WAVERLY – The Wheelersburg Pirates are Regional Champions after they soundly defeated the Chillicothe Zane Trace Pioneers 31-0 Friday night at Waverly High School. The Pirates advance to the OHSAA State Semifinals as a result of the win, where they have advanced to the final four in Division V, and will play on Friday November 27th at a location yet to be determined by the OHSAA.
“What a game,” Wheelersburg Coach Rob Woodward said. “Defensive shut out, offense moved the ball, scored with two minutes to go in the first half. Offensive line played outstanding. The conditioning of our players in the game boded us well. The guys sometimes don’t like the things coach puts them through but I keep telling them, ‘there’s a reason for it, there’s a reason for it,’ the conditioning they showed tonight, out here on the field was outstanding.”
Conditioning was key for Wheelersburg, which really showed in the second half, as the Pirates kept pounding the ball down the field on the Pioneers. The Pioneers defensive line began to show heavy huffing and puffing, about midway through the third quarter, and just couldn’t stop the Pirates offense.
Once again, the final Wheelersburg drive of the first half came up big for the Pirates.
“It was great, we were able to get into the end zone with only two minutes on the clock, which again, grabbed that momentum, which is so important to a team,” Woodward said. “We were able to grab it and take it with us and score.”
It would only take 0:47 for Wheelersburg to score starting out the second half.
“I think our kids came in here tonight to prove that we can compete in Region 17 Division V,” Woodward said. “We are a caliber of team that can be a Regional Champ.”
The Pirates finished last season as the Regional Runner-ups, so this win rectified the disappointing loss from last season.
Wheelersburg quarterback Kyle Davis shined again on the field against the Pioneers. He ran in the first two scores for the Pirates, and then hit a massive shot down field, when he connected with Tanner Holden for a 53-yard score.
“It’s repeated every single week, ‘what an outstanding job,’” Woodward said. “District player of the year for a reason, because of the job he can do with his feet, throwing the ball, dispersing it to the other players, making the calls, making the checks, making the recognition that he can. He’s a great player.”
The ‘Burg dominated, yet again, on the line of scrimmage, especially the Pirates offensive line.
“Great, great, Colin Ahad, Brady Newsome, Sam Hall, Eli Whitley, Lyden Collins, Jake Darnell, and Clint Hatfield, at the two tight ends, because they up in there a good bit with us,” Woodward said. “Man, they were creating holes, coming off the ball, reestablishing the line of scrimmage, making adjustments on the field. They’re just a great group of leaders.”
Woodward and the Pirates are going to celebrate their big win over Zane Trace, and then get right back to work, as they compete in the State Semifinal round next Friday.
“We’re going to enjoy this tonight, and we’ll get back after it first thing tomorrow,” Woodward said.
The Wheelersburg Pirate defense did not hesitate to show their talents. On the game’s first drive, the Pirate defense gave up several gains, but then took advantage of a Pioneers false start. Facing first and 15 on the Pirates 43 yard line, Jeremy Cooper forced a fumble, which gave the Pirates possession of the ball on their own 49 yard line.
The Pirates called four straight runs to start their drive moving the ball from their own 49 yard line to the Zane Trace 23 yard line. After a pass from Davis to Jake Darnell for 6-yards, Wheelersburg junior Keaton Newsome broke out with a 16-yard run. Lined up on the one yard line, Davis ran a keeper into the end zone, giving the Pirates a 7-0 lead after a successful point after attempt.
Another drive for the Pioneers ended after the Pirate defense took advantage of a quarterback sack and a bad snap. Facing a fourth and 19 on the Wheelersburg 35 yard line, Zane Trace attempted a 51-yard field goal, which had the distance, but was wide left of the uprights.
Wheelersburg threatened to score on the Pioneers again, however, after a double reverse, Davis threw deep from the Zane Trace 37 yard line, but was intercepted in the end zone.
Woodward’s Pirates had another opportunity to add some points on the scoreboard. With only 2:32 left in the second quarter, Wheelersburg completed a 7 play drive worth 66-yards. Davis would end up scoring on a 9-yard run to give the Pirates a two touchdown lead with only 0:57 seconds left in the half.
Time would run out on the Pioneers in the first half, as they trailed the Pirates 14-0.
In less than a minute, the ‘Burg struck again after a two play, 64-yard drive that was finalized by a 53-yard pass from Davis to Holden. Up by 21 points, the Pirates were controlling all aspects of the game.
After forcing another Zane Trace punt, Wheelersburg took advantage of a tiring Pioneer defensive line. On fourth down, needing nine yards, Woodward selected to send kicker Daylor Lewis onto the field to attempt a 30-yard field goal. Lewis sent the ball perfectly in-between the uprights, to give the Pirates a 24-0 lead with only 4:57 remaining in the third quarter.
Wheelersburg’s defense sent another message to the Pioneers after Austin Harris was intercepted by Wyatt Henderson, after the ball was deflected twice. Henderson returned the ball to the Zane Trace 17 yard line before being tackled.
The Pirates would get one more score on the night on their next drive. On the fourth play of the drive, Wheelersburg running back, Jordan Howard scored on a 3-yard run, giving the Pirates a 31-0 lead after another successful point after attempt by Lewis.
Leading by 31 points, the public address announcer notified the crowd the game would now be played under a running clock. After the announcement, the Wheelersburg showed their numbers as they cheered the pending Regional Championship.
After each team turned the ball over in the fourth quarter, and neither team scored, the clock ran out, for the final time, on the Pioneers.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931 or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.
1 2 3 4 Final
Wheelersburg 7 7 17 0 31
Zane Trace 0 0 0 0 0
Burg – K. Davis 1-yd run (PAT good) (6:56)
Burg – K. Davis 9-yd run (PAT good) (0:57)
Burg – K. Davis 53-yd pass to T. Holden (PAT good) (11:13)
Burg – D. Lewis 30-yd field goal (4:57)
Burg – J. Howard 3-yd run (PAT good) (2:15)