club,” Jones said. “We have the strongest team we’ve had before, and a really fast team. We’ve seen that pay off here to the field and in practice.”
“The offseason’s been good. We’ve been doing a lot of work in the weight room and on the field as well,” Lattimore said. “We’ve been getting our offense and defense together, get the things right that we need to be able to go week one against Ironton.”
“It’s been great. We came up short in the playoffs last year, everyone came in this year with a chip on our shoulder,” Arthur said. “We’ve been trying to step it up and every day and give it our all in everything we do.”
“We’ve been practicing really hard. Working hard out there, putting our heads down and doing our thing. Keeping the right mindset and pushing through it.”
The returning core of players is something that each player mentioned when asked the strengths of the ‘22 Pirates team.
That includes their offensive line, quarterback in Jones, and skill positions.
“We’re going to run the football like we did last year. Have almost our entire offensive line returning which definitely helps,” Jones said. “We’re going to be able to run the ball effectively and that’s going to help open up a lot of passing opportunities with a great receiving core.”
“Our strength will be our offense. We have our whole line returning, our quarterback returning, basically everyone back,” Lattimore said. “Our defense will be pretty good as well, and we’ve always been very consistent with special teams.”
“I feel like our strengths will be offense with our offensive line, quarterback and running backs back,” Glover said. “We’ve got a defense coming back too, so we should be pretty good all-around.”
Wheelersburg opens the season in the premiere game in southern Ohio on Friday versus Ironton — their first meeting since the Pirates secured a 17-14 win in the Region 19 semifinals.
They travel to Archbishop McNicholas, Russell (Ky.), and Ashland (Ky.) in non-league play before hosting Jackson in week five.
In SOC II play, ‘Burg hosts Minford, Oak Hill, and Valley, and travels to Waverly and Portsmouth West.
“Our motto this year is step it up. We want to beat everything that we did last year, whether that’s a personal goal or a team goal,” Jones said. “We want to advance as far as we possibly can. We want to eclipse our regional final finish last year, be more improved and step up our game.”
“The goal’s always been a state championship — that’s been the goal ever since I stepped into the program,” Lattimore said. “We’re going to try and get to that goal and see where everything takes us.”
“Week one we have a big rivalry game against Ironton,” Arthur said. “That’s really what we’ve been working for is week one, and hopefully make it far in the playoffs.”
“We’ve got goals to be able make the playoffs again,” Glover said. “We made the regional final last year, hopefully we can make it back and go even farther this year.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved