For the first time since 2007, the Portsmouth Trojans have made the playoffs and will be travelling to Middletown to face Middletown Madison this Saturday night in hopes of a playoff victory.
“When I took over the program, I anticipated the type of season that we’re having” said the Trojans first year head coach Bruce Kalb, “A good season where we finished with a winning record. An exceptional season where we competed for the league and a playoff spot where you get to go beyond the regular season. They set the stakes early on when they set the bar high that they wanted to compete for the league and for a playoff spot. We finished second in the OVC this year and they get a chance to play in week eleven. 7-3, best record here since 2009 and first playoff appearance since 2007. We couldn’t be happier, but as I pointed out in practice, they have to stay hungry. They can’t just be happy to be here. This program’s been here before, and that’s one of the things I emphasized. Let’s act like we’ve been here before, because we have, and let’s take care of business.”
Talyn Parker put together one of the best regular seasons in Scioto County history this season. Prior to the Trojans first game, the talented junior running back would tell anybody who would listen that his goal for himself was to get 2500 yards on the ground. Although he came up just barely short of that with 2470 yards on 254 carries and 29 rushing touchdowns, Parker opened a lot of eyes to those who have watched football in this area for a long time to what kind of talent he is by nearly completing his what some thought to be unattainable goals.
“I’m pretty darn confident in our offensive line up front to take care of business” said Kalb when asked about how his offensive attack might matchup to the defense of Madison who has only allowed 45 points thus far throughout their season, “Parker Johnson, Colin Boehm, Bryson Morrow, Tanner Queen has gotten better every week since Valley, Austin McKenzie and Ben Lester. Talyn Parker has put up some amazing numbers, but the offensive line deserves some credit for that as well. Coach Cadogen has done a fantastic job and I know he’s going to continue to do a good job this week getting those guys prepared. This is probably the best defensive line and inside linebackers we’ve seen all year, we know that from watching that on film. But we’ll get prepared and see where the chips will fall when we get up there.”
As mentioned above, the Middletown Madison Mohawks are a load of a team. Last season, they made the Division V state semifinals where they fell to the eventual Division V state champions Wheelersburg 15-10. The Mohawks are outscoring their opponents 450-45 on the ground, one of the best marks in the state of Ohio all season.
Upsetting the undefeated 10-0 Mohawks will be no easy task, but Kalb believes they have the talent and will have the game plan to give them a shot at doing so. “We’re not much different” said Kalb, “The second half of that Ironton game, we played a very physical football game. Even down 21-0, we didn’t go to the air, we ran the ball. I think we’re in for a war on Saturday night. Madison is a wing-t team, so we’ll have to make sure we go in defensively playing disciplined. Playing the position well and playing it with discipline, that’s what we always say. Take care of their job and relying on the guy next to them to do their job. I think they’ve thrown the ball twenty-something times all year, so certainly we’ll be prepared to stop the run. Coming off a state semifinals appearance last year and they bring a lot of those guys back. Certainly we don’t think it’s going to be an easy trip to Madison, but I don’t think they’ve seen anyone quite like Talyn Parker.”
Kalb says that going into their game with Madison Saturday night, his players need to channel the emotional high they felt after their come from behind victory against Ironton into positive energy for this Saturday night. “I think that same emotional high can help carry them over into this week. We’re down 21-0 and we went into the locker room at halftime and it wasn’t panic. It was hey, look where we went wrong. Had some fumbled snaps, had some drive killing penalties. We corrected some things and made some big plays that shifted the momentum to us. That’s what I told them today. Let’s take that performance from the second half against Ironton and move it forward. That’s who we are. We discovered how we play Trojan football down here, so now let’s take that into week eleven and see where it gets us.”
Kickoff between the Trojans and the Mohawks in Middletown is set for 7:00 p.m. Saturday night.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT