WHEELERSBURG —The Wheelersburg Pirates are preparing for another run at the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Division V Regional Championship.
The Pirates will kick off at 7 p.m. Saturday against the Coshocton Redskins at Athens High School.
This is ‘Burg’s fourth straight year making it to regionals.
In 2013, the Pirates lost at regionals against Columbus Bishop Hartley.
The following year, Wheelersburg lost again to the Bishop Hartley Hawks.
However, in 2015, the Pirates were ready and went into regionals, winning against Zane Trace.
This season, the Pirates are undefeated.
The Redskins are 11-1, losing one game in regular season against Dover High School.
They beat Ironton 34-11 in round one of the playoffs, followed by a win of 23-20 last week against Garaway in round two.
As he prepares his team to show what they are made of, Wheelersburg Coach Rob Woodward stated, “It’s just an outstanding honor to be there and to be able to extend our season to 13 weeks.”
‘Burg has an excellent group of athletes and a proven successful football program.
This is a team that knows how to win and always finds the advantage over their opponents.
When speaking of the football program at ‘Burg and why it is so triumphant, Woodward explained, “Our players have bought into what it takes to get this far.”
He continued by stating that the Pirates would not have achieved so much if it was not for the leadership of the upperclassmen and the work ethic they have instilled in the rising varsity youth.
According to the coach, it is a hunger and a drive in these boys that keeps them excelling consistently.
The Pirates are slated to do well at the championship, bringing some assets to the table that may help to lock down their second consecutive regional championship win.
“Our team speed is at a level we haven’t had since ’09,” Woodward stated. “And, we have a strength that I haven’t seen in a while.”
That combination of both strength and speed has given ‘Burg quite the advantage in both offense and defense and has really offered an interesting element to the Pirates’ special teams.
Still, this weekend’s game is going to be a tough.
“Coshocton is a big, bruising team that runs the ball well,” Woodward stated.
In order to gain the advantage, Woodward explained that the Pirates’ offense is going to have to be lined up and read their keys properly.
They are going to have to effectively take drives right at the Redskins and eliminate any mental hesitations.
“If we keep ourselves in good field position, I think we have a good chance,” Woodward said.
If Wheelersburg gets a victory against Coshocton at Saturday’s regional competition, they will go on to the State Semifinals.
Last year, the Pirates lost at the Semifinals against the Coldwater Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers will also be playing in a regional championship Saturday night with a game against Cincinnati Hill Christian Academy.
The Cavaliers have dominated Division V football for several years and are three time State Champions.
They are the team to beat and may just be in ‘Burg’s future, depending on the outcome of Saturday night’s games.
For now, both teams are taking it one week at a time and doing their best to represent their teams, schools and communities.
Nikki Blankenship can be reached at 740-353-3101 ext. 1924.