Run-heavy Trojans take ‘Heiland’ road


Portsmouth junior Chase Heiland (2) rushed for 258 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, and caught four passes for 40 yards and one touchdown, in the Trojans’ 59-29 non-league football victory over Valley on Thursday night at Portsmouth’s Trojan Coliseum.

Ed Litteral | Daily Times

PORTSMOUTH — Many times for the past five football seasons, the Portsmouth Trojans took to the air in order to amass plenty of points and yards.

This season, though, there is a ground assault underway —and on Thursday night against Valley in the annual season opener, the Trojans took the “Heiland” road.

That’s because Portsmouth piled up 406 rushing yards on 54 attempts, including junior Chase Heiland erupting for 258 yards and a hat trick of touchdown runs, as the Trojans turned a close contest into a runaway rout —pulling away from the underdog Indians 59-29 inside sparkling Trojan Coliseum.

For the Trojans, Thursday’s triumph was their seventh consecutive victory over Valley —as the two teams have played in the Thursday night season opener over a decade now.

They did not play in 2020 because of the coronavirus threat, as Portsmouth has scored at least 32 points in all seven of those wins.

More than once, including last season with throwing-style quarterback Tyler Duncan under center and skilled and athletic playmakers as wide receivers, the Trojans spread the wealth via the passing attack.

But given graduation losses to those same said athletes, and with what head coach Bruce Kalb believes is the Trojans’ top strength, Portsmouth playing power football is all the rage of this campaign.

Already with more experience than the young and rebuilding Indians up front, and some size to add in, the Trojans churned out 406 rushing yards as Valley simply couldn’t stop them—and only attempted seven passes.

“Those big hogs up front, and this might be the biggest we’ve been in a while, those guys really take pride in being offensive linemen,” said Kalb. “They want to be able to run the ball, they want to get downhill, they want to be physical. That’s who this team is.”

Heiland, a converted wide receiver to running back who gained an estimated 20 pounds in the offseason, benefited the most — toting 25 times, including dashing 46 yards to paydirt on a toss sweep to the right on the third play from scrimmage.

Freshman quarterback Camron Williams completed a two-point pass to senior tight end Noah Livingston, the Trojans led 8-0 only a minute and 22 seconds in, and never trailed in ultimately opening up a 30-point 59-29 advantage with only five minutes remaining.

The final four minutes and 57 seconds were played with the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s running-clock rule in effect, as Portsmouth posted 48 points over the final three quarters —and 51 over the game’s final 37 minutes and 47 seconds.

No doubt, it was a different brand of offensive football fans of the Trojans are accustomed to.

“Who would have guessed all but one touchdown was on the ground? But what an effort,” raved Kalb, in his postgame media interview. “This group was chomping at the bit to get back in the weight room after last year’s week-12 loss at Ironton (in OHSAA Region 19 quarterfinals). They’ve worked their butts off, and you saw all that hard work come to fruition tonight. The way they prepared is what led to tonight. They take practice seriously, they are students of the game, they work tirelessly to meet their goals, and they went out and executed in what I thought was pretty darn good fashion.”

Heiland himself had 14 carries for 108 yards in the opening half, in which Portsmouth posted a 24-7 lead — before rushing 11 more times in the second 24 minutes, and going for 150 yards.

The Trojans took eight-and-a-half minutes off the first-quarter clock on their second series, as Heiland and Williams carried for the majority of the 14-play drive — which ended with senior and all-Southeast District Division V first-team placekicker Zach Roth making a 28-yard field goal for an 11-7 edge.

That drive was a tone-setter, as the 50-man Trojans took over —and wore down and out the 31-man Indians, which only sport one single solitary senior.

Heiland had a two-yard scoring dive to cap a seven-play and 53-yard second-quarter series, then the five-foot and five-inch and 135-pound Williams went outside — and almost untouched — for a 49-yard scoring scamper with only 2:37 left in the period.

Roth’s first extra-point kick made it 18-7, but Heiland’s and Williams’ scoring sprints of almost 50 yards apiece initially showed the Indians’ inability to get stops.

It was a repeat point of emphasis for second-year Valley head coach Nolan Crabtree.

“Their size and experience up front compared to our youth was very evident. We tried to prepare for it all week, but that’s one heckuva line they have. They know who they are and what they need to be as a team. They were that tonight. We made some stops for a while, but we ran out of gas. They absolutely wore us out,” he said. “We don’t have enough depth at this point. Playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores, guys are giving me everything they have, but as the game wore on, they wore us out. Guys on both sides playing every play up front. After a while, that ground-and-pound football, we just didn’t have enough to keep going.”

