The 2009 season started out on a bit of a rough note for Wheelersburg who lost 24-8 to Ironton, but it proved to be
only a temporary setback as the team learned from the opener to make a
run to the playoffs.This year expect the Pirates ship to sail into the postseason as well.
2009 Record: 9-3
* Players To Watch: RB/DB Brandon Schankweiler (5-11, 180, sr.), WR Andy Stegman (6-5, 200, sr.), OL Joey Reinhardt (6-3, 290, sr.), OT/DL Dan Hudgel (6-1, 250, sr.), OL/DL Jeb Conkey (5-11, 225, sr.), G/DL Chris Prater (6-2, 235, sr.)
* Outlook – The 2009 season started out on a bit of a rough note for the Wheelersburg Pirates with a 24-8 loss to Ironton, but it proved to be only a temporary setback as the team learned from the opener to make a run to the playoffs.
“We had a great season,” head coach Rob Woodward said. “We open up every year against a powerhouse in Ironton, and we were on the losing end of that game and it really exposed some areas of weakness that we needed to focus on going into the season. We were able to correct those and win the next few games.”
Successes aside, the Pirates still remember two tough losses in particular from the 2009 season – a one-point midseason loss to Minford and a one-point playoff loss to Fredericktown. The team wants to use those games as motivation in the 2010 season.
“In three losses last year we had two games where we lost each by one point and had opportunities to win in the last 30 seconds,” Woodward said. “We had a great performance but just weren’t able to overcome some of those challenges we were faced with. We have 19 seniors returning, and they all remember those ball games last year and want to make sure that they work hard and avenge those losses.
“Each and every week is a challenge. We have to be hitting on all cylinders to do the little things that it takes to win ball games. Every inch and every second counts in a football game, and you see that across the country on Friday and Saturdays when teams play. We were able to experience two of those real tight games that we definitely wish would have come out in our favor but didn’t, and our kids had to learn how to work through that and not allow that to happen again in the future.”
In addition to returning a group of 19 seniors, the Pirates return 10 starters (seven offense, three defense) this season.
“We’ve got a very good, hardworking group this year,” Woodward said. “We hope that our individuals step up to the plate and are able to show good quality character and good leadership.”
Offensively, things look good up front for the Pirates as Woodward expects the offensive line to be a strength of the team.
“We return our entire offensive line minus Zach Frowine, who was our center, so we have to fill that spot,” Woodward said. “We’ve got a lot of big guys up front; we’re averaging right at about 6-1, 240 or 250 across the line… We’re going to have a good offensive line, and I think that’s going to be the backbone out of our offense.”
Running behind that line will be running back Brandon Schankweiler, who rushed for 1,300 yards last season.
“He’s been a two-year starter for us and has been a major contributor in terms of yards and touchdowns the past two years, so we look for a big year out of him,” Woodward said.
Quarterback and receiver will be two positions where Wheelersburg will be looking for people to step up.
“We’re going to have to decide where we’re going with the quarterback position, whether it will be Brandon Miller or another individual who steps into that role and look at who will be manning that offense, as well as some other skill position players,” Woodward said. “Andy Stegman is out there at receiver for us at 6-5, 200 pounds. He’s another talented athlete that we’ll have out there. It’s just going to be a matter of offensively just seeing who’s able to fill into those positions and how well we gel together.”
On defense, the Pirates have to replace eight departed starters.
“We lost a number of key individuals on the defensive side of the football – major contributors on the defensive line and the secondary as well as the linebacking positions,” Woodward said. “We’ve got a lot of spots to fill there, but we’ve got a lot of guys that have worked really hard – a lot of guys that could have contributed last year but had other individuals in front of them, and that just prevented them from being able to step into the limelight on Friday night. We look for a big year out of them, but we’re hoping they can show a little bit of maturity and a little bit of experience as we go through what seems to be a pretty good, tough schedule this upcoming year.”
* Schedule – That schedule features a couple dynamite non-conference opponents and some challenging in-conference foes.
“We open up every year with Ironton,” Woodward said. “We have to be hitting on all cylinders in order to play a physical, well-machined team like the Ironton Fighting Tigers. We follow up that game with a very talented Oak Hill Oaks team; Oak Hill was undefeated through the season and lost in the second round of the playoffs. They return a lot of key players, so that’s going to be a huge game for us.
“We follow that with the Portsmouth Trojans, who were a young team last year, and they return a lot of guys so they’ll be ready to go. We added Fairland to our non-conference schedule and round up non-conference with Rock Hill. Both teams always put a good group out on the field.
“Then our conference play is always challenging with Minford, Portsmouth West, Valley, Waverly, all those right up there at the top battling for the conference title. So there’s some big challenges that lie ahead. I think each and every week, all ten games, are going to be a challenge for the Pirates this year.”
8/27/2010 Ironton (D-IV)
9/3/2010 at Oak Hill (D-V)
9/10/2010 Portsmouth (D-IV)
9/17/2010 at Proctorville Fairland (D-IV)
9/24/2010 Ironton Rock Hill (D-IV)
10/1/2010 Minford (D-V)
10/8/2010 McDermott Northwest (D-IV)
10/15/2010 at Waverly (D-III)
10/22/2010 at Lucasville Valley (D-V)
10/29/2010 at West Portsmouth Portsmouth West (D-IV)