PARKERSBURG -Suppose your favorite high school football team returns:
- A third-year starter at quarterback who has been named the Most Valuable Player at several prestigious football camps over the summer.
- A senior running back who gained more than 1,000 yards last year and won the leadership award at a combine in Cincinnati.
Photo by Dave Poe
Parkersburg South head football coach Jon Bolen, left, speaks to his players during a recent team practice. The Patriots open their 2012 campaign against Ripley.
- A receiving corps that includes a first team all-state selection from a year ago.
- Nearly its entire defensive unit that ranked fourth in the state in points allowed.
- One of the state's top kickers as well as one of its best punters.
PARKERSBURG SOUTH PATRIOTS
Aug. 31:Linsly at Bethany College
Sept. 7:at Morgantown
Sept. 14:at Musselman
Sept. 28:Friendship Collegiate Academy
Oct. 5:at Parkersburg
Oct. 26:Wheeling Park
Nov. 2:John Marshall
That's the situation this fall if your favorite team happens to be Parkersburg South.
Ever since the current crop of seniors arrived on campus as freshmen, Patriot fans have been pointing to this season. A season that indeed could be a special one.
South is coming off its first playoff win since the Patriots won the Class AAA state championship in 2003. It is led by a veteran coach -Jon Bolen -who has told his troops this will be his last year at the Patriot helm.
Although South has been a wing-T team offensively in recent years, Bolen took one look at the immense offensive talent on the roster and decided that a spread offense would best suit the speed and talent the Patriots' possess.
South has several game-breaking athletes who need only the ball in an open field to virtually assure six points. The Patriots have so many weapons in their offensive arsenal, they will be a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.
Start with senior quarterback Tyler Bolen, the son of the head coach who has been the starting quarterback since his sophomore season. Bolen literally has grown up. He stands around 6-foot-2. In addition to height, he's gained weight and strength. He's been impressive at summer camps, significantly elevating his stock with college recruiters, including being named the MVP at the National Underclassmen Combine in Lexington, Ky. He's an intelligent quarterback known for making the right decisions.
Bolen is surrounded by an immensely talented group of skill people. That includes the two seniors many regard as the best athletes in the school, both of whom will serve as receivers. Logan Cox is a returning first team all-state selection who is a standout in football, basketball and track. Wes Mitchem has been a star basketball and baseball player, but hasn't been a member of the football roster. He provides Bolen with a big target who can leap with the best of them.
Although South intends to throw the ball more this year, it won't be abandoning its running game. Not with the likes of speedster Jordan Quiocho in the backfield. Quiocho made an impression on the program the first time he touched the ball as a freshman and he's only gotten better with each passing season. He topped the 1,000-yard mark last season while sharing the ball with several others. Over the summer, he won the leadership award at the combine in Cincinnati. He'll be joined in the backfield by Cody Hively, one of the team's defensive standouts from a year ago who will go both ways this fall.
Then there's Braxton Johnson, yet another player who can both run and catch the ball and fly once he gets it in his hands.
All of those talented skill players will be protected by a large and veteran line that can both run or pass block. It is led by seniors Alex Williams, Jake Fieler and Mack White, juniors Logan Dilliner and Gage Stephens and sophomore Thomas Hall.
Many of those same players will anchor the defense. It was defense where South shined a year ago, putting up top 5 numbers in the Mountain State. There's no reason to think the Patriots won't do that again this season.
What makes South so good is its special teams. Not only does it have a standout kicker in Isaac Boles but it also has a top-notch punter in Johnson. Plus, all those speedy backfield and receiving corps members double as kick and punt returners.
There's simply no weakness on this team.
What could make the 2012 season a difficult one is one of the most rugged schedules in school history. Not only do the Patriots play road games against Morgantown and Musselman, two of the teams that beat South a year, but they also play a pair of charter schools in Linsly and Friendship Christian Academy, the latter a Washington D.C. powerhouse that boasts as many as a dozen Division 1 prospects. Throw in games with crosstown rival Parkersburg, Brooke and Wheeling Park, and the Patriots will be challenged in a majority of their games.
Still, there's no reason to think South won't be a playoff team come November.