|Piketon poised to turn the corner and make postseason push
Returning 15 starters from a team that went 7-3 has Coach Tyler Gullion and his Piketon Redstreaks
looking to turn the corner and a make a push for a postseason spot in this yearâ€™s Division IV,
Region 15 playoffs. It will not be an easy task considering the Redstreaks play non-league games
against Waverly, Nelsonville-York, and Northwest before entering play in the Scioto Valley
Conference; however, Piketon returns a lot of weapons on offense and a much improved defense and
are anxious to take on the challenge of closing the gap against the elite teams throughout southeast
â€œI feel the key to us taking that next step is coming together and playing as a team,â€� said
Coach Gullion as he prepares for his sixth season at Piketon. â€œWe do have a lot coming back and
we have some nice weapons, but we are going to have to share the ball on offense and learn to play
together a little bit better on defense.
â€œIt is important that the kids continue to have faith in what we are trying to do,â€� Gullion
continued. â€œIf we can come together we definitely have the ability to close the gap on some of the
better teams, but for now, we just have to worry about ourselves and continue to get better.â€�
The high-powered Piketon offense will be led by quarterback Kenny Helton. At 6-3, 205-pounds,
Helton is a gifted athlete that can beat opponents with both his feet and his strong arm. The senior
signal-caller has several weapons joining him on offense starting with a fine duo of running backs in
Keiffer Reed and Tyler Tackett. Complementing the running of Reed and Tackett will be a pair of big
outside targets in Jordan Brabson and Caleb Southworth. Brabson and Southworth both stand at 6-4
and both are exceptional athletes that are extremely difficult to handle one-on-one on the outside.
If the Piketon offense has a question mark, it most likely would be up front. Piketon did lose over half
of its offensive line to graduation, but the Redstreaks will look to third-year starter in right tackle
Rickey Moore to anchor a capable, yet unproven offensive line.
â€œI really do,â€� a confident Gullion said when asked if he felt the new pieces in his offense were
ready to step in and contribute. â€œWe have a lot of guys who have varsity experience, but now we
are asking them to move to some new spots. I really feel we have some guys that can do the job, itâ
€™s just a matter of getting them some experience and get them comfortable with what we are trying
Defensively, the Redstreaks have really grown up from last year to this year. Over half of last yearâ
€™s defensive unit was made up of sophomores and although the Piketon defense did show some
signs of being really solid the Redstreaks also went through some struggles. Coach Gullion mentioned
some various fundamentals such as tackling that has to get better in 2008, but the coachâ€™s main
concern goes back to getting this unit to play as one.
â€œWe missed way too many tackles last season to be a championship team,â€� said Gullion. â
€œThis is an area we need to improve, and I think the key is getting more guys to the ball. Tackling
many of the talented kids we play against one-on-one is very difficult. It is important we come
together as a defensive unit and start getting three or four guys to the ball.â€�
The 2008 defensive unit will be anchored by a strong group of linebackers. Senior Jimmy Mays
returns to anchor Piketonâ€™s 4-4 front, and will get plenty of help from Ben Ervin, Jordan Miller,
Aaron Lightle, and Jamie Helton. Even though several guys up front like Lee George and Josh Pate
will be asked to move over and fill some gaps on the offensive line, Piketonâ€™s defensive line
should have some great depth that will free up the fine linebacker group to fly to the football.
Another area Piketon hopes to improve from a year ago is in the kicking game. The Redstreaks will
look to Brabson to sure up some of the special team issues as well as some young kids that have
some potential to compete for a spot as well.
Piketonâ€™s difficult schedule will begin in week one with fellow Pike County rival Waverly. The
Redstreaks will then stay home in week two to host Nelsonville-York before traveling to McDermott
Northwest in week three. Many feel Piketon has the best chance to dethrone Williamsport Westfall,
but Piketon will face tough road tests at Zane Trace in week four, at Paint Valley in week six, and at
Adena in week eight, before Piketon finally welcomes Westfall in week nine.
â€œThe league should be solid, but until someone knocks them off they are definitely the team to beat,
â€� said Gullion of Westfall. â€œThey return some great talent and great speed, and they are so well
coached up there at Westfall you know any concerns they have now will be taken care of before they
start league play in week four.â€