Our North West Region borders the Valley to the south, splits along the MD/Panhandle, and touches on the Coalfields. It is the largest geographically thus why it is home to the most Single A’s. There are many storied programs through this area of the state with an unmatched uniqueness to every school. Title contenders of every class come from here every single year.
The Second Year
The Big Reds came under new management in 2017 as Coach Mike Byus took over for his first year as head coach. They defended their turf well in 2017 as they went 5-0 in regular season home games. Parkersburg lost three on the road, but they were in some of the hardest conditions “AAA” has to offer. The Big Reds fell to the Huntington Highlanders, Capital Cougars, and Cabell Midland Knights- three powerhouses. A 7-3 record earned Parkersburg a home playoff game in the “AAA” playoffs as they hosted the #10 Monarchs of John Marshall. The Big Reds fell to the Monarchs by a touchdown as John Marshall pulled off an impressive first round upset sending Parkersburg home.
Parkersburg’s biggest loss will be that of their 2017 all-state QB. Other than that, the Big Reds should be locked, loaded, and one of the most potent teams in “AAA”. With strong RB Tyler Moler and an extremely experienced offensive line anchored by OL Ryan Creech, the Parkersburg run game looks to be powerful and consistent. Superstar WR Brenton Strange will be the main leader of the 2018 Big Reds. He will be the primary scorer for Parkersburg and is liable to have a “Kennedy Award” caliber season, leading his team to the promised land.
Taking over for the quarterback position will be transitioning all-state wide receiver Jake Johnson. Johnson can bring a dual-threat explosiveness to this side of the ball. They have experience in the linebacker and secondary groups which should assist in their big-school MSAC schedule. Coach Byus hopes to see an even better year two. The Big Reds will travel to newly-scheduled Morgantown to battle the Mohicans to open the season on big time TV August 23rd.
A New Sheriff
The Patriots were down in 2017 as they were coming off a big season and partially rebuilding. However, it certainly says something about a program when a 6-4 record and a playoff bid are considered a “down year.” Wheeling park dropped games to historical powerhouse Bridgeport and the 2017 undefeated University Hawks by one score each. A late-season upset loss to Morgantown was likely the most unexpected outcome of the Patriots season. Nevertheless, Wheeling Park earned a playoff bid as a #11 seed and made the trip to Charleston to take on the #6 Capital Cougars in the first round. The Cougars were too much for the Patriots as they were outscored 63-21 and sent back to Wheeling.
Wheeling Park will have a lot of potential coming into 2018. The in-between phase is coming to an end and with a talented and seasoned coaching staff, you can bet this new batch of Patriots is ready to compete. We look at Jermain Snodgrass to be the primary leader of this Patriot team. He is one of the best linebackers in West Virginia, and he has a skill set that shows he will be playing at the next level. QB Alex Dunlevy will be commanding the Park offense to replace a career performer. With Jake Stakem as his main target at WR, he can make you pay in the air or on the ground. Wheeling Park is looking solid for 2018, and we expect to see them with 7 or more wins and a high seed in the “AAA” playoffs.
Recent D1 offeree Tristen Bittner captains one of the biggest lines in recent memory. Defensively, Dylan Wood is a muscular defensive lineman that can lead against the smash mouth run. Some new faces will be seen in the runningback positions. Overall, a sleepy good team will mount the field in Wheeling. The Patriots will travel to Brooke week one to take on the Bruins.
The Sleeping Patriot
The Patriots of Parkersburg South didn’t have the best year in 2017. They picked up three wins total, defeating Brooke, Princeton, and Greenbrier East High Schools. Parkersburg South fielded a young team last season who struggled to find their bearings. Though it may seem the Patriots had a very poor 2017 season, they were only a touchdown away from defeating #11 Wheeling Park and only fell to rival Parkersburg by three in the final game of the regular season. ‘
Now that these Patriots have gotten some experience and are familiar with in-game situations, they look to be a problem. Parkersburg South will be returning their starting QB Brayden Moody and nearly the entire offensive line, making for a very experienced offensive unit with a lot of chemistry. Nick Yoho will be a weapon for the Patriots as his running ability is lethal, but he is a talented receiver as well. The Patriots have a shot to turn things around this season and we could even see them finding a spot in the “AAA” playoffs.
The schedule doesn’t pose the week-in week-out terror of the MSAC, but it is not easy by any means. If they win the amount of games we think they should, they can be in a very good position come playoff time. Ripley will come to town August 24th as their opener.
John Marshall had a phenomenal year in 2017, they went 7-3 getting a 1st round playoff upset and advancing on to the second round. However, most of that team is gone and the Monarchs will need to find ways fast to replace those seniors. The Buccaneers of Buckhannon-Upshur did poorly last year but adding some talent and gaining some experience we could see them right at .500 sneaking into the playoffs at a 15 or 16 seed. Brooke is coming off a season in which they learned a lot of lessons. A few experienced players will be returning for the Bruins, but unless an unforeseen playmaker emerges we figure they could be anywhere between 4-6 and 6-4.
FOOTBALL IS ALMOST HERE. Each week we will be diving into one of our four regions. We’ve sliced it up a little different to equal the spread of talent out. We have the Coalfields region, MD (Mason-Dixon) Panhandle region, North West region, and Valley region. We will spend a week on each in that order. Every week will include Monday: Single A, Tuesday: Double A, Wednesday: Triple A, Thursday: Preseason All-Region Team, Friday: Top 10 in the Region. Let’s get it!