PDT Sports Writer
It took Wheelersburg (3-1) two games this season earn its first victory at the newly-renovated Ed Miller Stadium.
The Pirates want to make that mark 2-1 after Friday when they will welcome Jackson (2-2) in a homecoming of sorts for fourth-year Ironmen head coach Andy Hall, who is a Wheelersburg graduate and will be coaching against his alma mater for the first time as the Jackson boss.
Although the two teams have been familiar with each other in scrimmages, the Pirates have a slim 9-6 series lead. Wheelersburg won 26-13 in 1989.
The Pirates come in to the contest winners of three-straight after last week’s 42-7 conquest at Fairland. The Ironmen’s 21-14 home setback against Athens last week was the team’s second-straight after their 21-game regular season winning streak was snapped Week 3 by the Granville Blue Aces.
Last Friday’s win by the Bulldogs was the first in the series since 2002 and first in Jackson since 1989. The Ironmen, who are looking to make it to three-straight postseason appearances, are trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak since Week 9 of the 2009 season through Week 1 of the 2010 campaign.
Despite his opponent’s .500 record, Wheelersburg coach Rob Woodward feels his team cannot take Jackson lightly.
“They’ve got some young players on offense but they do a great job,” Woodward said. “The quarterback (Derek Rafferty), he does a great job of running the football and the offense.
“While they don’t tend to throw it as much, they have no reason to with a pretty good fullback in (Morgan) Landrum. He runs hard as well as (Gabe Griffiths), (Alec Osborne), (Mitchell McCorkle), they’ve got a number of players that can carry the football and do very well.”
It wasn’t revealed until late this week that Landrum is doubtful for the game with an upper-body injury. He missed last week’s contest with strep throat.
Woodward agreed this game is important on a variety of levels. This will be the final tune-up for both squads before the start of their respective league schedules. The Pirates open SOC II play with a home game against Northwest while the Ironmen look to defend their back-to-back SEOAL crowns when Warren comes into town.
This should also be important or both schools in computer points. According to the latest projections from JoeEitel.com, Jackson is 16th in Division III, Region 12 and Wheelersburg is eighth in Division V, Region 19.
“We want to get as much experience as we can to really test our football team and see where we’re at,” Woodward said. “We always talk about our number one goal is to deserve to win the SOC. We’ve got to get ourselves prepared the best we can and that’s to have an opportunity to do that as well as working to set up an opportunity to set up a shot for the playoffs.”
In his weekly media interview with the Jackson County Times-Journal, Hall gave a lot of credit to Pirates quarterback Eddie Miller. The signal caller is a threat both with his arm and his legs.
“Besides Eddie, there’s not one kid you have to key on,” Hall said. “They all have good speed and are all good athletes.
“They can all run and catch. The key is really to get Eddie flustered, get him off his launch points and make him indecisive.”
For coach Hall and his father Larry, the game will bring back memories. The elder Hall’s house borders the stadium.
“A lot of the guys that my dad coached have kids playing, a lot of the kids I went to school with have got kids playing, I know a lot of these families,” Hall said. “A lot of the guys that are coaching there now either played with me or played for dad. We’re looking forward to going back down there and playing there.”
Jackson County Times-Journal Sports Editor Paul Boggs contributed to the report.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or email@example.com.