Portsmouth, though, only picked up from where it left off.

In the first 12 minutes and six seconds of the second half, Williams scored from a yard away on a quarterback sneak to end a seven-play, 52-yard march—and Levaughn Cobb capped a nine-play and 59-yard drive with a 1-yard run of his own.

Portsmouth senior Levaughn Cobb (17) takes the handoff from freshman quarterback Camron Williams (6) and scores a Trojan touchdown during Thursday night’s non-league season-opening football game against visiting Valley.

Ed Litteral | Daily Times

That made it 45-21, as Williams and Heiland hooked up for the Trojans’ touchdown toss in between —a 14-yarder with five-and-a-half minutes left in the third.

In the fourth, the Trojans tallied the final 14 points over a span of three minutes and 17 seconds —on a Heiland 45-yard dart and a 25-yard run by Nick Copley, which put the running-clock rule in effect.

Portsmouth junior Nick Copley (20) tries to break the tackle attempt of Valley’s Brenden Vice (13) during Thursday night’s non-league season-opening football game at Portsmouth High School’s Trojan Coliseum.

Courtesy of Patrick Phillips of Glory Days Photography

Roth made all five of his second-half extra-point kicks, going a perfect 6-of-6 on the night —and scoring nine points total.

Heiland hit for 24 points, and had the huge numbers night — as Williams was cool under fire for making his high school debut.

Williams was actually pressed into starting service in the preseason, following his older brother and projected starting signal-caller, junior J.T. Williams, suffering an injury.

The younger Williams rushed for 76 yards on a dozen attempts, and completed five passes for 46 yards —four of which went to Heiland for 40, and the other to Livingston for six.

Kalb commented on Williams, a refreshing perspective putting it mildly.

“Camron is a young man who at first I thought he was crazy. I asked him if he was nervous. He said, ‘No, not really.’ I thought, okay, he is 14 years old and is lying to me. But boy, he really wasn’t nervous. This is the same kid who told me once he wanted to be a bullrider when he grows up. And you have to have nerves of steel to be a bullrider. He had nerves of steel tonight,” revealed Kalb. “Did he play a perfect game? Not by any means. But you know what? He executed when he had to execute. He had a great touchdown run, his legs extended plays a few times, and he exceeded our expectations for tonight. We realized what a weapon we had going into this game, and he really showed us what he was capable of.”

Portsmouth freshman quarterback Camron Williams (6) celebrates following his 49-yard touchdown run in the second quarter of Thursday night’s non-league season-opening football victory over visiting Valley.

Ed Litteral | Daily Times

Cobb carried seven times for 32 yards, while Copley hit for 55 on five tries.

The Trojans punted just twice, both in the first half — and doubled up the Indians in first downs 23-12.

For Valley, it hung around as long as possible —thanks to two touchdowns on passing plays that covered 74 and 71 yards respectively.

On the Indians’ first play from scrimmage, sophomore QB Carson Powell found fellow sophomore Gabe McNeil in the flat —as McNeil raced untouched to the right for the 74-yard pitch-and-catch.

That was only 19 tics after the Trojans’ first TD, as Jaylen Bender booted the extra-point kick —and Valley trailed 8-7.

Then, on the final play of the second quarter, Powell’s pass was caught by Aidan Waughtel near midfield —who grabbed the pigskin over the head and shoulders of a Portsmouth defender.

Waughtel made the difficult reception, turned, and then made a mad dash toward the end zone —covering 71 yards all told.

McNeil, who scored both of the Indians’ second-half touchdowns on runs of seven and four yards, took an inside handoff for the two-point conversion run —and suddenly it was 24-15 at halftime.

The Indians even had the ball beginning the second half, but three straight incomplete Powell passes resulted in a punt —one of six for the Tribe.

“The most important play in football is always the next play. We gave two big pass plays up for touchdowns, but our defense tightened up after those, and played a pretty solid game,” said Kalb.

To Valley’s credit, the Indians only committed one penalty, seven different receivers made at least one catch, and they trailed just 45-29 with only nine minutes and nine seconds remaining.

Powell completed 12-of-25 passes for 206 yards, with four completions for 72 yards going to McNeil —who rushed a dozen times for 56 yards.

Valley junior Zach Whitt (8) tries to escape the tackle of Portsmouth junior Dylan Sanderlin (52) during Thursday night’s non-league season-opening football game at Portsmouth High School’s Trojan Coliseum.

