PDT Sports Writer
When Portsmouth and Valley battle on the gridiron Saturday night in Lucasville, it will be the first-ever regular season meeting between the two schools.
It will also mark the start of a season filled with questions for both squads. The Indians, coming off their best season in school history at 12-1, will have relatively new faces in a lot of key spots.
When asked about how comfortable he felt about his team, Valley coach Darren Crabtree chuckled.
“That’s a great question,” Crabtree said. “There are days we look really good and there are days we don’t look very good. My comfort zone is obviously not what it was the last couple of years but I’m confident in that when we decide that we’re going to focus on what the job at hand is, we do pretty well.”
On the opposite sideline will be a Trojans squad who will be looking to bounce back from consecutive 3-7 campaigns. Portsmouth coach Curt Clifford will also be interested in how his team looks as they switch from the spread attack to the two-back system.
“I’m confident that we’re going to give a great effort and that’s all I’m going to guarantee,” Clifford said. “We have one guy back on our football team in 22 positions that started 10 games last year. We have nobody else back that started no more than seven or eight games.”
Both teams will have new people under center as Will Howard replaces Blake Yates for the Indians and Brandon Wedebrook assumes the reigns from Mason Jordan. In the Valley backfield, Nate Arnett will carve a name for himself as the feature back after the graduation of Division V Co-Offensive Player of the Year Luke Keller. Portsmouth will have a platoon of backs led by returning tailback Johnie Charles.
Crabtree feels his defense has to be aware of where Alex Dickerson lines up on the field. Although his team has prepared for the type of offense they will go up against, Crabtree understands the simulation with scout teams doesn’t give a true sense of speed and pursuit angles.
Clifford said there is an overall sense of relief around the team that game week has finally arrived.
“That’s not meant in any disrespect to Valley because we know how good of a football team they are and how good of a program Darren Crabtree has out there,” Clifford said. “I think it’s probably the feeling for most high school kids right now.”
It’s the third-straight year the Trojans will start their season on a Saturday. Portsmouth split a home-and-home series with Wilmington the last two openers as the home team won each meeting.
Crabtree said someone will wake up Sunday morning with a better feeling. That feeling is of being 1-0 to start the year and over a county rival.
“The long run of this series could be good for both schools,” Crabtree said.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.