Aug. 5—WEST PORTSMOUTH — Home high school football games will be returning to West Portsmouth this fall — beginning with the Senators' home opener versus Adena on Sept. 2.
A season ago, West played each of its usual home games on neutral fields, while still traveling for its road contests.
With the completion of the brand new turf field which will service the Senators' football and boys soccer programs, there's an emanating from West football coach and athletic director Todd Gilliland and his team.
"It will be awesome. We've already seen the advantages of being able to practice every day on the turf," Gilliland said. "A day that it rains, we don't have to worry about being in the mud and the things that come with that. And we're not even playing games yet. It will be great for the atmosphere of the school, having game nights here again. There's a lot of excitement in the community to get back here at 'The Rock'."
West will host six home games in 2022, including non-league games versus Adena, Wellston and KIPP Columbus — and league (Southern Ohio Conference Division II) contests versus Waverly, Valley, and Wheelersburg.
Four of the Senators' seniors — quarterback Mitchell Irwin, running back and linebacker Ryan Sissel, and linemen Carson Horner and Wyatt Weghorst — say they're looking forward to the prospect of this year's loaded home slate on the program's new field.
"Being back here for all six of our home games starting with week three against Adena, it's going to be packed and it'll be a great atmosphere," Irwin said.
"It's honestly a blessing. This field is beautiful," Sissel said. "If you looked at our old field, you were running uphill sometimes with the crown on it. Last year, when we were playing away or neutral games, you didn't really get that home vibe or edge."
"It's an awesome feeling to have something that everyone else does that we can call our own," Horner said. "Something the whole community has and can use and hopefully can win a lot of games on."
"It's great," Weghorst said. "We're really happy to have it, take care of our bodies and have the equipment that we do."
These four West seniors help make up the 11 in their senior class of the 44 on the roster — as of their Media Day in early August.
Each have seen significant playing time during the early portion of their careers — and believe this year's early-season practices have helped set the tone for what they hope is a successful season.
"It's been pretty good," Irwin said. "We like to bring the intensity, get better at least one-percent every day. Preparing for that first week at Fairland."
"It's been good all summer long," Sissel said. "We all had a bad taste in our mouth after losing to Wheelersburg in the playoffs. We felt like we let one go."
"They've been going really well," Horner said. "We've put in a lot of time, an extra day of workouts this week. What we've seen on the field so far is looking bright going into the season."
"It's good. We've grinded — it's probably the strongest high school team we've had here in awhile," Weghorst said. "Guys staying in the weight room grinding all summer long."
As Irwin mentioned, West opens its 2022 season on the road with contests versus Fairland and Portsmouth — before welcoming the Warriors to 'The Rock' the first weekend in September.
The Senators qualified for the postseason last fall, finishing the year 5-6 and in the first round of the OHSAA playoffs — with a 23-14 loss to Wheelersburg.
Their seniors' goals include competing for the program's first SOC II championship since 2008, and a run deep into the playoffs.
"We're hoping to compete for an SOC championship — that's our number one goal," Irwin said. "And making a deep run in the playoffs. I think we have the talent, the physicality, the intensity level to put it all together."
"We should be really good this year in my opinion," Sissel said. "We're senior-led and everyone's played multiple years at the varsity level. I look for a really good playoff run at the least."
"We have high expectations this year," Horner said. "We had those last year and came up short on some of them. We have a well-led group with a lot of experience and talent. We're looking to make a deep run this year."
"We have really high expectations," Weghorst said. "We have guys that have a lot of experience that have been playing varsity since they were freshmen or sophomores. We think we can make a run this year."
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved