There will be a new Division V state champion in 2018 as the Wheelersburg Pirates fell to the Johnstown-Monroe Johnnies in the Division V state semifinals 32-14 at Jackson High School’s Alumni Stadium Saturday night.
“We just didn’t have an answer for them in terms of trying to stop their run game,” said Wheelersburg head coach Rob Woodward following the Pirates loss Saturday night, “Hats off to them, they did an outstanding job. They did a good job of running inside/outside, kept us on our heels, falling forward. They were very patient in how they were able to move the ball, that’s a great football team.”
The Pirates chances looked incredibly promising to start the game. On their first drive, senior quarterback Trent Salyers found the speedy junior Makya Matthews in the flat where Matthews then took the pass all the way to the end zone for a 74 yard touchdown reception to give Wheelersburg the early 7-0 lead with 11:01 left in the first quarter.
However, the good moments stopped there for the explosive Pirates offense.
Johnstown-Monroe proceeded to control the time of possession for the rest of the game in dominating fashion. Full back Luke Myers’ one yard touchdown rush, Alex Jenney’s 23 yard field goal, and running back Bryce Barasch’s five yard touchdown rush added 16 points to the Johnstown-Monroe total giving them the halftime lead of 16-7. At the break, the Johnnies led the time of possession 18:07 to 5:53 over the Pirates.
“We talked about some different things we could do defensively,” said Woodward, “We knew we had to take some gambles to try and chance the game there. We’re always pushing the envelope, and that falls our way sometimes. That didn’t happen on that opening kickoff, I thought we could get a stop. They had that fourth down and we weren’t able to stop them. Again, they were able to execute.”
The third quarter featured much of the same from the Pirates offense, and the exact same time melting drives from the Johnstown-Monroe offense. Second half rushing touchdowns by Barasch and Myers, and another field goal from Jenney made the Johnnies lead 32-7 late in the fourth quarter.
Fighting till the last minute, Salyers found senior wide receiver Tanner Holden for a five yard touchdown pass to cut the Pirates deficit to 32-14 in what would ultimately be the final score of Saturday night’s Division V state semifinal contest.
As a senior class, this group of Pirates who will graduate in the spring have put together an impressive 52-4 record in 56 career games, with incredible statistical feats to go along with their win/loss percentage. It is, undoubtedly, one of the winningest classes in Southern Ohio football history, and one Wheelersburg fans should be nothing but proud of.
“I think this was their 56th game that they’ve played in since they’ve been here if you count their freshman year and on,” said Woodward, “We started a campaign a few years ago, ‘Play for 60’. Playing for sixty games and embracing that. Those guys have done that. They put the work in, and done the job that’s needed. It’s been an outstanding performance. Definitely would have liked to finish that with another win, another two wins even. It didn’t happen tonight, but they have accumulated and amassed some unbelievable numbers from an offensive and defensive perspective, and also from a number of wins.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT