The Portsmouth Trojans prepare to host the Chesapeake Panthers Friday night for an OVC Conference game. The Trojans (3-4, 2-2) sport an impressive passing game that will try to outscore Chesapeake (6-1, 2-1) and their dominate running game.
Thus far, Portsmouth has felt the pressure from a tough schedule, as two of their losses have come from OVC opponents at the top of the conference (Rock Hill, Ironton) and the others from two undefeated SOC teams: Valley and Wheelersburg. Coach Aaron Duncan hasn’t let the losses get him down, though, and plans to come in prepared against Chesapeake.
“Wheelersburg and Valley are the two best programs around here and we had them in weeks one and three,” Duncan said. “Ironton is unbeaten in the conference and has played a tough schedule thus far too, and Rock hill was a tough loss for us. In that game we didn’t do much to help ourselves. But in all four of our losses we have went down to really good teams. Every game we should have won we went out there and won.”
Chesapeake comes into the game giving up just over eight points a game on defense. However, Coach Duncan thinks he can overcome this as long as they rely on their strength.
“You look at their roster, and their biggest player is 215 pounds on that side of the ball,” Duncan pointed out. “They are small and quick. Against that, we’ve got to maintain our blocks. Our best approach is to run right at them and use our size and strength. We have to establish the running game to be able to get the play action going, and some other things we like to do. Whoever wins up front will win this game.”
He plans to use senior Austin Hollins in a variety of ways to get the offense going. Last week, both quarterback Cole Lowry and Hollins had good games against South Point.
“Hollins is a kid we like to move around,” Duncan said. “He is a running back, but can line up as a receiver. We like to move him around and get the ball in his hands. But we have to establish the run, if we get into a situation against Chesapeake where we can’t run and we are based solely on the pass we are going to be in trouble.”
Last week against Fairland, Chesapeake racked up a huge running total of 287 yards. Coach Duncan has a plan, but his kids have to buy into practice this week in order for it work.
“They have a high powered offense. First, we have to take care of ourselves and work on our fundamentals,” said Duncan. “They want to run the ball. They do not want to throw it unless they have to. We must guard against the misdirection and counter plays. All week we have been harping, ‘stay at home, look for the counter and stay disciplined.’ If that doesn’t happen, if our guys go out there and make every play and over extend, we are going to have a long night. It is important for them to play their position and trust your team to make the right reads.”
Portsmouth is currently sitting about midway through the pack of the OVC conference. Coach Duncan is hopeful he can string together a few more wins and finish the year strong. But he warns an old rival may be ready to seat itself back on top this year.
“Our goal is to win those games we have left. That being said, Ironton is going to finish around the front,” Duncan guessed. “They can run, they are huge, they have a good stable of running backs. They’ve just been battling injuries and had a tough schedule. Behind them you have Chesapeake and Rock hill. Us and Coal Grove are about in the same boat. So there is a lot of competition in the OVC right now.”
The OVC has certainly been an interesting conference to watch this year. Currently, the Portsmouth Trojans sit at 5th in the conference, but that could change with a big upset win against Chesapeake. So far the Trojans have had wins against the bottom of the conference, and hope to establish themselves against a stronger OVC opponent.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday night at Portsmouth High School.