Inexperienced Hawks preparing for Parkersburg South

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Taking a look at the stats from the University High football team’s season opener against John Marshall, it’s reasonable to say you probably wouldn’t have the Hawks pegged as the winner.

UHS was outgained offensively by the Monarchs — by 196 yards — who returned 20-plus seniors from a playoff squad from last season. However, the Hawks were able to win the turnover margin, coming up with five takeaways for twelve points on the way to an 18-7 victory.

“Our victory last week was a little deceiving,” UHS coach John Kelley said. “Turnovers are the great equalizer and they outgained us by hundreds of yards, but they had five turnovers, and that played a large role.”

This week, the Hawks host another Class AAA foe coming off a postseason run in Parkersburg South (1-0), which coasted to 49-18 win over Ripley in Week 1.

UHS downed the Patriots, 24-7, on the road last season, but a few things have changed. Last time, current Houston quarterback Logan Holgorsen accumulated 413 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns by himself . In Week 1, the Hawks managed just 128 yards and one touchdown as a team offensively.

“Our biggest goal is to try and improve offensively,” Kelley said. “We only gained 100 yards and some change last week, and if you do that, you’re not going to win very many football games.”

Kelley said the key to better offensive production is success of the team’s offensive line, which he describes as a “very young and very weak” group that struggled to control the line of scrimmage last week.

“It starts up front and our O-line has been practicing really hard this week and improving. That has really helped us pick up our chemistry as an offensive unit this week,” UHS cornerback and receiver Andrew Myers said. “We’ve been working really hard on just getting things right.”

Defensively, the Hawks will have their hands full with South’s starting quarterback Brandon Penn, who tallied over 400 all-purpose yards and passed for four touchdowns in the team’s opener.

“He’s a tremendous dual-threat guy, and as far as I can see they go as he goes. You can’t simulate what he does in practice because we don’t have an athlete like him,” Kelley said.

Penn will likely look to stretch the field against the Hawks’ young and inexperienced defense, which will need to contain the edges of the field and avoid giving up large chunks of space.

“Containing is the biggest key,” Myers said. “We have to control the outside of the field. We’ve been practicing and getting better and not giving up those open-field gaps in the secondary this week.”