PDT Sports Writer
One of Scioto County’s most historic gridiron grudges revamps Friday night as Portsmouth (1-1) travels to Ed Miller Stadium to take on Wheelersburg (1-1).
Both teams are coming off their first wins of the season. The Trojans escaped West with a 21-18 victory while the Pirates took a 28-22 road decision over Coal Grove.
Portsmouth coach Curt Clifford knows this game has a lot of importance, not only in the standings but also for bragging rights in the county.
“It’s a great rivalry and I hope it’ll continue forever,” Clifford said. “I can’t imagine never playing this game.”
While the run defense was the Trojans’ Achilles’ heel in their Week 1 loss at Valley, the return of Bryan Sexton and Levi Hall made the difference as the pair combined for 26 tackles.
“You’ve got to have linebackers in the 4-4,” Clifford said.
As Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward put it, his Pirates are starting to grow into their roles with the personnel that takes the field.
“They’re gelling together as a unit,” Woodward said.
In the game against the Hornets, Woodward felt his troops played a sound defensive game except for a few breakdowns. He hopes offense, defense and special teams can all work in harmony.
One thing Woodward is pleased with at this point in the season has been the physical nature his team has exhibited on both sides of the ball, debunking the myth that spread offenses cannot be power teams. He mentioned that recently players such as offensive linemen Chase Chambliss and Sam Robinson have played with tenacity on the field.
“I think as a whole they’ve turned out well,” Woodward said.
Both Portsmouth quarterback Brandon Wedebrook and Wheelersburg signal caller Eddie Miller may have inexperience in the number of varsity snaps under their belts, but each are growing into their spots. Wedebrook enters his third start at quarterback since seventh grade 22-for-34 passing (64.7 percent) for 377 yards.
“I’m very impressed,” Woodward said. “I think he can manage an offense very well.”
Clifford gave high marks about Miller, who not only can hurt opponents with his arm and legs on the offensive side, but will go from his defensive back position and defend an opponent’s best player. Miller, who went 21-for-31 passing against Ironton and ran the ball 19 times for 96 yards against Coal Grove, reminds Clifford of former Pirate quarterback and current Wheelersburg assistant Tom Kaskey.
“I think he looks better than Kaskey,” Clifford said, jokingly.
The Pirates have won four-straight, including last season’s 28-19 win in the Coliseum. The last time Portsmouth defeated Wheelersburg came on Sept. 7, 2007, a last-minute 27-20 win at Spartan Stadium.
Both teams entered the game with similar 2-0 marks. Clifford was surprised about the history lesson.
“If that has to do with anything, I’ll take every advantage I can get,” Clifford said.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.