Road Trip 2015: Petrolia Pirates

The Petrolia Pirates will be opening a brand-new Pirate Stadium this fall, right behind the high school on the northwest side of town.

Now they're looking for something else: their first playoffs trip since 2009.

One reason for optimism? They return 17 letterwinners, including a district-high 8 starters on each side of the ball, after graduating just four seniors this spring.

"We were obviously pretty young last year," says Head Coach Byron Gravitt. "So all those kids have gotten a year older, a year stronger."

That includes at the quarterback position. A year ago, Dane Williams was a sophomore moving from wide receiver to quarterback. Now, he's one of the area's top returning QBs.

"I think last year was definitely a learning experience, jumping in and playing the starting quarterback position," Williams said. "It was definitely a quicker pace."

Dane used last year to build on his chemistry with his receivers, including last year's leading receiver, then-freshman and now-sophomore, Jake Edgemon.

"Me and Dane go back a while," Edgemon said. "You know, growing up together, we really click good. I look at him, he looks at me, he tells me what to do. I mean, I've got my faith in him. I believe that he can take us places."

Dane: "We've all been best buds since I can remember. Pee-wees and midgets, yeah definitely we have good chemistry, and always playing catch together."

But what the Pirates think will make the real difference this season will be in the trenches. 

"We're really big up front, we've got some really good-sized kids," said Coach Gravitt. "[But] I think we need to get better up front."

Last year they had size, but still struggled to move opposing lines. They think that will improve this year, with big men like the 6'5", 285 pound Tanner Hampton and 6'2", 282 pound Billy Kenyon leading the way.

"Our offensive line came to every summer workout, the whole year, just working hard," said Kenyon, a senior. "[We] got strong. I think we're going to move some people up front."

"A lot of it was, they were inexperienced [last year]," Gravitt said. "They were young. And I'm hoping a good offseason -- like I mentioned before, they got stronger -- and I'm hoping that kinda pays off and we get a little better up front."

Because if they can give their skill players time to operate, watch out for the Mighty Pirates in 2015!

Petrolia will open its season August 28th, on the road at Archer City.

Wednesday night, our road trip continues in District 7-2A Div. II with a look at the Electra Tigers!