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Dons carrying the local torch

Comis leads club with 1,359 yards rushing and 1,166 passing

November 12, 2012
By ED LOOMAN - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

The area's hopes for a state championship now rest squarely on the shoulders of the Madonna football team.

The Blue Dons, 10-1, began their quest for a West Virginia Class A title with a 58-12 first- round victory over Tug Valley Saturday. Next up for Madonna, winners of nine straight, is a Friday date with fifth-seeded St. Marys. Kickoff at Jimmy Carey Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.

St. Marys whipped No. 12 Wirt County 40-14 to earn its shot at Madonna. The Blue Devils also are 10-1, their only loss coming to Wirt County (35-22) in Week 2. During the regular season, St. Marys beat Ritchie County, Parkersburg Catholic, Tyler Consolidated, Williamstown, Calhoun, Gilmer County, South Harrison, Ravenswood and Doddridge County.

Article Photos

READY FOR PLAYOFF ACTION -- Ross Comis and his Weirton Madonna teammates will continue their playoff run Friday night.
-- Mike Mathison

The winner of Friday's battle will advance to meet the survivor of the Tucker County (the No. 1 seed) and eighth-seeded Clay-Battelle. Greenbrier West will face Wahama and East Hardy will visit Magnolia in the other quarterfinal matches.

The Blue Devils, based in Pleasants County, feature a ground-oriented offense that averages 41 points a game. St. Marys nets nearly 300 yards per outing via its rushing attack. The passing game contributes 75 stripes per game.

Quarterback Andrew Cosper has thrown for 711 yards and run for 408 more. David Gray has 916 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Noah Spitzer has contributed 897 on the ground and 11 scores.

Fact Box

High School football playoffs

Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Division II

Home Team Listed First

Region 5

4 Chardon (10-2) vs. 3 Aurora (11-1) at Twinsburg Tiger Stadium

Region 6

4 Avon (11-1) vs. 2 Toledo Central Catholic (11-1) at Clyde Robert Bishop Jr. Stadium

Region 7

4 New Albany (10-2) vs. 3 Columbus Marion-Franklin (11-1) at Gahanna Lincoln Stadium

Region 8

1 Cincinnati Turpin (12-0) vs. 6 Trotwood-Madison (10-2) at Kings Stadium

Division II State Semifinals, Fri., Nov. 23: Region 5 vs. Region 6 Region 7 vs. Region 8

Division II State Championship: Friday, Nov. 30, 7 p.m., Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium

Division IV

Home Team Listed First

Region 13

1 Brookfield (12-0) vs. 2 Creston Norwayne (12-0) at Stow Ron Marhofer Auto Family Field

Region 14

1 Columbus Bishop Hartley (12-0) vs. 2 Ottawa-Glandorf (12-0) at Piqua Alexander Stadium-Purk Field

Region 15

1 St. Clairsville (12-0) vs. 3 Johnstown-Monroe (10-2) at Zanesville Sulsberger Stadium

Region 16

1 Clarksville Clinton-Massie (12-0) vs. 7 West Milton Milton-Union (10-2) at Centerville Stadium

Division IV State Semifinals, Fri., Nov. 23: Region 13 vs. Region 15 Region 14 vs. Region 16

Division IV State Championship: Friday, Nov. 30, 3 p.m., Canton Fawcett Stadium

Division VI

Home Team Listed First

Region 21

1 Mogadore (12-0) vs. 6 Youngstown Christian (9-2) at Ravenna Gilcrest Field

Region 22

1 McComb (12-0) vs. 6 Delphos St. John's (8-4) at Findlay Donnell Stadium

Region 23

1 Danville (11-1) vs. 2 Newark Catholic (10-2) at Westerville Central Warhawk Field

Region 24

4 St. Henry (9-3) vs. 3 Maria Stein Marion Local (10-2) at Wapakoneta Harmon Field

Division VI State Semifinals, Fri., Nov. 23: Region 21 vs. Region 23 Region 22 vs. Region 24

Division VI State Championship: Friday, Nov. 30, 11 a.m., Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium

Saturday, 7 p.m. (unless noted)

Division I

Home Team Listed First

Region 1

4 Mentor (11-1) vs. 2 Cleveland St. Ignatius (11-1) at Parma Byers Field

Region 2

1 Massillon Washington (11-1) vs. 2 Toledo Whitmer (12-0) at Mansfield Arlin Field

Region 3

4 Pickerington North (11-1) vs. 7 Hilliard Davidson (10-2) at Ohio Wesleyan University Selby Stadium

Region 4

1 Cincinnati Colerain (12-0) vs. 3 Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (9-3) at University of Cincinnati Nippert Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

Division I State Semifinals, Sat., Nov. 24: Region 1 vs. Region 2 Region 3 vs. Region 4

Division I State Championship: Saturday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m., Canton Fawcett Stadium

Division III

Home Team Listed First

Region 9

1 Chagrin Falls (11-1) vs. 6 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (10-2) at Solon Stewart Field

Region 10

1 Napoleon (11-0-1) vs. 2 Bellevue (11-1) at Findlay Donnell Stadium

Region 11

4 Dover (10-2) vs. 2 Millersburg West Holmes (11-1) at Canton Fawcett Stadium

Region 12

1 Dayton Thurgood Marshall (11-1) vs. 3 The Plains Athens (11-1) at Reynoldsburg Raider Stadium

Division III State Semifinals, Sat., Nov. 24: Region 9 vs. Region 11 Region 10 vs. Region 12

