Trojans take down Panthers


Portsmouth junior running back Chase Heiland (2) had 236 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in the Trojans’ 28-6 Ohio Valley Conference football victory over visiting Chesapeake on Friday night.

Courtesy of Ryan Walker | The Ironton Tribune

PORTSMOUTH — The Portsmouth Trojans, first for Friday night, donned uniforms of the United States military.

They then showed the visiting Chesapeake Panthers just who in fact was in charge.

That’s because the Trojans pitched a defensive shutout for the opening 37 minutes and six seconds, and junior running back Chase Heiland hit for 236 rushing yards and two touchdowns, as Portsmouth pummeled the Panthers 28-6 in a key Ohio Valley Conference clash inside spectacular Trojan Coliseum.

It was the Trojans’ third win in four weeks in fact, with OVC victories over Rock Hill (28-27 in overtime) and Coal Grove (14-6) going well down to the wire.

This one wasn’t however, as Portsmouth forced three Panther turnovers —and the converted wideout Heiland had his best rushing performance since the season opener and a 59-29 win over Valley.

Heiland had a career-best 258 yards on 25 carries and a hat trick of touchdowns that night, as Friday night’s work was accomplished in 24 attempts — with touchdown runs of one and 27 yards that bookended the Trojans’ TDs.

Heiland also had the run-oriented Trojans’ lone reception—a 15-yarder in the first half from freshman Camron Williams, as Portsmouth attempted nary a pass in the entire second half.

But, when one is controlling the line of scrimmage such as the Trojans were on both sides, there’s really no need to throw.

Zach Roth made all four of his extra-point attempts, as the Trojans raised their record to 4-3 —and to 2-1 in the OVC, with a critical contest at current league second-place Fairland for Friday night.

The win was also important for Portsmouth’s playoff hopes, as the Trojans entered the contest sitting 17th in the official Ohio High School Athletic Association Division V Region 19 computer ratings —with the Panthers (18th) right behind them.

The top 16 teams in each region at regular season’s end qualify for the state playoffs, as with Tuesday’s release of the latest computer rankings —Portsmouth jumped to 14th and Chesapeake fell back to 20th.

The Panthers did start the season 3-0, but have dropped all four of their OVC affairs.

Still, defending Chesapeake’s unique offense of veteran head coach Todd Knipp isn’t easy —per PHS sixth-year head coach Bruce Kalb.

That’s why winning the wars up front was so vital.

“Defensively, that offense is hard to mimic in practice. But I’ve got a great coaching staff that makes sure we’re getting our kids to simulate what they do. We have to make sure that we leave no stone unturned. What we harp on to the kids from a preparation standpoint is that you have to play disciplined football. You have to read your keys and react to what you’re seeing,” said Kalb. “Then on both sides of the ball, we wanted to be aggressive. Let’s not wait for them to set the tone and for us to respond. Let’s be the ones to set the tone and establish the line of scrimmage in our favor. We felt our defensive line got in the backfield, got penetration and pushed that line of scrimmage back.”

The Panthers did run 15 more plays than the Trojans — thanks largely to a 17-play, five first-down, six-minute second-quarter drive that saw Chesapeake move from its own 25 to as far as the Portsmouth 7-yard line.

But the Panthers only had 59 rushing yards on 34 carries, and were forced to throw 26 times — with a pair of Jacob Harris first-half interceptions.

And, both of those were costly indeed.

Especially the second, of which Dylan Sanderlin ended the aforementioned march with a pickoff of Harris at the Trojan 25.

At that point, the Trojans led 14-0 —as Chesapeake’s three plays from the Portsmouth 7 simply imploded upon themselves.

After an incomplete pass on 1st-and goal, a delay of game penalty made it 2nd-and-goal from the 12 —followed by another incompletion.

A pass to the 8 on 3rd-and-12 was negated by a chop-block penalty, thus resulting in 3rd and-goal from the 27.

Sanderlin then intercepted Harris to preserve the Trojans’ two-touchdown advantage.

The Trojans then scored twice in a four-minutes and 10-second span in the third frame, making it 28-0 with 62 seconds left in the quarter — with Roth’s final two extra points.

“We made the stop right there before the end of the half, and at halftime, we talked about finishing this game,” said Kalb.

After both teams went three-and-out to open the third, Portsmouth scored following a six-play, 47-yard drive in 2:48 —as senior fullback Levaughn Cobb plunged in from two yards out.

The Panthers had their own six-play possession and moved the ball 20 yards to midfield, but a turnover on downs gave the Trojans the ball back.

The next Portsmouth possession was five plays, 50 yards and a minute and 55 seconds in time elapsed, as Heiland had a nice, nimble and nifty 27-yard run to paydirt —juking and jiving and making a couple of Panther would-be tacklers miss.

It was easily Heiland’s most electrifying run —although his 61-yard scamper set up his first-quarter one-yard dive to make it 7-0 with Roth’s first extra point.

By halves, a proverbially-possessed and stiff-arming Heiland had 126 on 10 totes in the first —followed by 110 on 14 in the second.

