Parkersburg Welcomes Class AAA No. 1 Huntington

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Being the underdog isn’t something the Parkersburg Big Reds are used to.

A school with 797 wins, good for seventh most all-time nationally, is too proud to give in to a team ranked first in the state of West Virginia.

That team, the Huntington Highlanders, comes into this game with by far the top defense in the state, only allowing 38 points all season – 6.3 per game.

Huntington (6-0) is coming off a bye week and boasts one of the top rushing attacks in the state as well.

The Highlanders use a combination of Paden Christian, Charles Crawford, and Nick Tubbs to drive opposing defenses wild. Each running back has at least 400 rushing yards.

The good news for Parkersburg (2-4) comes in the fact that Huntington does not utilize the passing game much, which allows the Big Reds to focus on stopping the run.

The Parkersburg defense has not been the problem this season; the lack of production has been primarily on the offensive side of the ball. In a game where that offense is facing the best defense in the Mountain State, execution is key.

“Our biggest problem is we hurt ourselves in the first quarter,” Parkersburg head coach Don Reeves said. “We make mistakes that allow them to go up 7-0 or 14-0 and we are playing from behind the whole game.”

Three of the Big Reds’ top offensive players will not be playing due to injury. Chandler Hamilton (concussion), Melvin Stubbs (foot), and Dan Fox (strained calf) will all miss Friday’s game.

Parkersburg will need its young guys to step up and take on that load this week.

“We’ve seen good and bad,” Reeves said of his younger players. “They have the athletic ability, but they don’t have the football knowledge. They make mistakes where they haven’t had enough game experience where a guy makes a mistake and it hurts the other 10 guys.”

With all the injuries, Parkersburg will need a big game out of senior quarterback Aaron Roberts.

Roberts is second on the team in rushing with 246 yards, trailing only fullback Chase Shank.

Both teams are going to want to run the ball down each other’s throats, but the key will be whether Parkersburg can move the ball and take care of the football.

The smart bet is on the undefeated Highlanders, but don’t count out the Parkersburg Big Reds.

After all, underdog isn’t a word a Big Red uses.