Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Oct. 16 newspaper on Page B1.
Tournament season has officially arrived and we’re down to the final three weeks of football season.
I’m beyond ready to make these roadtrips wherever they may lead. My car may not be so ready, but that’s a different subject for another day.
But before the roadtrips start, here’s this week’s ‘Two-Minute Drill’:
Here are the scores from Friday’s slate of games:
Jackson 34, Washington Court House 7
Wellston 36, Nelsonville-York 7
Shadyside 21, Vinton County 0
Wheelersburg 55, Oak Hill 0
I won’t lie to you readers, the subhead is all revolving around Jackson sports.
Starting on the football field, the undefeated Ironmen’s formula is simple: run the ball, hit you with play-action and then create turnovers.
It’s a formula that works Friday after Friday, the only question is which running back of the four they have is the bell cow.
Friday’s answer was Jayden Spires, and the senior back was nothing short of dynamite in the second half. Holding a one-possession lead, Spires put the team on his back and churned his way to a 209-yard rushing performance (169 in the second half) and scored all second half touchdowns for the Ironmen.
I made the prediction before the season started that this will go down as the best team Jackson has had in years, even better than the 2014 team that finished 11-1. Maybe it’s a bold statement, but I’m liking my odds right now.
On the tennis court, MacKenzie Humphreys has been as consist as possible, and that consistency continued in tournament play.
She made it through sectional play and advanced to districts, winning her first match against Claymont’s Brooklyn Poland. However, she ran into now four-time district champion Sylvia Gray of Unioto, and lost 6-0, 6-0.
Although the end result wasn’t as hoped for, it doesn’t take away from the outstanding season she had. Congrats MacKenzie!
On the fairway, Jackson’s Trase Speakman ended his season in Division I district action by shooting a 95 at the Eagle Sticks golf club.
It was a quite a week for Jackson sports, and undoubtedly the community is proud of these athletes for representing the school with great showings at one of the highest levels in the state.
Getting it done
This Wellston team is the real deal, there’s no debating that anymore.
Rylan Molihan, R.J. Kemp, Hunter Smith and Jon Garvin garner most of the headlines since its typically one of those four who are scoring touchdowns, but talking to anyone of those players, they’ll all say the same thing.
‘It’s all credit to the offensive line’. And they’re right. This Wellston offensive line of Zach Howell, Brock Eggers, Josh Bodey, Jarrod Wilbur, Jordan Carey and others have been the foundation of this 180 degree turnaround.
Wellston’s offense is averaging 29.4 points per game, while defensively its stopping teams at state championship rates, allowing just 21 points in the last five games.
Talent alone can win a few games, but coaching and systems is what separates 4-6 teams from the 8-2 playoff teams. Undoubtedly the Golden Rockets got it right hiring head coach Mike Smith.
Friday’s game against Athens is the biggest Wellston has had since 2006. It can claim first place in the TVC and essentially control its destiny for playoffs with a win.
What has me excited
The full swing of tournament play is in full effect and the matchups for area teams are very favorable.
The thing that has me excited is seeing which team(s) can make that Cinderella run to a district championship, whether it’s soccer or volleyball.
The number of questions and storylines are incredible and I need some answers pronto.
Can Jackson boys get back to district play? Does Vinton County win its first sectional title since 1984 to cap a historic season? Will Oak Hill topple an Ironton team that hasn’t played the greatest of competition for a sectional title?
We’ll have all of these answers and more at the end of the day Saturday. Best of luck to all tournament teams, I hope you make it through to districts.