Before his 61-yard sprint to the goal line, Heiland had a 20-yard pickup on the first play following the Panthers’ first interception.

Kalb said a healthy Heiland makes all the difference in the Trojans’ offense.

“When Chase is healthy, this what he can do,” said the coach. “He had a huge week one, got banged up a bit in practice leading up to week 2 (31-14 loss at West). He’s been nursing that all year, but we’ve seen a lot of growth out of him. He’s going out there and giving it everything he has. He looked like a man possessed out there tonight. I asked him before the game how heavy is a football. He said he didn’t know. I told him an inflated football is one pound. So when it gets too heavy for you and you can’t carry one pound, let me know and I will hand the ball to someone else. He really stepped up tonight. Just finding better ways to run the football.”

The only other Trojans to carry the rock were Williams (seven for 35 yards), Cobb (five for 30 yards), Nick Copley (two carries for 11 yards) and lineman Leo Poxes —whose lone touch was a 1-yard score on 4th-and-1 with 6:40 left in the second quarter.

That Trojan series spanned the final minute and 56 seconds of the opening canto, and the opening five minutes and 20 seconds of the second —and covered 50 yards in a dozen plays.

Portsmouth amassed 311 rushing yards, as the Panthers totaled 190.

“Once we realized what we were able to accomplish in the running game, we just wanted to keep establishing that running game,” said Kalb. “The big guys up front really set that up.”

What actually set the Trojans’ opening score up was the initial interception of Harris.

On the opening series, Chesapeake went three-and-out, but Williams was intercepted by Drew Plantz on the second Portsmouth play —as Plantz returned the pigskin from midfield to the Trojans’ 36.

The Panthers drove eight plays, and with the aid of a Trojan targeting penalty on 4th down at the 30, found themselves facing 4th-and-10 again at the 15.

This time, Trevin Brooks picked off Harris at the goal line —and returned the ball to the 13.

The Panthers finally averted the shutout only a minute and six tics into the final quarter —as a six-play, 49-yard, two-minute drive resulted in a 15-yard TD pass from Harris to Philip Thacker.

That too was aided by a 15-yard Portsmouth personal-foul penalty, as Harris had 14 completions for 131 yards.

Afterwards, Kalb reflected upon —sans the opening quarter at Gallia Academy in which the Blue Devils led 30-0 —the Trojans have played good football for four weeks straight.

They certainly showed Chesapeake who was in charge —in military uniforms and all.

Portsmouth’s Landon Malone (4) returns a kickoff as Chesapeake’s Mason Giles (11) attempts the tackle during Friday night’s Ohio Valley Conference football game at Portsmouth High School’s Trojan Coliseum.

Courtesy of Ryan Walker | The Ironton Tribune

“When we started the season, we knew we were young and inexperienced, but we saw the potential of this team. You don’t know when a team is going to start developing. We’re starting to come into our own and have that identity of who we’re going to be,” said Kalb. “Now we’re excited to see what this team can be. Three wins in four weeks.”

The Trojans travel to 6-1 (3-1 OVC) Fairland for Friday night’s key contest — at 7 p.m.

The Dragons’ lone loss is at Ironton in the OVC, as they sit second behind the Fighting Tigers in the Division V Region 19 computer ratings.

* * *

Chesapeake 0 0 0 0 — 6

Portsmouth 7 7 14 0— 28

P — Chase Heiland, 1-yard run (Zach Roth kick), 4:09, 1st (7-0 P)

P — Leo Poxes, 1-yard run (Zach Roth kick), 6:40, 2nd (14-0 P)

P — Levaughn Cobb, 2-yard run (Zach Roth kick), 5:12, 3rd (21-0 P)

P —Chase Heiland, 27-yard run (Zach Roth kick), 1:02, 3rd (28-0 P)

C—Phillip Thacker, 15-yard pass from Jacob Harris (kick blocked), 10:54, 4th (28-6 P)

Team Statistics


First downs 12 14

Scrimmage plays 60 45

Rushes-yards 34-59 42-311

Passing yards 131 15

Total yards 190 326

Cmp-Att-Int. 14-26-2 1-3-1

Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0

Penalties-yards 6-50 7-74

Punts-Ave.3-32 2-45.5


Individual Leaders

RUSHINGChesapeake: Philip Thacker 13-13, Camron Shockley 13-12, Jacob Harris 4-14, Jackson Spitler 2-27, Dannie Maynard 2-(-7); Portsmouth: Chase Heiland 24-236 2TD, Camron Williams 7-35, Levaughn Cobb 5-30 TD, Nick Copley 2-11, Leo Poxes 1-1 TD, Team 3-(-2)

PASSING Chesapeake: Jacob Harris 14-26-2-131 TD; Portsmouth: Camron Williams 1-3-1-15

RECEIVINGChesapeake: Mason Giles 4-44, Dannie Maynard 3-36, Camron Shockley 2-26, Drew Plantz 2-9, Philip Thacker 1-15 TD, Andrew Daniels 1-4, Ethan Kerns 1-(-3); Portsmouth: Chase Heiland 1-15

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

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