Returning 15 starters from a team that went 7-3 has Coach Tyler Gullion
and his Piketon Redstreaks looking to turn the corner and a make a push
for a postseason spot in this year’s Division IV, Region 15 playoffs.
2007 record: 7-3
Returning 15 starters from a team that went 7-3 has Coach Tyler Gullion and his Piketon Redstreaks looking to turn the corner and a make a push for a postseason spot in this year’s Division IV, Region 15 playoffs. It will not be an easy task considering the Redstreaks play non-league games against Waverly, Nelsonville-York, and Northwest before entering play in the Scioto Valley Conference; however, Piketon returns a lot of weapons on offense and a much improved defense and are anxious to take on the challenge of closing the gap against the elite teams throughout southeast Ohio.
“I feel the key to us taking that next step is coming together and playing as a team,” said Coach Gullion as he prepares for his sixth season at Piketon. “We do have a lot coming back and we have some nice weapons, but we are going to have to share the ball on offense and learn to play together a little bit better on defense.
“It is important that the kids continue to have faith in what we are trying to do,” Gullion continued. “If we can come together we definitely have the ability to close the gap on some of the better teams, but for now, we just have to worry about ourselves and continue to get better.”
The high-powered Piketon offense will be led by quarterback Kenny Helton. At 6-3, 205-pounds, Helton is a gifted athlete that can beat opponents with both his feet and his strong arm. The senior signal-caller has several weapons joining him on offense starting with a fine duo of running backs in Keiffer Reed and Tyler Tackett. Complementing the running of Reed and Tackett will be a pair of big outside targets in Jordan Brabson and Caleb Southworth. Brabson and Southworth both stand at 6-4 and both are exceptional athletes that are extremely difficult to handle one-on-one on the outside.
If the Piketon offense has a question mark, it most likely would be up front. Piketon did lose over half of its offensive line to graduation, but the Redstreaks will look to third-year starter in right tackle Rickey Moore to anchor a capable, yet unproven offensive line.
“I really do,” a confident Gullion said when asked if he felt the new pieces in his offense were ready to step in and contribute. “We have a lot of guys who have varsity experience, but now we are asking them to move to some new spots. I really feel we have some guys that can do the job, it’s just a matter of getting them some experience and get them comfortable with what we are trying to do.”
Defensively, the Redstreaks have really grown up from last year to this year. Over half of last year’s defensive unit was made up of sophomores and although the Piketon defense did show some signs of being really solid the Redstreaks also went through some struggles. Coach Gullion mentioned some various fundamentals such as tackling that has to get better in 2008, but the coach’s main concern goes back to getting this unit to play as one.
“We missed way too many tackles last season to be a championship team,” said Gullion. “This is an area we need to improve, and I think the key is getting more guys to the ball. Tackling many of the talented kids we play against one-on-one is very difficult. It is important we come together as a defensive unit and start getting three or four guys to the ball.”
The 2008 defensive unit will be anchored by a strong group of linebackers. Senior Jimmy Mays returns to anchor Piketon’s 4-4 front, and will get plenty of help from Ben Ervin, Jordan Miller, Aaron Lightle, and Jamie Helton. Even though several guys up front like Lee George and Josh Pate will be asked to move over and fill some gaps on the offensive line, Piketon’s defensive line should have some great depth that will free up the fine linebacker group to fly to the football.
Another area Piketon hopes to improve from a year ago is in the kicking game. The Redstreaks will look to Brabson to sure up some of the special team issues as well as some young kids that have some potential to compete for a spot as well.
Piketon’s difficult schedule will begin in week one with fellow Pike County rival Waverly. The Redstreaks will then stay home in week two to host Nelsonville-York before traveling to McDermott Northwest in week three. Many feel Piketon has the best chance to dethrone Williamsport Westfall, but Piketon will face tough road tests at Zane Trace in week four, at Paint Valley in week six, and at Adena in week eight, before Piketon finally welcomes Westfall in week nine.
“The league should be solid, but until someone knocks them off they are definitely the team to beat,” said Gullion of Westfall. “They return some great talent and great speed, and they are so well coached up there at Westfall you know any concerns they have now will be taken care of before they start league play in week four.”
9/5 @ NORTHWEST (MC DERMOTT)
9/12 @ ZANE TRACE (CHILLICOTHE)
9/19 UNIOTO (CHILLICOTHE)
9/26 @ PAINT VALLEY (BAINBRIDGE)
10/3 @ SOUTHEASTERN (CHILLICOTHE)
10/10 @ ADENA (FRANKFORT)
10/17 WESTFALL (WILLIAMSPORT)
10/24 HUNTINGTON (CHILLICOTHE)