Perry Wheeler figures to be a marked player when Marietta High plays Parkersburg High in a non-conference football game at Stadium Field at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
But then, the MHS senior is a marquee running back, and a ground gainer like him is usually keyed on by an opposing defense. The Big Reds (0-1) have one, too, in Point Pleasant transfer Allan Wasonga, who rushed for over 255 yards in a loss to visiting Brooke last Friday night.
The Tigers will definitely need to keep an eye on Wasonga.
Getting to the 6-0, 190-pound Wheeler, who gained a single-game, school record of 320 yards on 33 carries and scored six touchdowns and two 2-point conversions in Marietta's 59-20 season-opening win over the Morgan Raiders at Don Drumm Stadium last Friday night, will not be an easy matter for PHS.
The Big Reds will first have to shed MHS linemen like Keifer Johnson, Justin Sturm, Todd Stacy, Wes Wagner, Cole Hupp, and Keith Whealdon.
"The line was really blowing (Morgan) off the ball," said Wheeler after Friday's games.
Then, there's Tiger fullbacks' Connor Hess and Lance Weppler to deal with. Even skills people like quarterback Morgan Wynn and split end Billy Grizer will block for Wheeler.
Wheeler will have plenty of bodyguards, and even though he may not be a speedburner per se, he's fast enough - and very difficult to bring down.
Just ask Morgan High.
On Marietta's first possession of the game, Wheeler had five of the first six carries for 32 yards. The Raiders knew he was coming but couldn't do a darn thing about it.
Even though the Tigers eventually turned the ball over on downs, the dye was cast - so to speak. Stop him if you can.
On Marietta's second possession late in the first quarter at the Morgan 45, Wheeler touched the ball five straight times, and the Tigers had the ball on the 17 when time expired.
At the start of the second quarter, Marietta changed up a little bit, and Dustin Baker ran for four yards to the 14. Wheeler then took a direct snap to the 9.
Then, at the 10:35 mark, Wheeler capped the scoring drive with a run to paydirt and a 6-0 Tiger lead.
The fun was just beginning for Wheeler and the Tigers.
After Sturm recovered a fumble deep in Morgan territory, Wheeler scored from 14 yards out, and Wynn's 2-point conversion run made it 14.
Before the second quarter was over, Wheeler would rush for another TD of 48 yards, and the Tigers would own a 30-20 halftime advantage.
At the half, Wheeler had 139 yards rushing on 15 carries.
It would get even better after the break.
In the third quarter, Wheeler scored on touchdown runs of 10 yards and 1 yard, and Marietta would stretch its lead to 45-20.
Several fans looked at the press box, and wanted to know how many yards Wheeler had gained so far, because they were piling up - fast.
Early in the fourth quarter, Wheeler scored his sixth TD of the contest, a 7-yard dash to the end zone. Finally, with the record in hand, he got a rest.
Wheeler broke Dave Burke's single-game, rushing mark of 309 yards, set against Athens in 1968, 41 years ago.
The two are now the only Tigers to have ever gained 300-plus yards on the ground in a contest.
After the Morgan game, Wheeler was asked if he felt sore, and he shook his head.
"I feel fine," Wheeler said.
That's got to be bad news for the Big Reds.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441, or at email@example.com