Coming off their first National Football Events AA Championship, the Portsmouth Warriors are riding a wave of momentum as an organization.
That momentum reached its pinnacle this past week with the announcement that the Warriors and the Portsmouth Spartans — Scioto County’s other semi-pro football organization — formed an official partnership.
Warriors owner Ricky Witt admitted the unlikely alliance or merger stunned fans of both teams.
“It was one of those things that shocked everybody because we were one of the most bitter rivals in the league,” Witt said. “When we announced we were going to make the merge, everyone was shocked. But Portsmouth really never should of had two teams in the first place. It’s a small town and it kind of took away from the town. It took away from both fan bases in the town.”
After winning the national championship, Witt admitted his team might have had to spend a year rebuilding after losing several players to professional football, including arena football and oversees ventures. Other members of the team walked away while feeling on top of the mountain.
“A lot of guys decided this was how they wanted to end their career and you can’t really blame them,” Witt said.
After suffering a major turnover to the roster, the Warriors began preparations for the 2016 season on the same practice fields as the Spartans. According to Witt, practicing on nearby fields gave both teams the advantage of scouting each other.
“It’s exciting for everybody,” Witt said. “Once we saw who were going on to bigger and better things, we knew we were going to have some holes to fill. We saw what the Spartans were going to have, and they were going to have a pretty good year with or without us.
“They had one big puzzle piece and we had the other. What they had in talent, we were lacking. What we had in talent, they were lacking. Once we put it together, this team is probably as good if not better than last year’s team.”
Partnering with Witt will be JoJo Parker and Dusty Mogan. According to Witt, his 2016 squad was going to be mainly comprised of talent outside of Scioto County. However, with Parker’s connections, the Warriors are going to have a mix of local and out-of-area talent.
“When you get these guys coming from that far of a distance, it does hurt your fan base,” Witt said. “Their parents and families aren’t coming to the games because it’s just to far of a distance.
“Not only did we mix a lot of out-of-town talent, we also mixed a lot of local talent. It’ll help the fan base and just mixing the talent on both sides of the ball, it’s honestly phenomenal.”
As far as the Portsmouth Warrior brand is concerned, nothing will change before the 2016 season begins. After the conclusion of the season, Witt, Parker and Mogan will discuss the topic and decide if any changes are going to be forthcoming.
Witt’s desire is for the name to remain the same after the national attention the Warriors have received. However, he’s open to making changes if that’s what the trio decides is best for the organization.
“We would honestly like to keep the name Portsmouth Warriors because we have made that name known nationally,” Witt said. “The main thing with them coming in, I wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable.
“Everyone might vote to change the name and give the team a new look, then that’s what we’re going to do.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.