Last year is in the rear view mirror for the Petrolia Pirates, and with 11 seniors and 16 starters coming back, the pirates are primed to make some noise in district 8 1a division 2. Coach Byron Gravitt says he likes what he sees so far, "we've got guys flying around and they've been working pretty hard and really for the first three days i've been somewhat impressed they've been working really hard."
Under center for the pirates is QB Dustin Hanusch. The sophomore quarterback brings more experience to the table this year after getting quality starts as a freshman. Defensive lineman Bodie Cokendolpher led the team with 55 tackles last year. But this year he could fill a big void at the running back position, and a key on both sides of the ball will be running back and linebacker Brandon Shipley. Looking to improve on his 289 yards and 2 TD's from last year, "he has a great work ethic. Brandon is one of those kids that sets his goals high. And he's a hard worker. He's had a tremendous off season and summer. He's been up here getting stronger over the summer. Every rep he does is 100 miles per hour."
And after last year finishing with just one district win. The pirates goal is simple. Make the playoffs. But with teams like Munday and Electra standing in their way, Coach Gravitt says his team knows the road isn't easy, "not one year have we not been in a tough district. There are always state championship type caliber teams. It's going to be a week to week battle and if we don't play well it's going to be tough to win but i think if we do play well we can win some of those games."
Jordan Shipley is in his second year with the pirates, but he knows all to well how tough it can be to win games late in the season, "it's always been a tough district. Munday seems to go to state every year. Muenster has size. But i think except for Muenster this year everything is going to be pretty equal in the district. But i think if we can go out there and work hard and play to our ability we can get it done."
And if the pirates are going to make a run senior Tight End Jacob dove says this is the year to do it, "this is our year to do something. With eleven seniors this is our year to go a couple rounds deep and do something in the playoffs."