PDT Sports Writer
If there was a theme for both West and Portsmouth in their season-opening losses last week, each played consistent for one half but couldn’t find the consistency in the other.
For the Senators, coach Merill Triplett felt that the biggest culprit in his team’s 41-29 home last week was first half jitters. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Trojans coach Jason Sparks believed his team had a strong start but the power of Valley proved to be too much in a 28-19 loss to the Indians.
When the two teams clash Friday night at the Trojan Coliseum, four quarters of consistency will be the key ingredient to victory.
With the energy that comes with the first game of the season, Triplett said his team used a substantial amount of energy in the first couple of minutes. West went into the locker room trailing 28-7 but was able to put a 22-13 spurt together in the second half after settling down and making key adjustments.
“We had some young kids learn as the game went on, stepped up and did a nice job,” Triplett said. “We had some seniors come around. They got down bad early and then they came screaming back, put (themselves) in a position to have a chance to win the ballgame, which I thought showed a lot of character.”
Austin Bricker led the West rushing attack with a 114-yard performance on 19 carries. Steven Irwin was 8-of-15 passing for 134 yards and a touchdown and also recorded a rushing touchdown on one of his nine carries.
Triplett felt the key in the second half was placing faster guys on the defensive side of the ball to put pressure on Dragons quarterback Chance Short, who finished 25-for-31 throwing for 311 yards and five touchdowns. The players Triplett felt stood out were John Thompson at nose guard and John Berry after he was moved to defensive end.
Portsmouth used its brand new up-tempo style of offense to take a 13-7 lead into the second quarter and 19-14 into the third against the Indians. However, 21 points scored by Valley off four Trojan turnovers was too much for Sparks to overlook.
“I think the biggest thing was execution from all aspects,” Sparks said. “…When you look at those things after you watch film, if all of those bounces go our way, it’s a totally different ballgame…It was almost a tale of two halves.”
Darion Robinson accounted for 62 of Portsmouth’s 141 yards on the ground, including a 47-yard run to give the Trojans their first points of the season. Brandon Wedebrook was 10-of-22 passing for 85 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Last season’s 21-18 thriller in West Portsmouth was the lone victory for Portsmouth. Triplett feels this year’s Trojan is much improved with a similar cast that has gained experience and are extremely fast, maybe one of the fastest his squad will see all year.
“We all know you don’t coach speed, you just appreciate it when you have it,” Triplett said. “Kids just fly, they sure got it. They’re a step away from scoring a touchdown every time when two or three of their kids touch the football.”
In order to contain speed, Triplett believes great pursuits will be a factor.
“Once they break the line of scrimmage, it’s a foot race and you’re going to lose a foot race with Portsmouth,” Triplett said. “They have more speed than anyone around here.”
The Trojans planned to start the game in the fast-paced, no-huddle offense then reel it back as the game progressed. Not only was stamina a factor in the decision, consistency on offense proved to be another. He was pleased with his team’s effort throughout the game.
Sparks believes the biggest challenge will be to see if his team can bend but not break when the Senators mount long drives with their strong running attack.
“(They’re) downhill runners, very aggressive up front, strong and put a lot of bodies at the point of attack,” Sparks said. “They make no bones about it and they’re kind of similar to Valley in that scheme. They’ve got their playmakers, they’re going to get those guys the ball.
“They don’t do a lot, but what they do, they’re good at.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.