WEIRTON -The Madonna football team is feeling pretty good after coming off a thrilling come from behind 21-20 win over a ranked Steubenville Catholic Central team, but coach Doug Taylor is cautioning his troops to stay focused.
The win boosted the Blue Dons to No. 5 in the West Virginia Class A rankings and assured them of a playoff spot. So, Madonna has every right to feel good about what they are doing.
However, Taylor's concern is that this week's opponent, Toronto, enters Jimmy Carey Stadium tonight with a 3-6 record and no pressure so they could be free to throw everything at the Blue Dons except the kitchen sink.
"We need to be ready to stop their running game," said Toronto head coach Eric Meek. "They have so many weapons and are so big up front. They are a physical team and use that size up front.
"They run the spread very well. It's going to be a challenge."
Madonna will honor the 1987 Blue Dons on the 25th anniversary of being the first state championship football team in the school's history. The ceremonies will occur prior to the 7 p.m. kickoff.
"We talked at practice about being flat after the type of win we had last week," Taylor said. "Not everything went right in that game last week so we talked about what went right and what went wrong. And we cautioned them about remaining focused and don't get caught up in Toronto's record. We have to continue to get better at the things we do."
Taylor said he also cautioned the Blue Dons about looking ahead. Madonna hosts currently undefeated and state ranked Clay-Battelle in the season finale on Nov. 3.
"We have goals, team goals, and we can't get caught up looking ahead," Taylor continued. "We have to stay focused on the task at hand, which is Toronto. They are a team that could be over .500 if a few things had gone their way in a couple of their losses. They could easily be 5-4.
"Toronto had a fourth quarter lead erased late in the game with Connotton Valley and lost by three or four points and they got upset by Bridgeport. Coach (Eric) Meek is a friend of mine. I coached on his staff at Weir High so I know he we bring a tough football team at us and since they have nothing to lose he will throw everything at us. They will be ready.
"We have to prepare for them to do things they haven't done this season like halfback passes, reverses and flea flickers."
Edison at Indian Creek, 7 p.m.
WINTERSVILLE -It's Rivalry Week in the Buckeye 8, and that means Indian Creek and Edison renew their battle for the Traveling Trophy.
As with most rivalries records go out the window, and it is no different for the Wildcats (2-7) and the Redskins (8-1), as both teams look to end their season at the other's expense tonight.
"You always want to beat your rival whether you're 9-0 or 0-9," said Edison head coach Mike McKenzie. "Getting a win in this game is nice no matter what the situation coming in is."
There is an added situation for the Redskins as they sit fifth in the Ohio Division III Region 11 rankings, and are in need of a win to help secure a spot in the postseason. Six spots are clinched in the region with Indian Creek and No. 7 Granville looking to remain in the top eight while No. 9 Poland Seminary, No. 11 Philo, and No. 17 Cardinal Mooney all remain in the hunt.
Even with that Redskins head coach Andrew Connor and company are focused on more immediate issues.
"I think the biggest thing, and I told them this myself, is the implications are we need to enjoy being a team one last time," he said. "No one knows what the weekend holds. This group has been together since November of last year.
"The important thing is that we are playing for each other this Saturday, not the playoffs or anything else. Our motivation is this could be it. We have a really special group of kids.
"Enjoy one last game together, especially one last time at Kettlewell."
In order to enjoy this season's final game at Kettlewell Memorial Stadium, the Redskins will have to deal with an Edison team that has showed marked improvement over the past few weeks, including a 35-22 win at Martins Ferry and 26-20 loss to Bellaire where they were just one-yard short of tying the game as time expired.
"We told them they've gotten much, much better," said Connor. "They impressed us how with they played at Martins Ferry in the win, and how close they were against Bellaire. It would be crazy not to give them our best because if not we'll be in trouble."
First on the Wildcats list of musts if they are to pull the upset is to stop Indian Creek's playmaking quarterback Alex Young. Young has thrown for 771 yards and 10 scores this season while adding 326 yards and eight scores on the ground. He has also returned two punts, a kickoff, and an interception for scores and kicked a pair of field goals.
"Speed is the number one thing," said McKenzie of what makes Young dangerous. "He's one of the fastest kids we've seen all year. What makes him dangerous too is the ball is in his hands every play.
"We've seen where he's been able to make big plays out of broken plays so we have to stay alert. He has great ball skills as well. Everyone saw the pick against Harrison Central.
"He's a heady player, he knows what's going on on the field, and he sees a lot out there on the field."
Point Pleasant at Oak Glen, 1:30 p.m.
NEW MANCHESTER -The Oak Glen football team has a couple of reasons to be anxious today after its mandatory bye week.
The Golden Bears draw a difficult assignment this week taking on Point Pleasant, the No. 11 Class AAA team in West Virginia with a 6-2 record.
Oak Glen hasn't blocked and tackled anyone but themselves during two weeks of practice.
"We worked on the mental aspect during our two weeks off especially with things like eliminating dumb penalties," said first-year Golden Bear coach, Ian Whittington. "We also worked on our run game. We had a pretty good run game early in the season, but we kind of got away from it lately."
The Bears have lost four of the last six games and don't appear to be a candidate for the tournament this year. However, Oak Glen is not mathematically eliminated.
Whittington said some of his players that were nursing nagging injuries along with bumps and bruises had an opportunity to heal. One of his starters, Josh Weltner, who damaged a knee early in the season, is practicing and should be ready to go at wide receiver and corner back.
He is the Oak Glen kicker and has been able to do those duties the past three games, but Saturday will be is first game back playing his offensive and defensive positions.
The other reason for anxiety on the part of the Golden Bears is that they will be seeking revenge from the 66-40 licking the Big Blacks put on the Golden Bears in the 2011 Class AA quarterfinals of the playoffs.
"That game was close till the fourth quarter and we had several chances to win it, so the guys who played last year in that game are looking forward to getting revenge," Whittington explained.
The Big Blacks have increased enrollment so they moved up to Class AAA this year, but they continue to win. With a 6-2 record, Point Pleasant sits in the No. 11 spot of the state AAA rankings.