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Crusaders turn the page, ready for Frontier

August 30, 2012
By ED LOOMAN - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - Two teams coming off totally different Week 1 experiences will square off Saturday at Harding Stadium.

Catholic Central, which dropped a heart-breaking 44-42 decision to Bellaire on the last play of the game, will host New Matamoras Frontier, which rallied for two second half touchdowns to nip Shenandoah 20-14. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

This will be the second meeting between the schools, Central rolling to a 48-0 victory back in 1980. The win against Shenandoah did snap a 10-game losing streak for the Cougars.

Steve Daley's Crusaders appeared to have things under control in their opener with the Big Reds, leading 42-10 midway through the third quarter. The Belmont County squad, however, reeled of 25 straight points to escape with the victory. The CCHS boss doesn't expect any hangover from the tough loss.

"The biggest thing with kids is they'll bounce back," he said. "We watched the film Monday and corrected some little things that we still need to get better at. We stressed that while watching the film.

"At the same time, we kept pointing out the better efforts and there were plenty of those. Once the film was over, that was it. We sealed the deal and turned the page. We can't dwell on that game, we have to move on to Frontier."

Daley noted the Cougars run a traditional Wing-T, meaning "they line it up and smash it as you."

"I think they threw the ball five times against Shenandoah," he added. "That's quite a contrast to what we saw against Bellaire. They have decent size up front and do what they do. We have to prepare for that.

"It will be a total change of game plans. We have to go from preparing for passing and keeping guys in front of us to focusing on filling gaps and stopping the running game."

Cole Farley (6-4, 205) and Austin Kimble (6-3, 270) man the tackle spots on the Frontier line. Takoda Boley (6-1, 220) and Kris Comstock (6-0, 235) start at guards for coach Todd Bradford, who is in his seventh season at Frontier. Tyler Hunt (6-1, 260) mans the center spot.

Frontier rallied for two second half touchdowns to down Shenandoah 20-14 in week one, snapping a 10-game losing streak. Austin Kimble returned an interception 15 yards for a score late in the third quarter to seal the deal for the Cougars.

Quarterback Jordan Jefferson directs the Wing-T attack. Taylor Merckle (6-1, 185) and Jared Howell (5-11, 180) are Frontier's primary ball carriers. Merckle and Quinton Humphrey both recorded rushing touchdowns in week one.

After reviewing the Bellaire film, Daley admitted what he saw was "definitely something to build on."

"There were times when we looked like the time we are capable of being this year," he said. "The problem was we have to do it for four quarters, we did it for three against Bellaire. Once you get into the fourth quarter, you have to be able to pick up first downs and keep the clock moving."

Earlier this month, Daley, in his second season as the Crusader boss, pointed out the need for his team to establish a running game. In week one, Central showed it is making progress in that department.

Senior Doug Maslowski, making his first varsity start at running back, ripped off 175 yards on 19 carries and sprinted 56 stripes for a touchdown. Sophomore Stone Romano added 36 more.

"Doug kicked for us last year but he did run the ball in junior varsity games so we saw some of things he is capable of doing," Daley noted. "He can fly when he is going in a straight line or going over hurdles. We worked during the summer on his ability to change directions. He has improved tremendously in that area.

"He's a big kid and he can move. I was happy for him and the rest of our kids. Doug did the things we are asking him to do as a running back, one being help open up our passing game."

Junior quarterback Brenton Colabella has his usual outstanding game against Bellaire. He passed for 260 yards and three scores. Daley noted Colabella's performance was enough to make him Central's all time-passing leader. He now has thrown for 3,222 yards through 21 games.

Senior receiver Zach Herrington, who led the Daily Times/Herald Star coverage area in receptions a season ago, was on the receiving end of seven Colabella completions, good for 154 stripes and a pair of scores.

Daley believes his team has progressed to the point where "we thing we are pretty competitive."

"Looking down our schedule, we feel fairly confident that we can play with anyone on it. If we continue to improve, we think we can be a pretty good team."

Come Saturday, Daley wants his offense to be as close to 50-50 as possible when it comes to running and passing.

"We want to take advantage of the opportunities provided," he pointed out. "We'll try to capitalize on whatever situation presents itself. We'll look to mix in the pass and run and hopefully have the same sort of success we had last week."