Division III State Championship: Saturday, Dec. 1, 11 a.m., Canton Fawcett Stadium

Division V

Home Team Listed First

Region 17

1 Kirtland (12-0) vs. 7 Youngstown Ursuline (8-4) at Aurora Veterans Stadium

Region 18

4 Findlay Liberty-Benton (11-1) vs. 7 Hamler Patrick Henry (10-2) at Lima Stadium

Region 19

1 Lucasville Valley (12-0) vs. 6 Baltimore Liberty Union (10-2) at Nelsonville Boston Field

Region 20

1 Coldwater (12-0) vs. 3 Covington (12-0) at Dayton Welcome Stadium

Division V State Semifinals, Sat., Nov. 24: Region 17 vs. Region 19 Region 18 vs. Region 20

Division V State Championship: Saturday, Dec. 1, 3 p.m., Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium


Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Class AAA

8 Spring Valley at 1 Cabell-Midland

5 Morgantown at 4 Huntington

10 Musselman at 2 Martinsburg

11 Lewis County at 3 George Washington

Class AA

9 Nicholas County at 1 Wayne

5 Bluefield at 4 Robert C. Byrd

6 Frankfort at 3 Bridgeport

Class A

5 St. Marys at 4 Madonna


Class AA

7 Scott at 2 Keyser, 1:30 p.m.

Class A

8 Clay-Battelle at Tucker County, 1:30 p.m.

7 East Hardy at 2 Madnolia, 7:30 p.m.

6 Greenbrier West vs. 3 Wahama at Point Pleasant, 1:30 p.m.

Johnny Riggs leads the team with 16 catches. Gray collected 130 stripes in the win over Wirt County and Spitzer added 105 on 18 trips.

As a team, St. Marys collected 296 yards, all but 37 on the ground.

The defense limited Wirt County to just 102, 129 passing but minus-27 rushing.

The first time the teams played, back in August, St. Marys led 22-7 after three quarters but Wirt rallied with a 28-0 fourth period to triumph 35-22.

Madonna and St. Marys last met in the 2008 semifinals, a 27-6 Blue Dons win. Madonna lost in the state title game that year, but came back the next season to dominate any and all in winning the Class A championship.

As generally has been the case in 2012, junior quarterback Ross Comis led the Blue Dons in the win over Tug Valley. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns. Comis has thrown for 1,166 and 15 scores with just four interceptions. The Madonna signal caller has completed 64 percent of his attempts.

On the ground, Comis added 82 yards and another touchdown. His rushing line for the season reads like this: 149 carries, 1,359 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The Blue Dons are averaging 380 yards a game and 42 points. Defensively, Madonna surrenders 201 yards an outing and just 10 points.

Madonna's defense held Tug Valley to two touchdowns, the second being the only second-half six-pointer it has given up since a Week 2 loss at Wheeling Central.

The Blue Dons held Steubenville Catholic Central to 67 yards on 24 plays in a Week 9 come-from-behind 21-20 victory at Harding Stadium.

"It was a huge half for us," junior linebacker Travis Brown admitted. "They didn't get many yards, at all, and it gave our offense an opportunity to come back and win the game."

That win also allowed Madonna a home game in the second round of the playoffs.

Heading into the Region 11 semifinal bout with West Holmes, Big Red's Reno Saccoccia noted the Knights were one of the strongest second round foes his teams have faced. Turns out the veteran coach was spot on.

The Knights combined a solid offense with a stingy defense to eliminate Big Red 35-7. West Holmes advances to face its first non-Jefferson County opponent, Dover, in the regional finals.

For the second straight week, the Knights rallied from an early deficit to win by 28. Against Indian Creek, West Holmes was down 7-0 before reeling off 35 unanswered points. On Saturday in New Philadelphia, Big Red jumped out to a 7-6 lead only to see the Holmes County squad run off 29 straight.

"They have tough kids and they are well coached," Saccoccia said following the contest. "Tonight, they played a great game."

Big Red dropped the 2012 curtain at 9-3. Saccoccia-coached clubs have qualified for the postseason 12 years in a row and 25 times overall (the fifth best showing in Ohio playoff history). Big Red now has a 47-22 all-time record in the tournament.

Senior Corey Stinson finished his Big Red career and his first as a starter by throwing for 164 yards and a touchdown. During the 12-game season, he threw for 1,357 stripes and 11 scores. He currently in the second ranked passer (Catholic Central's Brenton Colabella finished as the top quarterback) in The Herald Star/Daily Times coverage area.

Another senior, Matt Petrella, led the squad in receiving (37 catches for 498 yards and six scores). His reception total is third best in the area, trailing Central's Zack Herrington (52) and Kyle Laukert (39).

Senior Dashon Redman was Big Red's top rusher with 906 yards on 161 totes and nine scores. His total is third best in the area.

"Our kids had a great season," Saccoccia said. "They fought through adversity all year. It was just not our night."