The defending Division V state champion Wheelersburg Pirates won their season opener against the Ironton Tigers, 28-6.
“We started hitting on all cylinders” said Pirates head coach Rob Woodward following his team’s victory, “And then we started running into some adverse situations. We’re still developing leaders, still developing some leadership and our guys have to be able to fight through some adversity. We had some younger guys who had to step up due to some late injuries, but our guys hung tough. We’ll make some corrections and come back and look better next week.”
From the outset, the game was all Pirates. After receiving the ball on a fair catch in the end zone, Ironton quarterback Gage Salyers took a 10 yard sack before throwing a 10 yard pick six to Trey Carter to give Wheelersburg the early 7-0 lead within the first minute of the game.
On Wheelersburg’s first offensive possession, senior quarterback and first team all-state quarterback from a year ago, Trent Salyers, delivered a 52 yard bomb to Trey Carter for another Pirates touchdown. This would be Carter’s second touchdown of the game only halfway through the first quarter.
After this scoring outburst, the Ironton defense was able to mildly subdue the high powered Wheelersburg offense that averaged nearly forty points per game from a year ago.
It would not be until the first two minutes of the second quarter that Ironton would allow Wheelersburg to score their next touchdown on a Trent Salyers 10 yard touchdown pass to Evan Horsley on a fourth down conversion attempt that put the Pirates ahead 21-0 nearly halfway through the first half.
In a miraculous play, Ironton was able to score their only touchdown of the game on a thirty seven yard hail mary pass as time expired in the first half as Gage Salyers found a slippery Brycen Thomas on a jump ball. After the missed extra point, Ironton ended the half trailing 21-6.
The lone score of the second half came in the final seconds of the third quarter as Trent Salyers found Dustin Darnell in the corner of the end zone on a 3 yard touchdown pass. This touchdown was Salyers third of the game and sealed the deal as Wheelersburg was victorious by a final score of 28-6.
Wheelersburg only allowed the Ironton Tigers, coached by first year coach and former West Senator standout Trevon Pendleton, to a total of 232 yards on offense. Woodward was very impressed with the intensity his defense showed in their season opener. “I’ve been talking about how explosive our guys are going to be” said Woodward, “Hats off to Ironton, Trevon’s (Pendleton) got them fighting for four quarters and they did just that. Our guys are continuing to work themselves and are going to continue to do so.”
Wheelersburg will travel to Columbus next week where they will face Bishop-Hartley, a Division III opponent. Wheelersburg will look for their thirty-seventh straight regular season win, a streak dating back to 2014. “We’ve got some improving to do” said Woodward, “We’ve definitely got some areas to clean up, things to get better at. When you play a quality opponent like Bishop Hartley you’re going to have to be hitting on all cylinders, so we’re going to clean some things up and get ready to go.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT