Ferry set to visit Wheeling CC
WHEELING – Week after week when Coach Mike Young and his Wheeling Central football team look at the schedule they are seeing a formattable foe waiting for them that weekend.
This Friday night will be no different as the unbeaten and highly-touted Maroon Knights (6-0) welcome 5-2 Martins Ferry to Bishop Schmitt Field on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University.
Central, which has five teams on its schedule already with at least five wins and two more with four, is coming off another impressive victory last week, downing Steubenville Central by a 31-14 count at Harding Stadium.
“Week-in and week-out we line up against teams that are very good and I believe this is the toughest schedule I have had as a coach,” Young said. “But we need to continue doing what we are doing, we have been very successful and have stopped some good offenses.”
Meanwhile, first-year Head Coach Chas Yoder watched his team drop a 22-0 decision to Indian Creek last Friday night. It was a game in which the Purple Riders lost leading rusher Caleb Olson early in the contest to an ankle injury.
In that game the Ferry defense allowed 342 total yards of offense while with Olson missing the Riders were limited to just 153 on offense. Big plays really hurt Yoder’s defense, including a 79-yard scoring pass and 44-yard touchdown run.
Junior quarterback Jake Probst leads the offense and has completed 57-of-111 passes for 843 yards and nine touchdowns, with six interceptions, on the year. If available, Olson will be looking to improve on 601 yards and seven scores for the season. As of Wednesday Olson’s availability for this week was uncertain.
“No question we missed Caleb last week, but it is all part of football,” Yoder commented. “We have had a couple of two-way starters go down this year. You hate to lose kids to injury, but you also have to have the next-man-up mentality.”
With Olson sidelined last week, sophomore Trevor Hanson carried 13 times for 28 yards. Senior Mason Goddard and junior Dasyn Hores each had three catches for 37 and 21 yards, respectively.
Heading into the rare home shutout Martins Ferry had been averaging 36 points a contest.
“Martins Ferry is big, they are physical and just like us they have played a heck of a schedule,” Young commented. “There is no question that we are going to have our work cut out for us Friday.
“They have a good balance of run and pass and they have the same aggressiveness as any Martins Ferry team. I know they have a new coach, but the kids have done a good job adjusting and making that transition. They just haven’t skipped any beats.
“We are going to have to be very good on defense and put points on the board.”
There have been no such issues, either on offense or defense, for Wheeling Central this season. The offense has been rolling up points and yardage at a hectic pace while the defense has not allowed more than 14 points in a game, both of those coming the previous two weeks. The Maroon Knights have also recorded three shutouts on the campaign.
Junior quarterback Curtis McGhee makes the Central offense go, both with his arm and his feet. McGhee is an impressive 59-of-89 through the air for 1,022 yards and 17 touchdowns with only a pair of interceptions. He also leads the rushing attack with 68 carries for 427 yards and five more scores.
Senior Bray Price has 42 carries for 322 yards and six touchdowns on the ground and has caught 21 passes for 380 and five more. Price also had a huge 100-yard interception return for a score last week.
Anthony Robbins (3-56-td) and Jalen Creighton (2-47-td) are also big targets in the passing game and both scored against the Crusaders.
“Obviously they are a very good football team with a lot of returning players,” Yoder said. “They have a nice quarterback and a running back that does it all. They are also very well balanced and coached.
“This is a game that we really need to win if we want to give ourselves a chance to reach our ultimate goal of getting into the playoffs.”
After Friday night the challenges will not get any easier for the Maroon Knights who will play Portsmouth West (6-1) at a neutral site before finishing the season at Shadyside (6-1) and against a dangerous Magnolia (4-3) team.
“Our kids have definitely stepped up to all the challenges and do what they do,” Young added. “And I give all the credit to them and my coaching staff. We put it all on paper for them and they go out and execute the schemes.
“It’s difficult for high school kids to stay focused every week, but these kids have lived up to the high standards and expectations that we have for them.”
Martins Ferry recorded a 38-19 victory a season ago after the two teams renewed their rivalry. The last time they had played before that was a 10-7 Wheeling Central win in 2010.