MASSILLON - Most coaches will tell you the best thing about being 4-0 is the chance to go 5-0.
For his club to seize that opportunity in Massillon, Reno Saccoccia predicts it will need to play a "perfect game."
Big Red and the Tigers, 3-1, will do battle for the 46th time Friday. The Stark Countians hold a commanding 38-5-2 lead in the overall series. However, since the rivalry was restored in 2009, the Red is up 2-1. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. inside Paul Brown Stadium.
"We have to play a perfect game on every snap," Saccoccia said. "We can't let down for a minute. We need to be solid on offense, defense and special teams.
"On offense, we're not going to score every time we get the ball, but we can't be three downs and punt either. We need to get some first downs and maintain or gain field position. Defensively, we can't give up big plays. They are a big play team. Very seldom are they in third down and anything and they're deep."
The Tigers own victories over Akron Butchel (52-21), Maumee (34-12) and Massillon Perry (41-21). The loss came at the hands of Canton Glen Oak (26-24). Massillon was down 20-3 in that contest after three quarters but rallied for three fourth quarter scores to make it close.
"Glen Oak had them down to the point where people leaving the stadium," Saccoccia noted. "They came within a minute of winning the game. So we know we can't have any letdowns."
Liberty at Weir
WEIRTON - After three straight losses to open the season, the Weir High Red Riders thought they may have a chance to pick up that elusive first win for 2012 last week when they journeyed to Grafton, which had lost two of three games themselves.
That wasn't to be as the Riders came home licking the wounds from a 27-6 loss, but they were in the game into the third period finding themselves behind by only 13-6.
The Red Riders get a second chance this week. Facing another Class AA school that also has not won yet this year, Liberty Harrison. The Mountaineers invade the new Jimmy Carey Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday evening.
"I like our chances," said head coach, Tony Filberto, about the Mountaineers. "We see some things where we might be able to make that first win happen."
Filberto says he continues to see improvement in his Red Riders, especially last week on defense.
"We had some trouble offensively because both of our starting backs were out with injuries. We had three freshmen starting on offense last week," Filberto explained. "We just couldn't get our running game going and couldn't get the pressure off of (William) Larch's back. He still got the bulk of our yardage, but his numbers were down."
Larch, who was the leading rusher among players in all 11 schools covered by the Herald-Star/Daily Times after three games, but because he was held under 100 yards rushing for the first time this season he dropped behind Maurtice Hython of Harrison Central, who has 691 yards rushing. The Grafton defense penned Larch in and limited the sophomore quarterback to just 56 yards on the ground.
St. Clairsville at Harrison Central
CADIZ - Whether it's playoff points, OVAC and Buckeye 8 standings implications, perfect records or even a "Coal Bucket," it'll be on the line when St. Clairsville and Harrison Central clash Friday night.
"We just keep playing undefeated teams, which keeps the kids excited, but makes the coaches a nervous wreck," laughed Red Devils head coach Brett McLean. "You can't come into any game in (the Buckeye 8) sleepy or not ready to go.
"Every week is a new mountain to climb, per se and this week is a real test."
The Red Devils, who are ranked sixth in the state's Division IV AP poll and on top of the Region 15 computer rankings, are coming off a 48-6 victory against then-unblemished Indian Creek and have yet to be really challenged since the first half against Wheeling Park in the opener.
"They're really, really good," said Harrison Central head coach Justin Kropka. "I've been looking at their film since Saturday, and I am still trying to find a chink in their armour."
The Huskies, who are ranked 13th in the Division IV AP Poll and third in the computer rankings, are coming off a cherished victory against Martins Ferry.
Madonna at Cameron
CAMERON - It has been a while since Cameron has beaten Madonna, but that doesn't mean that the Blue Dons are taking the Dragons lightly, not this year anyway. The Blue Dons travel to Cameron for a 7:30 p.m. start Friday.
"They sort of mirror us in a lot of ways," said Madonna (2-1) coach, Doug Taylor. "They have scored a lot of points despite losing two games and they have come back from big halftime deficits in both of their wins. Like Fort Frye last week, we have to take care of business because they can score a lot of points."
The tough Madonna defense was able to contain the Fort Frye Cadets last week allowing just one touchdown. The Cadets had averaged about 40 points a game prior to that. Cameron is averaging more than 29 points a game.
"We take a lot of pride in our defense," Taylor said "We spend a lot of time working on defense. Our offense gets a lot of publicity, but we work hard on defense and even our special teams contribute greatly to our offensive production."
Taylor pointed out that Cameron veteran coach, Jim Rogers, has a lot of weapons in his arsenal this year starting with sophomore quarterback, Logan Routt (6-8, 180).
"They probably pass the ball 60 percent of the time and that tall quarterback is one of the reasons why," Taylor added. "We have to pressure him because with that height it gives him a huge advantage at finding receivers especially if he has a lot of time back there."
