PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — Portsmouth can scheme for Fairland’s vaunted secondary, hard-hitting linebackers and strong defensive line, but the weather presents a more difficult challenge.
The Trojans (6-1 overall, 4-0 Ohio Valley Conference) bring their potent passing game to Jim Mayo Memorial Stadium in Rome Township, Ohio, at 7 p.m. Friday to take on the Dragons (5-1, 2-1). At stake are a large number of playoff points and the potential opportunity for an OVC championship.
Friday’s weather forecast is for a temperature in the 60s, with a 60 percent chance of rain during the day and 40 percent in the evening. With an already wet week, the grass playing surface could factor in for a Portsmouth squad that is adept at throwing.
“It’s always hard to win at Fairland,” Trojans coach Bruce Kalb said. “It’s our longest trip so far and it’s the first time we’ve played on grass this season.”
Portsmouth is led by senior quarterback Drew Roe, who has completed 124 of 184 passes (67 percent) for 1,645 yards and 21 touchdowns, with four interceptions. Roe, 5-foot-8, 150 pounds, isn’t afraid to take off if his receivers are covered. He has rushed 69 times for 386 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Roe often throws short and lets his receivers pick up yardage after the catch. The top four pass catchers in the OVC are Trojans. Donovan Carr has 16 catches for 387 yards, Reade Pendleton 33 for 385, Jayden Duncan 27 for 327 and Dariyonne Bryant 20 for 288.
Portsmouth is fifth in Division V, Region 19 with 10.2204 points. The top eight teams at the end of the regular season receive home games in the 16-team playoff field. Portsmouth is tied with week 10 opponent Ironton atop the OVC standings. Fairland is one game back, having lost to the Fighting Tigers 20-14 in overtime.
The Trojans lone loss was Sept. 17 at Waverly in a hastily scheduled game put together when Gallia Academy couldn’t play because of COVID-19 concerns. The Tigers (6-0) won 35-34. Portsmouth and Fairland share two common opponents. The Trojans beat Rock Hill 41-7. The Dragons topped the Redmen 41-6. Portsmouth beat Portsmouth West 34-7 on week after Fairland defeated the Senators 28-27.
Kalb said his team will have to overcome more than the weather. He said the Dragons remind him of his own team.
“Fairland’s big, strong and physical up front and can run the ball,” Kalb said. “They’re quick enough on the perimeter to throw the ball.”