STEUBENVILLE - Even though its only Week 2 of the high school football season, there will a few "homecomings" at Harding Stadium Friday.
Big Red will test always-tough Cleveland Benedictine, coached by Ben Malbasa, whose family has roots in Jefferson County.
As Malbasa says on the school's website, "My father (Steve) played basketball and baseball at Big Red for Coach Watt and Coach Vacarro. My older cousin (Duke) played for Coach Saccoccia in two state championship games (1987 and 1988)."
"Some of my favorite childhood memories are those Friday night trips to Steubenville to visit my grandmother and watch Big Red football," he added. "I always thought that Big Red was the best-run high school football program in the state."
Malbasa, who was named the 17th coach in Benedictine football history on Dec. 17, 2012, pointed out "when I began my coaching career, I looked to Coach Saccoccia and began to emulate him as a model for the type of program that I would like to run and it would be the highest compliment if anyone ever watched a team that I coached and said it looked a little like one of Coach Saccoccia's Big Red teams."
The Bengals, who dropped a 34-6 verdict to Boardman in Week 1, hold a 2-1 lead in their series with Big Red.
Prior to the game, the Big Red Boosters Club will honor the coaches and senior players of the 1985 Steubenville team. Festivities will begin with dinner in the Harding Middle School.
The 1985 club was Saccoccia's third as Big Red's head coach. The team went 8-2 in the regular season (falling to Bellaire and Youngstown Rayen.)
In the playoffs, the squad nipped Wintersville in overtime and knocked out Canton Central Catholic before falling to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney.
What's a fumble:
When is a fumble really a fumble? Or when is a fumble not a fumble?
Those were two of many questions being asked following Central's heart-breaking 44-42 loss to Bellaire Saturday.
Midway through the second quarter, a Bellaire receiver grabbed a Spencer Badia pass and appeared to make a move with the football. The ball came loose and was recovered by the Crusaders. The officials, however, ruled the pass was incomplete. The Big Reds would use that break to score a touchdown.
Right after the half, the tables were turned. A Crusader receiver followed the lead of his Bellaire counterpart, catching a pass, making a move, losing control. This time, the officials ruled it was a fumble. One play later, the Big Reds scored.
Late in the third stanza, the fumble question surfaced again. This time, a Central ball carrier seemed to cough up the pigskin after hitting the ground.
The officiating crew, however, ruled otherwise, leading to yet another Bellaire score.
The rulings prompted Central's Steve Daley to say, "there were a couple of plays that could of have gone either way. The results of those plays really cost our kids in the end because they led to three scores."
You never know:
In the game of football, little things mean a lot and you never know when those little things can come back to haunt you. Here are a few cases in point from week one:
Brooke had 156 yards in penalties during its contest with Parkersburg on the new turf at Memorial Stadium. The Bruins fall by just a single point.
Edison had two touchdowns called back in its nine-point loss to Oak Glen.
Toronto had three first-half drives stall inside Wellsville's 20. The Red Knights trailed by just seven at the half before falling 42-13.
Preston Murray, the Oak Glen nose tackle, finished third last year as junior for the prestigious Hunt Award, emblematic of the best lineman in West Virginia.
"His motor goes at 100 miles per hour and he gives 100 percent all the time," Golden Bear coach Ian Whittington said of the 6-1, 265 pound Murray. "He's unblockable on defense. He's often double teamed and still produces."
Murray also can be described as a touchdown-maker, at least when he goes against the Edison Wildcats. In Thursday's 37-28 victory, Murray got his big paws on a screen pass and rumbled 25 yards to pay dirt.
It was the second- straight year he crossed the goal line in the OVAC Kickoff Classic contest against Edison.
He's now 2-0:
Senior Corey Stinson is now 2-0 as the starting quarterback for Big Red.
Stinson threw for 189 yards and ran for 32 more in Thursday's 28-8 victory over Washington, D.C. Woodrow Wilson.
As a junior, Stinson got the start against East Liverpool, stepping in when Marcus Prather was injured. In that 41-0 Big Red triumph, Stinson passed for a score and added another one on the ground.
Got a tie:
Edison running back Chris Graziani guaranteed himself at least a tie for the longest touchdown run of the year in Thursday's tough loss to Oak Glen.
The Wildcat raced 99 yards for a score earlier in the third quarter. He toted the pigskin 18 times for 138 stripes and two six-pointers. He also scored on a 31-yard fumble recovery.
Run and pass:
Several area quarterbacks showed during week one that they can run and throw.
Brooke's Alec Buchmelter passed for 316 yards and four scores while running for 104 and another six-pointer. Two of his touchdown passes went to 6-5 freshman Thomas Cole. Seven of his completions went to Heath Hildreth for 103 yards.
In the preseason, coach Sean Blumette called Cole's hands "some of the best I've ever seen. He's very physical."
Weir High's William Larch finished with 220 rushing yards and another 37 through the air. Bub Haddox of Oak Glen threw for 77 and ran for 151. Madonna's Ross Comis put together a total of 182 (108 running and 74 through the air).
Alex Young, making his first start at quarterback, finished with 46 yards rushing and 39 passing in Indian Creek's romp over Weir. He also returned a punt 80 yards for a score. As a team, the Redskins rolled to 442 total yards, 403 coming on the ground.
Back at the top:
As a junior, Harrison Central's Maurtice Hython ran for 1,496 yards and found the end zone 19 times, which was tops in the Daily Times/Herald Star coverage age.
Hython obviously hopes to top those statistics in 2012. In Friday's big win over Wheeling Central, he compiled 194 stripes on 24 trips and scored once.
His performance was number one among area running backs during opening weekend. Central's Doug Maslowski, playing his first year as a back, was second with 175 and a score. Now a senior, Maslowski served exclusively as the Crusader place kicker a year ago.
Madonna's Nick Ossman also had a huge opener, going for 129 yards and three touchdowns as the Blue Dons trounced Valley. Ossman also scored via a 65 yard punt return.
If Brenton Colabella hasn't cracked Central's all-time passing record, he has to be real close. The junior threw for 260 yards against Bellaire, completing 14 of 26 attempts (four of the completions went for scores).
Entering the season, Colabella had 2,962 yards through the air.
Once again, senior wide receiver Zack Herrington seems to be Colabella's favorite target. Herrington, who led the Daily Times/Herald Star coverage area in receptions a year ago, grabbed seven of the 14 for 154 stripes and a pair of scores.
220, Larch, Weir, touchdown; 194, Hython, Harrison Central, touchdown; 175, Maslowski, Central, touchdown; 151, Haddox, Oak Glen, two touchdowns; 138, Graziani, Edison, two touchdowns; 129, Ossman, Madonna, three touchdowns; 126, Tran Huynh, Indian Creek, two touchdowns; 110, Nolan Marcus, Edison, touchdown; 108, Comis, Madonna, two touchdowns; 104, Buchmelter, Brooke, touchdown
316, Buchmelter, Brooke, 18 of 34, four scores; 260, Colabella, Central, 14 of 26, three scores; 189, Stinson, Big Red, 11 of 23, two scores; 149, Blaze Glenn, Toronto, 11 of 22, score
7, Herrington, Central, 154, two touchdowns; 7, Hildreth, Brooke, 103, touchdown; 5, Clayton Flowers, Oak Glen, 49; 4, Matt Petrella, Big Red, 88, touchdown; 4, Joey Chadwick, Toronto, 64, touchdown; 4, Kyle White, Toronto, 54