Portsmouth West football
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Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

Sideline to Sideline: Digging into Week 3 HSFB action

Our Derrick Webb takes a deep dive into his notebook after Week 3.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

We’re two weeks away from being halfway through the 2023 football season.

Every single year, it goes by so, so fast. Enjoy Friday nights. They come and go in the blink of an eye, yet they’re some of the most memorable nights of the year we’ll have.

Unioto was where my crew decided to go this past weekend — my dad, Joel, and uncle Neil tag along on Friday nights. We witnessed an entertaining affair, one that included two hook-and-ladder play calls, between the Shermans and Waverly.

But there’s plenty of other area excitement to highlight. Here’s this week’s edition of Sideline to Sideline.

Jackson’s Bodhi Wolford helped the Ironmen beat Wheelersburg on Friday.
CREDIT: Brock Netter/SOSA


1. Jackson is back. Following an uncharacteristic loss at Ironton in Week 2, the Ironmen bounced back in a big way this past weekend. Led by a herculean effort from Cade Wolford, Jackson topped Wheelersburg by a 28-20 final. This team undoubtedly lost talent to graduation. But we may not have fully recognized what they were bringing back. Wolford can do everything you’d ask for and when you throw him on an Andy Hall-led roster that also includes the likes of Nolan Johnson, Bodhi Wolford, Ryan Seimetz and others, the result is success. Western Brown and Ross are next on the docket. It should come as no surprise if the Ironmen go into conference play at 4-1 before rolling through that slate as well.

2. Take a test ride on Piketon’s hype train, but don’t buy the vehicle just yet. I’m not saying the Redstreaks aren’t capable of winning the SVC title. I’m just saying the teams they’ve played this season are a combined 0-9. Weeks 5, 6 and 7 are where they’re going to be tested the most — Zane Trace, at Unioto and Paint Valley. However, having said that, there’s no doubt this team has a ton of talent. Buddy Wilson is a grown man, Luke Gullion can toss around the rock with the best of them and Zane Brownfield doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Wilson has rushed for 342 yards, Gullion has thrown for 531 and Brownfield has a team-leading 22 tackles. Throw in Mason Thacker and Brent McGuire, the team’s top two receiving options, and you’ve got a great roster … on paper, at least. Measuring stick time for the ‘Streaks is coming soon.

3. Westfall at Unioto is an underrated matchup this Friday. Three weeks ago, we may have thought this game would end in a blowout, going Unioto’s way. But things have changed. Westfall, led by Bryce Wickline, Joey Wright, Trent Walters and Jaden Towler, has shown the ability to put up points in bunches — the Mustangs are averaging 43 points in their two wins over Madison Plains and Circleville. And although the Shermans would beat both of those teams as well, it’s still noteworthy. Unioto’s 28-14 loss to Waverly was much closer than the final score looked. The Shermans had a 14-0 lead and simply didn’t show up in the second half. But their offensive options, namely Newton Hoops, Connor Dollison, Caden Cutright and Blake Hoops, are bonafide playmakers. Will we see a shootout? It could happen. One thing is for certain … It’s a big, early-season game. Westfall has a golden opportunity to make a statement.

Offensive Juggernauts

Waverly’s Kody Swords has been absolutely terrific this season. He did nothing to change that on Friday in a 28-14 win over Unioto. Swords was the favorite target of quarterback Mason Kelly all night long, hauling in 10 catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns — scores of 46 and 72 yards. In three games, Swords has 20 catches for 492 yards and four touchdowns.

Landon Thompson and Camden Redd both came to play on Friday. Logan Elm’s star offensive pair was the engine that kept the Braves’ offense running hot. On the ground, Thompson rushed 21 times for 142 yards and three touchdowns while Redd did his damage through the air, hauling in seven catches for 121 yards and a pair of scores. Logan Elm is 3-0.

As our own Brock Netter wrote in his postgame story from Jackson’s win, running back Cade Wolford wasn’t sure if he was even going to play on Friday due to sickness. So when he did, he showed up like Michael Jordan did in Game 5 in ‘97. Look it up. Wolford polished off a win over Wheelersburg with 199 total yards of total offense, alongside three of the team’s four scores.

How about the connection between Nelsonville-York’s Makhi Williams and Landon Inman? In a 47-19 win over Liberty Union, Williams connected with Inman six times for 174 yards and four touchdowns. Williams ended his night 12-of-14 passing for 258 yards and five scores. The Buckeyes, following a razor-thin loss to Trimble in Week 1, have won two straight. 

Getting Defensive

As if we didn’t already have an idea of just how good Ironton is this fall, the Tigers made it glaringly known that they’re still the team to beat in the area on Friday. In a 62-14 win over Fairland — a decent team in its own right — Ironton’s defense allowed just 170 yards of total offense, eight first downs and limited the Dragons’ ground game to 34 yards on 23 carries. Coming into the week, Fairland had scored 32 and 56 points in its first two games. Then, the Dragons looked pedestrian against their rival. Ironton is every bit as good as it usually is. They should, and do, have state championship hopes.

Don’t look now, but Chesapeake is sitting at 3-0. The Panthers’ latest victory came in a 47-13 rout of Sothern, a game where the defense made the Tornadoes look like a minor wind storm. Chesapeake surrendered just 214 yards and five first downs. Southern rushed 17 times for 36 yards and had five turnovers — two picks and three fumbles. The Panthers will now meet with Gallia Academy, also 3-0, this coming weekend. That’ll be a great measuring stick. A win catapults them into the conversation of being a contender.

Downright Dominant

We could just rename this section after Notre Dame’s Jordan Davis. I’m considering it. Davis was, again, magnificent in the Titans’ 46-17 win over Fisher Catholic, Davis rushed 26 times for 193 yards and four touchdowns. ND has plenty of options. But Davis has proven to be a one-man wrecking ball.

Make it two weeks in a row where West running back Mason Parker has made defenses look foolish. In a 49-34 win over Hillsboro, Parker ran wild to the tune of 257 yards on just 20 carries — an average of 12.9 yards per rush. Meanwhile, Jeffery Bishop added 139 yards on 13 carries and four touchdowns of his own. The Senators, in total, had 592 yards of offense. Ridiculous.

Ironton’s Bailey Thacker completed 10 passes in Friday’s win over Fairland. Four of those completions went for touchdowns. Thacker was 10-of-13 through the air for 218 yards and four scores, hooking up with Shaun Terry three times for 129 yards and three scores. The Thacker-Terry duo has become an absolute weapon. It’s fun to watch.

Did you know?

After wins over Zane Trace, Westfall and Miami Trace, Logan Elm is 3-0 for the first time since 2014. That season, the Braves started 6-0 before seeing the wheels fall off, finishing 7-4 and seeing their season end at the hands of Jackson in a first-round playoff game. The Ironmen lost to Columbus DeSales in the next round, who then lost to Athens in Week 13 — a team led by quarterback Joe Burrow.

Shot of the Week

What a shot. Rock Hill topped Oak Hill on Friday, improving to 2-1. But not before our Renee Nemeth caught this moment.
CREDIT: Renee Nemeth/SOSA

Power Rankings

1. Ironton (3-0) … 2. Jackson (2-1) … 3 Logan Elm (3-0) … 4. Gallia Academy (3-0) … 5. Wheelersburg (1-2) … 6. Waverly (2-1) … 7. Coal Grove (3-0) … 8. Notre Dame (3-0) … 9. Piketon (3-0) … 10. Unioto (2-1)


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