STEUBENVILLE - Reno Saccoccia says the best cure available for what ails his football team after a tough road loss is to "get back on the field."
Big Red will do exactly that Friday when it entertains Pittsburgh Westinghouse at Harding Stadium. Kickoff for the annual homecoming celebration is set for 7 p.m.
"This team is absolutely ready to move forward," Saccoccia said. "The kids we have here want nothing more than to get back on the field, get into another big game and improve what we did last Friday."
Big Red, coming off a 24-7 loss to Massillon, stands at 4-1. The Bulldogs, who compete in the Pittsburgh City League, are 0-4. Friday's meeting will be the first between the schools.
The Tigers, thanks to several big plays, jumped on Big Red for 21 points during the first nine minutes last week. After that, Saccoccia's club settled in and outscored Massillon 7-3 the rest of the way.
"I feel very comfortable with the attitude of our coaches and players," Saccoccia indicated. "We accept we got beat, we accept the sun came up the next day, we accept the fact that we have to work harder on the little things and we know we have to get off to better start the rest of the way.
"I was very happy with our defense and happy with the offense except for a few key situations. I should have never called that reverse pass and we had a fourth and two in their territory where we didn't block well at the point of attack. We had a couple of opportunities when it was 21-7 to make it 21-14 or 21-10. Had we scored points before the half, we may not have won but I would have a better taste coming out of the game."
Westinghouse, coached by Monte Robinson, will be visiting the Ohio Valley for the third time this season. The Bulldogs lost to both Buckeye Local (24-6) and Wheeling Central (37-20) earlier. Other defeats came against league rivals Allderdice and Brashear.
The Westinghouse offense is directed by sophomore quarterback Ronald Brown, who threw for more than 100 yards against Buckeye Local. Hassan Allen also sees time as a Bulldog signal caller. Dominic Fuller is one of his top targets and Rico Christian and Shakur Roberts are the top threats at running back.
"I appreciate the fact that the Westinghouse coach agreed to this game," Saccoccia added. "It's not an ideal game for us or them but I'm happy we are playing. I'm sure they will come here excited and ready to compete."
Big Red's offense showed true balance during the first half of the season, averaging 288 yards (154 on the ground and 134 through the air).
Quarterback Corey Stinson has completed 60 percent of his passes for 653 yards and five scores. Matt Petrella leads the team in receptions with 14. Evan Westlake has 11 and Cody Saltsman nine.
Dashon Redman paces the ground attack with 229 yards. Robert Hayden, who was injured early in the Massillon game, has 212 and Teshawn Luke 153.
Defensively, the Big Red is allowing 53 yards per outing on the ground and 160 passing. Opponents are averaging 16 points.
Big Red currently is ranked fifth in Region 11 of Division III. One of Saccoccia's goals each season is to finish high enough in the computer ratings to earn a first round game at home.
"That's a realistic goal we set every year," he pointed out. "We want to finish high enough to secure a home then win three games to win the region."
To achieve that goal, Saccoccia realizes his gridders will near to clear three major hurdles during the second half.
"The key to our season right now centers around three games in the second half (Youngstown Ursuline, Morgantown and Akron Butchel)," he said. "We need to keep improving and get ready for the challenges that lie ahead."
Ursuline will travel to Steubenville during Week 7 then Big Red has a date in Morgantown the following Friday. Butchel is the Week 10 foe.