Throughout the duration of the regular season, the Wheelersburg Pirates’ and the West Senators’ football programs have shown a consistent effort and grit that has been unmatched by many of their Southeast District brethren.
So it’s only fitting that at the conclusion of the regular season, the pair find themselves in the final version of the Ohio AP Division V Football Poll that was released late Monday evening, as Wheelersburg obtained 172 points and four first-place votes to obtain a third-place finish in the final poll of the season, while West finished the season with 66 points and a No. 8 ranking in the final version of the poll.
For the Pirates, Wheelersburg continued to show out again as Rob Woodward’s group, behind 11 catches, 109 yards, and a touchdown from Tanner Holden along with an exceptional run defense that gave up just 40 yards on 35 carries, rolled to its 35th consecutive regular-season victory — a school record — with a 41-7 victory over West. Woodward also collected his 100th victory in just his 10th season at the helm of the Wheelersburg football program. Holden, who has caught 59 passes for 1,174 yards and 17 touchdowns, also set school records in the latter pair of categories with his performance on Friday evening.
As far as the regular season is concerned, Trent Salyers, who has thrown for 28 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions on the year, has obtained 2,635 yards passing by completing 141 of his 212 passes on the year. Salyers, who has also ran for 361 yards and 10 touchdowns on 65 carries en route to obtaining 2,996 yards of total offense, is just one yard away from tying the all-time single-season passing mark set by Eddie Miller III (2,636 yards, 2013).
In addition to Salyers’ rushing output, Dominic Reyes (69 carries, 384 yards, seven TD), and Ashton Clevenger (41 carries, 260 yards, two touchdowns) have helped to lead a Wheelersburg unit that has run for 1,740 yards on 305 carries as a team. Holden’s aforementioned numbers, along with Cole Lowery, who has obtained 38 receptions for 657 yards and three touchdowns in 2017, led the receiving core.
Defensively, Xander Carmichael leads the Pirates with 61 tackles and an interception, while Evan Dahm (52 tackles, interception) and Nic Parsley (48 tackles, three sacks) follow close behind. Alex George (40 tackles, forced fumble), Avery Donini (39 tackles, interception), Makya Matthews (36 tackles, three interceptions), and Bryson Keeney (36 tackles, interception) head up a group that allowed just 81 total points and 624 rushing yards on 294 carries for a 2.1 yard-per-carry average during the regular season.
As for West, the Senators, despite the 41-7 loss to the Pirates on Friday evening at Ed Miller Stadium, still showed plenty of flashes throughout the contest as Dylan Bradford completed 12 of his 24 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown while Garrett Hurd ran for 59 yards during the affair. Cody Staggs added 95 yards on three catches, including West’s lone score on the first offensive play of the game, while Caleb Journey added 45 yards on four catches en route to showing off his pass catching abilities. Staggs also led the team with 11 tackles to round out an outstanding effort from the senior.
For the regular season, Bradford collected 1,133 yards on 72-of-128 passing for the contest while also accumulating 10 total touchdowns to just five interceptions through the air. Bradford also added 292 yards and eight touchdowns on 84 carries en route to collecting 18 total touchdowns for the regular season.
From a rushing standpoint, Hurd obtained 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns on 196 carries for a 6.0 yard-per-carry average, while Josh Berry obtained 214 rushing yards on 42 carries for a 5.1 yard-per-carry in just eight games. Staggs leads the team in receiving with 276 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 14 catches.
Defensively, Jakeb Guilkey and Brandon Weaver, who led the defense with their athleticism and grit from the line, collected 86 and 71 total tackles, respectively. Guilkey obtained 13 tackles for loss, five sacks, two pass deflections, and a forced fumble, while Weaver added 16 tackles for loss, five sacks of his own, a pass deflection, a fumble recovery, and a blocked punt that he recovered for a touchdown during the regular season.
Hunter Reed added 35 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and three sacks as a dependable interior lineman, Berry obtained 63 tackles, four sacks, three interceptions, and a fumble recovery in just eight games, and Drew Cassidy collected 54 tackles, an interception, and four pass breakups during the regular season for the Senators to round out the defense.
Cassidy, who has been a force with his leg all season long, has made seven of his nine field goal attempts with a long of 44 yards and has made 39 extra point attempts in 40 tries. The senior has also been huge from a punting standpoint as well, obtaining a 39 yard punt average on 20 punts en route to downing five of them inside the 20, to round out an excellent West effort throughout the regular season.
With the regular season complete, ‘Burg and West — who finished as the No. 1 and No. 2 overall seeds, respectively — will face Columbus Bishop Ready and Martins Ferry, respectively, in home bouts. Both contests will be held on Friday evening.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT