Power v. Speed: Falcons-Trojans prep for Saturday night

September 21, 2013

Cody Leist

PDT Sports Writer

The last of a four-game homestand for Portsmouth to start the season concludes Saturday night when the Trojans entertain Minford.

Trojans coach Jason Sparks can’t believe time has gone by that quickly.

“It just seems like yesterday, we were in the weight room for the summer and it feels like yesterday, we were scrimmaging Wellston,” Sparks said.

With all the trips down memory lane aside, he knows that his Portsmouth ball club will have its hands full when the undefeated Falcons come into town. Physical play will be emphasized in the game.

“They’re big and physical, that’s what jumps out right at you,” Sparks said. “They do a good job of getting their guards out, doing a lot of pulling.”

What sticks out in Sparks’ mind is the play by Minford’s interior offensive linemen, who are able to move beyond the first two levels of the defense in a hurry.

The Falcons will enter the contest looking to reach the 4-0 mark for the fifth time in the last eight seasons. While a potential battle for 5-0 next week at Oak Hill could be looming, Minford coach Brent Daniels wants to make sure his team is focusing on this week’s matchup.

“Our kids, we train them in (the thought that) the game we play during the week is the most important game,” Daniels said. “It’s Portsmouth this week. That’s all we’re worried about right now, getting ourselves better and getting prepared for the Portsmouth game Saturday.”

The Falcons are coming off a 58-0 home win over Piketon, a week after blanking Columbus Grandview Heights 34-0. Daniels credits the accomplishments to unselfish team play overall.

“It’s about the team concept, their main concern is winning,” Daniels said. “If somebody makes a mistake, I’ve seen other kids getting the other guy pumped back up. They’re a good, cohesive unit and they play well together.”

If Minford’s defense is to pitch its third shutout in as many weeks, containing the Trojans’ speed will be the first task.

“The skill is still there, they’ve got speed,” Daniels said about this week’s opponent. “They’re running some different sets from normal, just a different style of offense basically.”

Daniels admitted he did not use the film from last year’s 41-14 home win for any scouting purposes. However, he used two weeks of Portsmouth game tape and scouting reports to see what this year’s Trojan squad does well.

“They’re a good football team, there’s no doubt about it,” Daniels said. “A good coaching staff and they’re getting their kids playing hard. It’s going to be a big test for us.”

Points scored have not been an issue for Portsmouth, which has racked up 68 points in three contests, rather points allowed (91) are the Trojans’ major issue. Through three games last season, Portsmouth was outscored 97-58 and entered the Minford game with a similar 1-2 mark.

After last week’s 42-14 defeat to Wheelersburg, Sparks contributed defensive assignments, something that wasn’t an issue in the previous two weeks, as the major culprit.

“We did some things (that were) a little unfundemental Friday night,” Sparks said.

Offensively, blitz recognition was also emphasized in practice.

The Trojans will be without Nate Basham (concussion) and Darion Robinson (lower-body injury) for at least this week after they both left last Friday’s loss. Sparks said MRI results were not ready in time to determine Robinson’s long-term outlook.

Saturday night will also mark the return of quarterback Cody Stapleton to the Trojan Coliseum, this time as a member of the opposition. Not only was he in charge of last year’s win on the football field, he also helped the basketball team claim a 63-51 road victory over Portsmouth.

Sparks said there has not been any mentions by any of his players of the former Trojan this week during practice.

“Up until this week, I never even knew the kid was here,” Sparks said.

With the contest taking place a day later than everyone else in the region, both coaches understand there are positives as well as negatives to the selection of the day. Sparks used the extra day for healing and film study while Daniels used the time to get some extra reps under full-paded conditions.

Both coaching said they will look to scout future opponents Friday night. Portsmouth will hit the road after this week to play against archrival Ironton while the Falcons pay a visit to the previously mentioned Oaks.

For a complete game recap Saturday night, visit www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com.

Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or cleist@civitasmedia.com. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.