Valley at Toronto
TORONTO - As with the halfway point of the season approaches, the Toronto Red Knights are still looking for that elusive first win. Things can easily turn around for head coach Eric Meek and the Red Knights as they showed over the previous two seasons. They're hoping they turn around this week against Valley, Friday at 7 p.m. at Clarke Hinkle Field.
"We're getting into late September and we haven't tasted the thrill of victory yet," said Meek. "It would be nice to do that this week.
"We've started slow in the past and turned it around. We won four of our last six two years ago and five of our last six a year ago so there is hope.
"The key is to improve at the end of the season.
"If we can improve as the year goes on that is all I can ask as a coach."
One thing Meek has said since preseason was that his Division VI squad needed to avoid the injury bug as much as possible to give his young team a chance to gain experience. Though the Red Knights came out of last week's 49-7 loss to Central banged up it still looks like they are at close to full strength.
"The only one I'm thinking will be out is Kyle White with a concussion," said Meek. "I'm hoping everyone else will be ready to go.
"Tyler Miller is also out, and he's been out for a few weeks. We're hoping to dress 28 guys this week for Friday. That would give us 28 of 30 kids suited up this week."
Central at Oak Glen
NEW MANCHESTER - Things are a little different in the Oak Glen football camp than they were a couple of weeks ago. The Golden Bears are preparing this week for the aerial invasion of Steubenville Catholic Central and also looking forward to the annual homecoming celebration at the new football field on the Oak Glen campus. Game time Friday is 7 p.m.
"Our goal is to come out of the first half with a winning record," Central head coach Steve Daley said. "Both teams are 2-2 and one team fortunately is going to and unfortunately, someone is not. That's our focus right now and what our preparation needs to be this week."
First-year Oak Glen head coach Ian Whittington admits his Golden Bears (2-2), smarting from its second straight loss, will have its hands full containing the vaunted Crusader passing attack.
Central quarterback, Brenton Colabella, already has thrown for more than 1,000 yards in just four games, two wins and two losses. As a sophomore last year, Colabella passed for 1,941 yards and 18 touchdowns.
He already has 14 touchdown passes this season and leads the Ohio Valley quarterbacks with 1,168 yards completing 69 of 110 passes.
"They are a skilled football team and bring a heck of an aerial show," Whittington said. "They get a lot of yardage and score a lot of points.
"Colabella is the real deal. He's the best quarterback in the valley. I remember he passed for over 300 yards and three or four touchdowns against us last year, but we managed to win the game. I recall that we sacked him 11 or 12 times last year, which is an Oak Glen defensive record. We'll have to do that again this year if we expect to win."
Edison at Buckeye Local
YORKVILLE - Two Buckeye 8 teams coming off Week 4 losses are set to meet Friday with the Edison Wildcats traveling to Buckeye Local for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The 2-2 Panthers come into Week 5 looking to get above .500 for the first time this season and kickstart some momentum heading into the second half of the season.
"It's important for us to pick up a win this week and be above .500 at the midway point," said Buckeye Local head coach Phil Pest. "We have Martins Ferry in front of us the following week so a win this week would give us some momentum. We play at home and we play very well at home so it is definitely important for us to pick up a win this week."
The Wildcats (1-3) are looking to move away from a loss that felt strongly self-inflicted last week against Union Local.
"We hurt ourselves more than we helped ourselves last week," said McKenzie. "First of all I don't want to discredit Union Local because the fact is they played hard and didn't quit.
"We hurt ourselves with 12 penalties for 129 yards to their three penalties for 25 yards. When you have six turnovers and a discrepency in penalties like that it's going to be hard to beat anybody."
Wheeling Park at Brooke
WELLSBURG - Without a doubt, Brooke and Wheeling Park have travelled in some fast company during the first four weeks of the 2012 season.
That obviously has a lot to do with the Bruins 0-4 record while Patriots are 2-2 heading into the renewal of their longtime rivalry Friday night at Brooke Memorial Stadium.
Except for the hard-luck, 35-34 opening game loss to Parkersburg (2-2), Brooke has fallen to three straight still undefeated rivals, St. Clairsville, University and Steubenville. Park also was toppled by the Red Devils and the Hawks while their two victories came against West Virginia Class AA power Bridgeport and Brashear out of the Pittsburgh City League.
''We are 2-2 but it is not the end of the world,'' Patriots coach Chris Daugherty said. ''We had opportunites in both our losses to hang in there and possibly win those games if some things had gone our way.''
Brooke's first-year coach Sean Blumette actually came away from the 34-13 loss to Big Red feeling encouraged.
''The kids' focus and intensity was there last week,'' he said. ''Regardless of the score, Steubenville knew it had played a football game. Outside of us giving up some big plays, I thought we did very well. Hopefully we can build on that as we go through the rest of the season.''
Both coaches are anticipating a typical Wheeling Park-Brooke backyard battle similar to last year when Bryce Ingram sparked the Patriots into a comfortable early lead only to see Alec Buchmelter's passing arm nearly bring the Bruins all the way back in a 26-20 setback. The Bruins were knocking on the door for a possible game-winning TD and extra point before being turned away.