When the Portsmouth Trojans met the Rock Hill Redmen last season, the weather was horrible and for the Portsmouth fans, the outcome was similar. In 2015, the Redmen more than doubled-up on the Trojans, defeating Portsmouth 38-14 in Pedro, Ohio.
This year, when the Redmen visit the Trojans at the Trojan Coliseum in Portsmouth, the weather will be drastically different than it was in 2015. Weather reports currently have kickoff temperature at 81 degrees and partly sunny.
Along with the difference in weather, Portsmouth football coach Aaron Duncan is preparing his team to flip the game’s outcome from last year.
“Last year, it was a miserable game for us, especially the second half of the game when the wheels kind of fell off for us,” Duncan said. “The weather was a factor. It was a really bad, torrential downpour of rain. It was a miserable night all around.”
Portsmouth will be on its home turf this year and Duncan believes his team is prime to redeem itself from last year.
“They’re looking forward to it and the coaching staff is as well,” Duncan said.
Aside from a different venue and weather projection, another difference from last season will be Portsmouth’s record entering the week 4 matchup with the Redmen. The Trojans enter Friday evening’s game with a 2-1 record, opposed to the 1-2 record held last year before entering the game.
“Our kids have a 2-1 record right now and they have goals set,” Duncan said. “Some of those goals are to try to win the OVC (Ohio Valley Conference) and have a winning season and then let the chips fall where they may, as far as the postseason goes.”
Friday’s game against the Redmen will be the first conference game for Portsmouth in the 2016 season. In all, Portsmouth will have seven OVC conference games.
“Rock Hill was a playoff team from last year and they had the upper hand on us,” Duncan said. “Coach (Todd) Knipp does a great job up there and returns quite a few kids off of his team from last year.”
While both teams are looking to compete for an OVC Championship, neither were predicted as the favorites in a preseason poll. Portsmouth was ranked ahead of Rock Hill, predicted to finish fourth in the final standings with Rock Hill following immediately at fifth.
Friday’s game will not only be a way for Portsmouth to redeem itself from its 38-14 loss to Rock Hill last year, but will also give the Trojans a boost in motivation as they attempt a run for the OVC, especially coming off a lopsided loss to Wheelersburg in week 3, 45-0.
To end victorious, Duncan said his team needs to put last week’s loss to Wheelersburg behind them and to be as productive on offense as they were in the first two weeks of the season.
“The biggest thing I’ve told our kids all week in practice was to keep their heads up and their eyes straight forward,” Duncan said. “Last week is over, keep your head up and focused on the task at hand and this week that task is Rock Hill.”
As the Trojans have put last week’s loss behind them, Duncan has kept his team focused on Rock Hill during this week’s practice, while also working on improving the team’s offensive production.
“Obviously we have to generate more offense than we did against Wheelersburg last week and limit Rock Hill’s offensive production,” Duncan said. “They run a Wing-T offense. There’s a lot of misdirection in a Wing-T.”
For high school players, Duncan said his players will need to play assignment football.
“You have to be disciplined and you have to take away things you can take away,” Duncan said. “When you try to make plays that aren’t yours to be making then you’ll be out of position and that’s when they’ll find a crease on you.”
Duncan said the Trojans have been working on their assignments to combat the Wing-T, as well as familiarizing themselves with another favorite of the Redmen, an option style of offense with a midline.
“If we can play disciplined on defense that may help us get them off the field when they are on offense,” Duncan said. “If we don’t play disciplined on defense, it is going to be a dogfight.”
Overall, Duncan expects a great game from the Trojans and Redmen.
“We both have a lot on the line and I think it should make for a good game on Friday night,” Duncan said.
Portsmouth and Rock Hill are scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m. at the Trojan Coliseum in Portsmouth, Ohio Friday, September 16, 2016.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext. 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.