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Jackson Newspapers - Ripley, WV
  • DOUBLE TROUBLE: Jelich Twins pose double the problems for opponents on either side of the football

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  •  RAVENSWOOD - What will be a very special season upcoming is not lost on the Jelich Twins, Connor and Rhys, who will play their final (senior) football season as Red Devils beginning tomorrow (Friday) night with the “100 Years of Red Devil Football” opener at Flinn Field versus the visiting Wahama White Falcons.
    The Jelichs won’t be alone in suiting up for one final go in red and black. They are part of a 16-senior group who have grown up playing the game together.
    “Our group of seniors have played together from midget league on up, so we’re a pretty close bunch,” said Rhys Jelich (5-9, 206), who was named to Class AA All-State Second Team defensive honors in 2013. “We hope to get back to the playoffs, will try to win every game and make it to Wheeling.”
    Football has come full circle for Rhys Jelich. He’s back at quarterback in a set somewhat reminiscent of single wing due to his running prowess—the position which he played and excelled at for Coach Mick Price in middle school.
    “It’s almost exactly the same position I played in middle school and it’s about the same offense, so it’s pretty easy to execute,” said Rhys. “We had great success with this offense in middle school under Coach Price.”
    Jelich is hoping to build on some gawdy all-purpose numbers punt up as a junior running back. He ran for some 750 yards and hauled in around 250 yards in pass receptions and added nine kickoff returns for 216 yards (24-yd. avg.) including a coffin-nailing 96-yarder for a TD in the Hatchet game he dominated with 184 rushing yards and two rushing TDs.
     For the other Jelich Twin, Connor (5-11, 202), it’s both different and the same. In middle school, he ran fullback with his brother at quarterback. Now he’s anchoring the offensive line, where he began his high school career. As a sophomore, Connor played in the backfield through a  injury-plagued season, before moving back to line as a junior to solidify what became a very productive run blocking unit.
    “I don’t mind the line,” said Connor, a Class AA All-State Special Honorable Mention pick in 2013. “It’s easier, less complicated.”
    The 2014 Red Devils will start no less than four seniors in the trenches with the lone underclassman at center in sophomore Corey Wratchford, who started all 12 games in 2013 and came through his rookie baptism under fire with flying colors.
    Defensively the Jelichs combine with fellow senior Matt Peery to form one of the most dynamic Red Devil linebacking trios ever. And that’s nothing to wink at in a program noted for producing outstanding, record setting linebackers.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’ve got a good defense,” said Rhys.
    “Our front nine is pretty good,” added Connor. “We just need to shore up our safeties. Losing (Jon) Crow (season-ending broken leg) set us back a little, but we have four/five guys competing for the two safety spots. We’ll get that taken care of and be good to go.”
    As for personal goals for his senior season, Rhys said, “I’d like to make All-State and help the team go as far as we can in the playoffs.”
    Ditto for Connor who will contend for postseason honors at both offensive line and middle linebacker, where he racked up 90 tackles, four sacks, three tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup in 2013.
    Rhys Jelich totaled 70 tackles with two interceptions (TD), four pass breakups and a fumble recovery last season.
    Of the upcoming season games, Connor said Pt. Pleasant (three straight losses), St. Marys, and Williamstown (two straight losses) are games circled on his personal calendar as key.
    Both brothers say their excited about the 100 years celebration that will punctuate their season season.
    Connor is seeking an appointment to either the Naval Academy or Coast Guard Academy.
    “If you get in, you have to play a sports,” said Connor. “I’ll try for football, but I may try rugby. It’s similar to football.”
    Rhys  is looking to play at the next level and already holds an offer from West Virginia Wesleyan.
    Both plan to play baseball in the spring.
    Both Jelichs say they may (or may not) miss the summer workouts personally developed for them by their father, former Red Devil and WVU Mountaineer standout Joe Jelich. Yet they readily admit those workouts have helped make them the players they are.
    “Our parents have always supported us,” said Rhys. “Dad talks to us after every game about how we did.”
    “When it’s over, we’ll miss that,” added Connor.
     

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