Ed Litteral | Daily Times

But the Indians didn’t make defensive stops —simply put.

“I feel we are going to be a team that can score. It’s going to be about getting stops. We have good athletes and guys that can make plays. We had the two long pass plays for first-half touchdowns, but I was thrilled with the drives we put together in the second half. But we have to find a way to gets stops, get our defense off the field for some rest,” said Crabtree. “That’s going to be us this year. We are going to have to find ways to get over that hump. We’re going to score some points, but can we get enough stops to where we keep our defense off the field, and just give ourselves a chance. If not, our depth is going to be truly tested. I am proud of our kids for fighting hard, but they just got wore out and were outnumbered.”

The Indians host another run-oriented unit on Friday night —and out of the Ohio Valley Conference like Portsmouth.

That is the Coal Grove Hornets.

“We know what we are getting from Coal Grove. It’s trap, it’s sweep, it’s isos. They run about five, six or seven plays and just try to play physical football all the time,” said Crabtree. “We’re in for another week of figuring out ways up front to make some stops, get off the field defensively, and offensively continue to build on what we can do.”

The Trojans, meanwhile, make the short trek to West Portsmouth —and a rivalry renewal with West’s Senators.

The Senators have a rich tradition of playing physical football, and Kalb knows “what you’re getting with West”.

“We felt we handed West one last year, and they went on a roll,” he said. “West is very physical, but we’re excited to see how our physicality matches up. We’ve been very finesse the past few years and throwing the ball around, but we’re not afraid to line up and run right at you and see what we have.”

What the Trojans took on Thursday night was the “Heiland” road —via ground.

* * *

Valley — 7 8 6 8 — 29

Portsmouth 11 13 14 21— 59

P — Chase Heiland, 46-yard run (Noah Livingston pass from Camron Williams), 10:38, 1st (8-0 P)

V — Gabe McNeil, 74-yard pass from Carson Powell (Jaylen Bender kick), 10:19, 1st (8-7 P)

P —Zach Roth, 28-yard field goal, 1:42, 1st (11-7 P)

P — Chase Heiland, 2-yard run (Zach Roth kick), 4:44, 2nd (18-7 P)

P — Camron Williams, 49-yard run (pass failed), 2:37, 2nd (24-7 P)

V — Aidan Waughtel, 71-yard pass from Carson Powell (Gabe McNeil run), :00, 2nd (24-15 P)

P — Camron Williams, 1-yard run (Zach Roth kick), 8:13, 3rd (31-15 P)

V — Gabe McNeil, 7-yard run (run failed), 5:49, 3rd (31-21 P)

P — Chase Heiland, 14-yard pass from Camron Williams (Zach Roth kick), 5:27, 3rd (38-21 P)

P — Levaughn Cobb, 1-yard run (Zach Roth kick), 11:54, 4th (45-21 P)

V — Gabe McNeil, 4-yard run (Brenden Vice pass from Carson Powell), 9:09, 4th (45-29 P)

P —Chase Heiland, 45-yard run (Zach Roth kick), 8:14, 4th (52-29 P)

P — Nate Copley, 25-yard run (Zach Roth kick), 4:57, 4th (59-29 P)

Team Statistics


First downs 12 23

Scrimmage plays 40 61

Rushes-yards 13-41 54-406

Passing yards 229 46

Total yards 270 452

Cmp-Att-Int. 14-27-0 5-7-0

Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-1

Penalties-yards 1-15 6-60

Punts-Ave. 6-38.83 2-28


Individual Leaders

RUSHINGValley: Gabe McNeil 12-56 2TD, Carson Powell 1-(-15); Portsmouth: Chase Heiland 25-258 3TD, Camron Williams 12-76 2TD, Levaughn Cobb 7-32 TD, Nick Copley 5-55 TD, Dontavion Parker 2-0, Fernando Poxes 1-0, Team 2-(-15)

PASSING Valley: Carson Powell 12-25-0-206 2TD, Hunter Cunningham 2-2-0-23; Portsmouth: Camron Williams 5-7-0-46 TD

RECEIVINGValley: Gabe McNeil 4-72 TD, Aidan Waughtel 1-71 TD, Jaekyn Ridout 2-36, Zach Whitt 2-25, Nick Queen 2-14, Braxton Conway 1-14, Brenden Vice 2-(-3); Portsmouth: Chase Heiland 4-40 TD, Noah Livingston 1-6

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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