Catholic looks for 3-0 start vs. South Harrison

PARKERSBURG — Lance Binegar, Parkersburg Catholic’s second-year coach, is not sure what to make of all the attention the Crusaders are getting lately.

That’s what happens when you open the season 2-0 after going 0-8 a year ago.

“Everyone’s congratulating us,” he said. “I don’t even think I had a reporter want to talk to me last year. Now you guys are calling me.”

The Crusaders are trying to get to 3-0 when they host South Harrison at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Stadium Field. If Catholic pulls off another victory the phone calls and well wishes will only multiply.

“I’ve been telling people since the end of last year that we were going to be decent,” Binegar said. “The kids bought into the system last year. They were in the weight room. It’s showing that it does carry over from last year.”

PCHS’ early season success can easily be traced back to a sound running attack that is led by senior Ty Sturm. In last week’s come-from-behind 32-28 victory over Ritchie County, Sturm toted the football 23 times for 227 yards and three touchdowns on runs of 1, 4 and 97 yards. He rushed for more than 100 yards in the season opener – a 47-14 victory over Paden City.

Jeb Boice has also rushed for more than 150 yards this season and has given the Crusaders a strong 1-2 punch out of the backfield.

“The biggest difference from last year to this year is definitely how we’re running the ball,” Binegar said. “They are our thunder and lightning. Ty’s a big strong kid and Jeb is real fast and shifty.”

Binegar said a major reason why the running game has improved is the consistency up front with the offensive line.

“I don’t have much depth, but they’ve been up front leading the way,” he said.

Anchoring the line is junior Wade Smitley, a 6-foot-6, 320-pound bulldozer. Junior Joel Stophel (6-4, 240) and Jalen Brunny (6-1, 215), along with junior center Stephen Garvin (5-10, 160) all entered this season with plenty of experience. The other starter on the line is a former soccer player – junior Stephen Nguyen (5-9, 165).

“He never played football before, but he loves every bit of it,” Binegar said. “He just eats it up.”

In the opener, quarterback Xavier Collie threw just three passes, and two of them were for touchdowns. The other one was an interception. Last week, Collie rushed for a 4-yard TD, while throwing only two passes. However, Sturm completed 3-of-4 passes for 77 yards and one touchdown – 28 yards to Boice.

South Harrison finished 10-2 last year, but the Hawks have struggled through their first two games of 2018 under first-year coach Chris Underwood and enter Friday’s game 0-2.

South Harrison quarterback Jaren Robinson completed 12 of 22 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown in a 52-14 loss in the season opener to Doddridge County. Last week, in a 58-7 loss to Point Pleasant, Robinson threw for 60 yards – all of them going to Landon McFadden.

“South Harrison is a pretty solid 0-2 team,” Binegar said. “They moved the ball well against Doddridge, but the ball bounced Doddridge’s way. They pass the ball a lot and don’t run it much. A big key for us is stop the pass.”