Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
You couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2019 high school football season. On what turned out to be a picture perfect night — I even broke out a long-sleeve shirt — Week 1 provided all that we love about the game.
My crew — my dad and uncle tag along on Friday nights — made a short trip to Waverly to witness the Tigers hand Athens a 30-27 loss in a thriller.
But there’s plenty of other area excitement to highlight. Here’s this week’s Sunday Morning QB.
Week 1 Takeaways
A. Let’s start in Waverly, where if Payton Shoemaker keeps playing the way he did Friday, he may be awarded a key to the city soon. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior seemed to glide through Athens’ defense to the tune of 207 rushing yards on 22 carries and four touchdowns. He was slippery, he was dynamic with the football in his hands, he was everything you’d want to see out of a running back … and he even did it with a cast on his right arm. Here’s the scary part: Waverly can also air the ball out if need be. Haydn’ Shanks is a more-than-capable quarterback with plenty of weapons to choose from. But in Friday’s win, they didn’t even need to rely on the passing game with Shoemaker running the show. The Tigers already look like a playoff team, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
MORE FOOTBALL COVERAGE
PHOTOS: Waverly beats Athens 30-27 … Unioto beats Vinton County 14-13 … Jackson beats Wellston 23-6
GAME STORIES: Adena’s 41-14 win over McClain … Waverly’s win over Athens … Unioto’s win over Vinton County … Jackson’s win over Wellston
VIDEOS: SE’s Lane Ruby discusses win over Northwest … Unioto’s Isaac Little and Tim Diamond after VC victory … Waverly’s Payton Shoemaker after 207-yard rushing performance … Adena’s Preston Sykes after win
B. Jackson beat Wellston … but the Ironmen can’t be satisfied with their performance. After heading into halftime with a 21-0 lead Saturday night, Wellston outscored Jackson 6-2 in the second half, forcing and recovering a fumble in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter. The Rockets forced three turnovers, frustrating quarterback Jared Icenhower, and hung around way too long for Jackson’s liking. With a trip to Athens on the agenda in Week 2, coach Andy Hall’s team will have to put together four solid quarters. They have the players to do so in Icenhower, tailback Brice Graham, receiver Tristan Prater, etc. Now, it’s just a matter of execution.
C. If the final score in Ironton didn’t make you raise your eyebrows, I’m not sure what else would. The Fighting Tigers handled Wheelersburg in convincing fashion, handing the Pirates a 30-6 loss. For reference, the last time ‘Burg lost by 24-plus points was in Week 2 last season in a 51-20 loss to Bishop Hartley … who the Pirates host this Friday. In Week 3, they have a date with Ashland Blazer (Ky.), who’s 2-0 with 21-13 and 53-7 wins. Don’t get me wrong, Ironton is as formidable of an opponent as they come. But the question poses itself … could ‘Burg really start 0-3? The season-opening result, and the current injury report, certainly makes it look possible.
Southeastern’s Lane Ruby picked up where he left off last season, rushing for 141 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-7 win over Northwest. His backfield mate Mikey Nusser also helped out, galloping for 94 yards and two more scores.
In a 14-13 win at Vinton County, Unioto quarterback Isaac Little made his first start as a Tank and completed 7-of-13 passes for 141 yards while tallying 55 more on the ground including a touchdown.
Adena’s Preston Sykes had quite the night. The junior signal caller balled out in a 41-14 win over Adena, throwing for 151 yards and rushing for 110.
In a blowout 47-8 win over KIPP Columbus, West’s William Journey carried the ball 24 times for 196 yards and two scores. The Senators have one of the best offensive lines in the SOC. Journey’s stat line proved that.
One Final Thought
Down 13-7 early in the first quarter, Paint Valley finally started to play like … well … Paint Valley. The Bearcats seemed to quickly figure things out after a slow start Thursday, rolling over Eastern by a 56-13 final. After finishing 11-1 in 2018, steep expectations have surrounded the team since. Thursday, they rose to the occasion in front of a packed house while opening a brand new facility. Next week, the Bearcats travel to Pleasant with a chance to go 2-0. Then, it’s a home date with Newark Catholic. If coach Pete Hollon and company can find a way to enter Scioto Valley Conference play at 3-0, already battle-tested, I think this year’s version of the Bearcats can be one of the best in recent history … and yes, even better than last fall.
- Waverly (1-0) … 2. Jackson (1-0) … 3. Wheelersburg (0-1) … 4. Paint Valley (1-0) … 5. Adena (1-0) … 6. Unioto (1-0) … 7. Minford (1-0) … 8. Southeastern (1-0) … 9. West (1-0) … 10. Chillicothe (0-1)