November 14, 2013
PDT Sports Editor
With the recent football season in the books for the Portsmouth Trojans, the 2013 All-SEOAL list was released, which featured four Trojan players.
Quarterback Sky Oliver and running back Johnnie Charles made the awards list while receiver Brandon Wedebrook and center Alex Grashel were honorable mentions.
Oliver began the season at receiver before being thrust into the quarterback role after a lower-back injury sidelined Wedebrook for two contests. Oliver suited up the final six games as Portsmouth’s signal caller.
Oliver finished the season with 1,393 yards through the air with 15 touchdowns. Oliver rushed for 348 yards and five touchdowns while also catching eight passes for 209 yards and two scores.
“He’s just a special athlete,” Portsmouth coach Jason Sparks said. “He’ll be just as good for us next year. I look forward to having him back.”
According to Sparks, Oliver accounted for approximately 50 percent of the Trojan offense.
“He made a lot of plays,” Sparks said. “When protection broke down, he made a lot of plays with his feet.”
Charles began the season splitting carries with Darion Robinson who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Wheelersburg. Charles became the Trojan rushing attack after Robinson’s injury.
“Charles became 100 percent the focal point of the running attack,” Sparks said.
Sparks estimated that most of Charles’ yards came after initial contact.
“I’d say he had 700 yards after contact,” Sparks said jokingly. “Everyone knew what was coming and he still made things happen. That’s a testament to him and his work ethic.”
The 5-foot-9-inch, 166 pound senior finished the 2013 campaign with 804 yards on the ground and five touchdowns. Charles caught five passes out of the backfield for 53 yards and one score. On special teams, Charles had a combined 412 yards on punt and kickoff returns while crossing the goal line twice.
“He’s a hard worker and a really good worker,” Sparks said.
Wedebrook began his senior season as the incumbent starter at quarterback for the Trojans. However, the aforementioned back injury derailed the original plans for his final campaign.
Wedebrook missed games against Ironton and Logan before returning to the gridiron. Upon his return, Wedebrook was moved out wide and asked to play receiver, a role that saw him flourish during the last few games of his high school career.
“Being at quarterback all summer and the first half of the year, he knew exactly what to do at receiver,” Sparks said. “He knew where to be and he knew Sky. Brandon knew where Sky would be looking.”
Wedebrook caught 15 passes for 307 yards and five touchdowns, all coming in the final four contests. Sparks credits the switch to receiver to Wedebrook’s strong presence on the defensive side of the ball. Wedebrook recorded 41 tackles (25 solo), one interception and 12 pass breakups.
“He’s by far our best DB (defensive back),” Sparks said. “When he was our starting quarterback, we couldn’t put him out there for every play on defense. He didn’t lose any playing time, accountability or leadership, he just changed positions. He kind of fell into it and it worked out great.”
Grashel was the starting center for the Trojans and often made protection calls for the offensive line.
“He’s the guy who’s making checks and calls up front for the line,” Sparks said. “He’s just a tough, nasty kid. He sets the tone for the whole offensive line with his attitude and the way he goes about his position. He leads by example.”
The 6-foot-2-inch, 235 pound senior had 19 solo pancakes while also recording 12.5 solo tackles and 3.5 sacks. Sparks admitted Grashel’s value was to the offensive line, and said that is why Grashel saw fewer snaps on the defensive side of the ball then originally anticipated.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.