Parkersburg High School's football team could use a 1-800 number for tonight's season-opening football game at Warren Local.
With a victory in the game -which will kickoff at 7 p.m., the standard time for all Southeastern Athletic Conference contests - Parkersburg would record the 800th victory in school history and make PHS only the eighth school in the United States to reach that figure.
While Big Red Nation is focused on that number, it's the No. 1 that is being heard around the PHS football camp. The members of the Big Reds want to start their season with a victory.
"We've talked about a little of both (No. 800 and being 1-0)," said PHS head coach Don Reeves. "We talked about the history of the program at the beginning of the week, but our main focus now is on the opener."
Said first-year Warren head coach Anthony Fish, "When I found out they were going for their 800th win I couldn't have been more impressed. That's phenomenal. But if they're gonna get it against us, they're gonna have to earn it."
The opener comes against a Warren program that PHS defeated in last year's lidlifter, 51-40. That game took place at Don Drumm Stadium in Marietta because Parkersburg's Stadium Field was undergoing renovations that weren't completed in time to host the opener.
Thus, for the second straight year, the PHS-Warren game will take place in Washington County.
Parkersburg came away from its two preseason scrimmages with mixed reviews. The Big Reds looked crisp in their first home scrimmage in three seasons, moving the ball both on the ground and through the air against Winfield. Then, against Spring Valley in the Mountain State Athletic Conference Grid-O-Rama, the Timberwolves kept Parkersburg's first team off the scoreboard while scoring on a pair of long TD passes.
"We know they're fast," Fish said. "They like to run the edges. We've got to get out and stop them before they get out in the open. We're gonna pin our ears back and go get them."
Now, Parkersburg's focus is entirely on Warren.
"Warren is physically big," said Reeves, who noted that both of Warren's lines are anchored by 300-pound Brandon Pahl, a senior standout. "They run a 4-3 defense. They'll put seven guys in the box. Offensively, they will line up in the I-formation and try to pound the ball."
That's a style of football with which Reeves is quite familiar as it represented Parkersburg's philosophy during his playing years.
As for the 7 p.m. starting time, Reeves noted it will be hotter than normal, but should effect both teams equally. All of Parkersburg's other games this season will start at 7:30 p.m.
The game will mark the debut of Josh Trembly as the Big Reds starting quarterback. Trembly, who led Wirt County to the Class A playoffs as a sophomore, spent his junior season at PHS playing behind senior quarterback Aaron Roberts. Now, it's his show to run.
Warren will counter with a senior of its own, Andrew Henthorn, who spent last year backing up senior Austin Klintworth.
Warren will be playing its first game under Fish. The Warriors, a passing team in recent years, plan to run the ball with Jared Isner and Derrick Carey getting the majority of carries.
"We're gonna try to establish the running game," Fish said. "Straight up ground and pound. That's our bread and butter. We're not gonna go away from it if it's working."
Jordan Holland of The Marietta Times contributed to this story.