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Crusaders prepare for run-first Columbiana

September 6, 2012
By ED LOOMAN - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - Another week - another offense to prepare for defensively. So it goes for the Catholic Central football team.

The Crusaders faced Bellaire and its pass-happy spread attack open the season. Last week, the Frontier Cougars brought their ground-oriented game to town. On Saturday, Steve Daley's club will entertain the Columbiana Clippers, who run the triple option.

Kickoff for the contest, the fourth all time between the schools (Columbiana holds a 2-1 series lead) is set for 7 p.m. at Harding Stadium. Both teams are 1-1.

"They're a real solid team," Daley said of the Clippers. "Usually Columbiana is big up front. They have decent size this year but they have quickness all over the place. We need to contain that speed."

Daley was particularly impressed with the speed of running back Britton Steiginga (5-6, 145). The senior ran for 242 yards on just 11 carries and scored three times in the 37-33 Week 1 loss to rival Crestview. He did not play in last week's 39-6 romp over East Palestine.

"He can flat out fly," Daley noted. "He missed the East Palestine game but watching him against Crestview, he can really motor."

Fact Box

Catholic Central

(games at 7 p.m. unless noted)

42 Bellaire 44

23 Frontier 8

Sept. 8 Columbiana

Sept. 14 at Toronto

Sept. 21 at Oak Glen

Sept. 29 Conotton Valley

Oct. 6 Barnesville

Oct. 12 at Weir High

Oct. 20 Madonna

Oct. 26 at Magnolia, 7:30 p.m.

As a junior, Steiginga ran for 535 yards and caught 15 passes for another 153.

The Crusader boss pointed out there are some similarities between the Frontier Wing-T and the Columbiana triple option.

"You have to be gap sound against both," he said. "You also have to play assignment football. We will need to be disciplined on defense"

Nate Huk directs the Columbiana offense. The senior quarterback ran for one score and threw for another against East Palestine.

"He does a nice job of managing the game," Daley observed. "Coach (Bob) Spaite is into his triple option offense and he just seems to turn our quarterback after quarterback up there. He finds a kid that fits into his system, tutors him and gets him to deliver what he needs out of the offense."

Brandon Hacker and John Cramer join Huk and Steiginga in the backfield. Top receiving threats are R.J. Rankin, Jake Dejong and Garret Patrick.

The offensive line, considered to be one of the strengths for the Clippers, is anchored by center Hayden Sneltzer (5-10, 210). Jacob Theil, Steve Kurilla and Justin Hoffman also are key contributors up front.

Columbiana's offense, according to Daley, is one that goes "for three yards, four yards then all of a sudden, boom, they pop one for 50."

"That's one of the things we have to be concerned about, stopping the big play."

Offensively, Daley would like to see his Crusaders travel the "quick strike" route.

"They play ball control and we want to be able to dictate some things in that regard," he said. "I'm not sure what their comfort level is throwing the ball. So we hope we can get out to a lead, maintain that lead and possibly get them into a situation where they are playing a little left-handed."

Daley's club definitely passed the quick strike test against Frontier, scoring on three of its four possessions in the rain-shortened victory.

Quarterback Brenton Colabella connected on 10 of 13 attempts for 193 yards and three scores. He hit senior Kyle Laukert for two and junior Ryan Fletcher for the other. In two games, the junior had thrown for 453 yards, tops in the Daily Times/Herald Star coverage area.

Senior Zach Herrington tops all area receivers with nine grabs for 196 yards. Fletcher is tied for fourth with five catches.

Spaite noted during summer sessions that his defensive backs are green.

"We're inexperienced in our linebackers and secondary," he said. "That's really obvious right now."

After two weeks, Daley indicated his Crusaders are "where we want to be."

"I would have rather seen last week's game go a little longer (the Crusaders and the Cougars played a little more than 15 minutes) just to get the kids the playing time. We could have used that time iron some things out and see more consistency.

"On the other end of the spectrum, they are well rested. So there were a few positives."