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Optimistic Big Reds 'Eye' Big Improvement in 2014

With their five leading tacklers returning on defense and some offensive skill to go with it the 2014 Parkersburg Big Reds are looking forward to the start of the season and hope to pick up where they left off last year.

This year's Big Red squad will be trying to continue the two game winning streak that they ended the 2013 season with and a third straight win would be number 800 in the history of Parkersburg High School.

That would make PHS only the eighth team in the history of high school football in this country to reach that plateau. And although they only finished 4-6 overall a year ago they were three points from a 6-4 season that would have put them in the playoffs.

A core of solid returning players, mixed with some young talent from a successful freshman team that became the junior varsity team late in the year, had the PHS coaching staff looking forward to the 2014 season despite a murderous MSAC schedule that includes five of the top Class AAA teams in the entire state.

The Big Reds must play conference powerhouses Cabell Midland, Capital, South Charleston, Huntington and George Washington in addition to long-time rivals Beckley and Riverside. Their non-conference foes are rivals Marietta and Parkersburg South and their home opener is on the road at Warren Local.

Head coach Don Reeves starts his fifth season with expectations to improve on a defense that allowed 33.5 points per game a year ago. Those expectations rest on the shoulders of Chase Shank, Austin Brown, Max Chefren, Josh Trembly, Austin Life and other returning defenders.

Shank led the team with 105 tackles, including 9.5 for loss and three sacks. Brown and Chefren chipped in with over 60 tackles each while Trembly and Life both had over 50 stops. Brown, Chefren and Life all had over 11 tackles for loss with Chefren and Life getting five sacks each.

Dan Fox returns to the secondary after intercepting three passes a year ago. He will be joined by seniors Cory Woodford, Trembly and Shank, juniors Nick Johnson, Jarrid Winters, Alex Lott and Terrance Tate (a transfer from Huntington High) and sophomore Easton Martin.

All three linebackers are back as Life and Brown are once again joined by Corey Burdette, who missed four games with an injury. Other linebackers are sophomore Tyler Lawrentz, who was impressive in frosh and jayvee games, as well as juniors John Staten and Noah Weaver.

Up front, Charley Conley returns and the 260 pounder is stronger and quicker after a successful season on the wrestling mats over the winter. Juniors Tyler Greathouse (215 pounds) and Kendell Leary (192) along with seniors Jon Null (6-5, 240) and Chefren (212) and sophomore Isaac Edman are the top candidates at end.

Offensively, PHS must replace two-year starting quarterback Aaron Roberts and state sprint champion Chandler Hamilton, the team's leading rusher.

Trembly inherits the quarterback slot, a position he filled in admirably a year ago by passing for three touchdowns and completing half his passes. Two years ago he was a 1,000 yard passer for Wirt County High School.

Burdette returns to be the primary running back after bulling his way for 369 yards in just parts of six games while Shank and Fox will be the primary wingbacks. Shank ran for 320 yards and scored three times while Fox averaged 10 yards per carry. Both were sprinters on the state championship track team last spring.

Fox has been the team's leading receiver for two straight years and has 46 receptions (8 for touchdowns) for his career. Stephen Dailey (10 catches) and Austin Life (3 TD receptions) give Trembly two more quality receivers to throw to along with some fine young ends.

Josh Roney is back to do the place-kicking after hitting two field goals and 23 of 30 extra points. A replacement must be found for all-state punter Kyle Foster with Fox and back-up quarterback Ethan Airhart the top candidates.

Up front, Conley has been moved to center and Ben McFarland (6-5, 240), who became a rare freshman starter a year ago, has switched to guard. Tackle hopefuls include seniors Null and Chris Carroll (6-7, 310) along with sophomores Tyler White (265) and Owen Webb (225).

In addition to the 61 upperclassmen on the varsity roster there are 30 freshmen under the guidance of veteran coach Dan Fiedorczyk.


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