The West Portsmouth Tanks look like a force to be reckoned with in their second year of the Blue Collar Football League as they have outscored opponents 161-0 through two games – between the pre-season and Week 1.
Last week, the Tanks opened up their 2017 season with an 85-0 shellacking of the Carter County Wildcats to follow up a 76-0 shutout of the Wheelersburg Buccaneers in pre-season action.
If the Tanks can keep playing at this level, they might just make a run at the BCFL Championship.
“We’ve got enough depth,” Tanks head coach Jamie Rice told Developmental Football USA. “We’ve come off a national championship with another team, some things didn’t go well and we started a different team. Some of that talent we had accumulated kind of drifted away.
“Our depth wasn’t great last year, whatsoever. Our quarterback from that team ended up not playing. With depth and losing some key guys, we were terrible offensively last year. Defensively, we were young. By the end of the year, we were pretty much a championship caliber defense, we allowed 86 yards in the conference championship game and lost.”
Last year’s BCFL Defensive Player of the Year returns for the Tanks in strong safety Chris Hill, who played collegiately for the University of Lousiana-Lafayette.
“He’ll be a key guy there again for sure,” Rice said. “Luke Brown, he’s playing defensive end this year. I’m pretty excited about him. He’s just a football player and he’s doing a really good job there.”
Offensively, look for the Tanks backfield to start things off and carry a lot of the load for West Portsmouth.
“Quarterback Job Swords, we played one game so far and I think he was 11 of 17, with 249 yards and five touchdowns and he had one rushing,” Rice said. “We have a player, A.J. Williams, he’s a really nice player at running back. He’s very fast and a physical kid. He played with us a little bit last year and he really got in the weight room this year and bulked up pretty good. He’s playing physical and doing a good job pass blocking. He’s a willing blocker, he’s fast and he has really good vision.”
The 2017 season will be an interesting one to follow for sure as teams look to slow down the Tanks. This Saturday, in fact, we’ll get a better idea of exactly how good West Portsmouth is this year as they play the West Virginia Lightning.
“In our conference, we’ve got the West Virginia Lightning, they’re always a physical team, always well-coached,” Rice said. “They’re a well-organized team that’s been around for a long time. They’re in our conference. They’re definitely one of the teams to beat and team called the Columbus Gladiators. I believe they’ll be pretty good this year along with the Butler County Broncos. Both of those teams, I’ve heard they’ve been recruiting pretty well and should be pretty good this year.”
Following the Tanks conference championship loss to end their 7-5 season one year ago, they hit the ground running off the field in hopes of seeing a better outcome in 2017. So far, they’re on the right track.
“It’s going really good this year,” Rice said. “We just started recruiting players and that’s going really well. We have a good system, we have a good structure. The players want to come and play so that really helps a lot. With recruiting, we started right when the season ended.”
At their last home game, the Tanks raised close to $1,000 worth of canned foods to donate to a local pantry. It’s just the first of many things they plan to do to give back to the community this season.
“They brought out some inflatables and things and we raised right at $1,000 worth of food,” Rice said. “This is our second year, we’ve really had to spend quite a bit of the team’s money to kind of fix up the facilities. Now we’re able to do more community stuff, that’s what we’re looking forward to this year, being able to do more of that.”