STEUBENVILLE - Year in and year out, Big Red's football team has the same goals: qualify for the Ohio playoffs and earn a first round game at home.
The computer ratings experts seem to agree Reno Saccoccia's club can achieve both with a victory over Akron Buchtel today at 7 p.m. at Harding Stadium.
Big Red moved to 7-2 thanks to its 68-13 victory over Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Steubenville stands fourth in the Region 11 standings. Drew Pasteur, one of those computer experts, predicts Big Red, provided it beats Buchtel, will stay in the four hole and host Zanesville Maysville during week 11.
REGULAR-SEASON FINALE — Steubenville’s Robert Hayden jumps over teammate Chris Starlipper earlier in the season. Big Red hosts Akron Buchtel tonight.
-- Ron Gardner
HOME FINALE — The Brooke football team, led by three-year starting quarterback Alec Buchmelter, will play its final home game tonight, hosting John Marshall.
-- Ron Gardner
The Griffins, coached by Ricky Powers, will bring a 4-5 mark to town. They started their annual brutal non-Akron City League schedule by falling on the road at Massillon, Lakewood St. Edward's and Solon. Powers' gridders then won three straight, beating Firestone, Garfield and East.
Ellet ended Buchtel's 26-game league winning streak thanks to a 20-19 victory in Week 7. The Griffins rebounded with a triumph over North before falling last week to Kenmore (27-7). For Kenmore, the win was its first over Buchtel in 22 years.
This will be the ninth all-time between Big Red and Buchtel. The Griffins won the first two (both played for the Division II championship) and the Red has captured sixth straight, including a 22-6 triumph in 2011.
"Our goal this week is to beat Buchtel, playing for any other reason right now is not the thing to do," Saccoccia said when asked the playoff chase. "The main reason why we have this week is compete the best we can to defeat Buchtel. If we do that, everything else will fall in place. If we don't win, then we'll have to depend on everyone else. It's better if we depend on ourselves."
John Marshall at
Brooke, 7 p.m.
WELLSBURG - When Sean Blumette took the job at Brooke, the one thing he figured he'd be able to count on was having a veteran duo at quarterback and running back in seniors Alec Buchmelter and Raleigh Mason.
It lasted three plays before Mason was injured in the opener against Parkersburg.
Mason, described as a workout freak like few others by his coach, returned last week against Weir and rushed 11 times for 101 yards and a score.
But Buchmelter wasn't with him. The QB had re-injured a hamstring and was ruled out against the Red Riders, with Aaron Walker filling in and completing 6 of 7 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown.
"We are really looking forward to having our offense back at full strength for the first time all year,'' Blumette said of tonight's contest.
John Marshall coach Rick Goodrich is not.
"They're better than their record indicates,'' Goodrich said of the Bruins. "Their schedule is pretty formidable. They're not your typical 2-6 football team. And Mason's back. He's just solid. Who knows what their record would be if he was at full strength?''
That's the big news as Brooke prepares to play host to a John Marshall team that similarly has two victories, something almost unheard of in this rivalry this late in a season.
"We're playing for pride and a little bit of respect,'' Blumette said. "We've got to be ready to take their best shot.''
Catholic Central at Magnolia, 7:30 p.m.
NEW MARTINSVILLE - Steve Daley sees tonight's tough road trip to Magnolia as a chance for his Catholic Central football team to make a statement.
After watching the film of last week's heart-breaking 21-20 loss to Madonna, Daley told his Crusaders "your character as a team will be exemplified by what you do this week."
"You see other teams go through a tough loss and they don't bounce back," Daley explained. "We want our kids to try and make a statement by this next game. We want them to show the type of team they are and the type of athletes and kids they are. We want to put forth our best effort this week."
Central and Magnolia will meet for the third time. The first two games, both won by the Crusaders, were played in the 1940s. Daley's gridders are 6-3 (the three defeats coming by a total of six points).
Mark Batton's Blue Eagles dropped their opener to Linsly (21-20) before reeling off seven straight wins.
Both teams are in the hunt for the post season. Central stands eighth in Region 21 of Ohio's Division VI. Magnolia is among the leaders in West Virginia's Class A ranks.
"They're a very good football team," Daley noted. "From what we've seen on film and in person, they're solid, very solid. They're good up front offensively and their running backs are quick and run hard.
"(Stephen) Rogalski is a super athlete who can flat out fly. They give you a lot of looks formation wise that you have to worry about. Defensively we have to get lined up correctly against their various looks and that just compounds the situation."
Buckeye Local at Harrison Central, 7:30 p.m.
CADIZ -When Harrison Central and Buckeye Local get together there's no added incentive required.
But, there's plenty of extras on the line outside of just borderline bragging rights when the two meet each other tonight.
On top of the VALES Trophy, which is in its second year, the Huskies (6-3) need a win over the Panthers if they wish to extend their season into Week 11 for just the second time in school history.
"You really can't focus on anything except winning this game," said Huskies' head coach Justin Kropka. "It's so important for our seniors to go out with a win in their final regular season game."
On top of all the above, the Panthers have never lost to the Huskies in their four previous meetings, which doesn't sit too well with the folks of Harrison County.
"We've never beaten them; we've never had the VALES Trophy, so a lot of firsts can happen if we take care of business Friday night," Kropka said. "We're really just focused on Buckeye Local."
The Panthers have been mathematically eliminated from the playoff chase at 4-5. Rookie head coach Phil Pest is looking to send his senior class out with a victory, retain VALES and finish with a .500 record.
"It's been an interesting, but good year," Pest said. "We'd love to finish the season at .500 and historically, we've played Harrison Central very well in very good games that have come down to the last few plays the last couple of meetings.
"This is it for our seniors, and it'll be important to them and we're going to come looking to win."
Weir at East Liverpool, 7:30 p.m.
EAST LIVERPOOL - Beset with numerous injuries and defections, it has been a long season for the Weir High football team. With the end in sight, the Red Riders will invade Patterson Field to face the 3-6 Potters tonight, seeking that elusive first win of 2012.
Despite losing all of their games thus far, the Red Riders are practicing hard and playing hard, according to head coach, Tony Filberto.
"The morale is great. Because of the injuries, we are forced to play with a lot of youth and immaturity, but the enthusiasm remains and that pleases me and the kids should be proud of that," Filberto said. "East Liverpool has won two in a row and are a pretty good football team.
"East Liverpool has size and speed and we are small and young, but we'll put in a couple of plays and if we can play our 'A' game, who knows what is going to happen?"
The Red Riders were plagued with turnovers in a 62-12 loss at Brooke last week. The Riders turned the ball over on the first four possessions and got behind early. By halftime, the Bruins held a 43-0 advantage. The Red Riders finished with 10 fumbles losing half of them.
"Hopefully we can get our confidence back this week and get over those turnovers," Filberto said.
Meanwhile the Potters, under second-year coach, Rick Prescott, seemingly have turned things around a little bit. After going 1-9 in his first season a year ago, the Potters have three wins thus far including back-to-back victories over Oak Glen by 33-13 and Cleveland East Tech by 42-6.