As of today, there are just 61 days until the kickoff of the 2019 high school football season when Valley visits Portsmouth, the opening game of the 2019 season. To celebrate that fact, we’re going to look at four very important things to consider ahead of this year’s football season.
1. New quarterbacks in SOC II
This is maybe the most important thing to consider ahead of this season. The quarterback position may very well be the most important position on the field, which is why the fact that Valley, Minford, Wheelersburg, and Westall having new starting quarterbacks this fall is such a strange occurrence. Some of these schools have relied heavy on a balanced offensive attack in recent years while others game plans have been heavy run oriented.
But with four first year starting quarterbacks entering the league this season, there are plenty of questions to be answered as to how these new young guns will fair at the varsity level as each school attempts to compete for an outright SOC II title.
2. Favorites in the SOC II race?
After graduating over 20 seniors a season ago, Wheelersburg will be looking for their sixth, I repeat, SIXTH straight SOC II title. Members of the winningest class in Wheelersburg football history are now gone, but the talent the Pirates have returning should more than fill their next man up approach.
However, let us not forget the Pirates coaching staff and the job they’ve done building the level of program that we’ve seen in recent years. Even though there may be some uncertainty at certain positions that the Pirates have had to fill due to graduation of members of the winningest class in school history, it would be remiss to not consider them the favorites to push for yet another SOC II title.
Other schools will see Wheelersburg as vulnerable, however. The Pirates greatest threat this season could very well be Waverly who returns their junior quarterback Haydn Shanks and senior running back Peyton Shoemaker. Both Shanks and Shoemaker put up excellent numbers for the Tigers a season ago in their postseason berth, and they’ll need to do the same if they hope to end the Pirates streak of five straight conference titles.
3. Now that Oak Hill has moved up to SOC II, who is the favorite to win the SOC I?
After much discussion and speculation as to if/when the move would take place, the Oak Hill Oaks are now officially a member of the SOC II after winning back to back SOC I titles.
This leaves the obvious question: Who are now the favorites to win the regular season SOC I crown?
The probable (and seemingly improbable) answer is likely the Green Bobcats after the Bobcats finished second in the SOC I a year ago with an 8-3 record and the school’s first postseason berth on the gridiron since 1990.
How Coach Ted Newsome and his staff have lifted the Bobcats program to the glory it had not seen in nearly three decades is incredible and with the returning talent of senior Alec Smith and junior quarterback Trevor Darnell, among others, likely makes the Bobcats the favorite to win a league title after falling just short a year ago.
A sleeper in the league may very well be the Northwest Mohawks. First year head coach Bill Crabtree has some young talent including a budding star in sophomore Brayden Campbell to work with in his first season on the sidelines, making the Mohawks a potential conference title threat for the first time since they first joined the SOC I four years ago.
4. Just how bright can the stars of Portsmouth’s Talyn Parker and Wheelersburg’s Makya Matthews shine?
Extremely bright. Extremely, extremely bright. This will be my second full season covering high school football in Scioto County, and I feel it’s not an understatement to say that these two upcoming seniors are worth the very price of admission and more when deciding which venue you’d like to visit on Friday nights this fall.
A year ago, Parker rushed for 2,470 yards and 29 rushing touchdowns in the Trojans ten regular season games while helping lead Portsmouth to their first postseason berth since 2007. Also a season ago during his junior season in which the Pirates reached the state semifinals, Matthews scored a team high combined eighteen touchdowns in all areas of the game: rushing, receiving, and on the defensive side of the ball.
Both talented seniors have had visits to major Division I programs, and it would be shocking if both talents do not have multiple offers from programs who would like to have them representing their university by season’s end. Both players have the ability to further put their schools on the map, and both will likely do so come this fall.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved