STEUBENVILLE - Big Red celebrated its 2012 season Sunday during the 72nd-annual football banquet.
The event, sponsored by the boosters club, was held in the Crimson Commons at the high school.
"It sure wasn't a typical season, but our players rose to the occasion and overcame each and every problem they faced" veteran coach Reno Saccoccia told the large crowd.
AWARD WINNERS — Several awards were handed out during the 72nd-annual Big Red football banquet Sunday. Award winners were, from the left, Charlie Keenan (Calvin Jones Award); Luke Smith (special teams); Corey Stinson (Dan Keenan Leadership Award); Luke McCourt (Dave Hindman Hustle Award); Dashon Redman (Abe Bryan/Punque Cartledge Award); Manard Reed (MVP); Matt Petrella (Doctors Press/Macedonia Award); and Tajuan Lawson (Abe Bryan/Punque Cartledge Award and special teams).
-- Ed Looman
"People on the outside talk about character but they don't know character from a jelly bean. I love being part of Big Red football probably this year more than any other. We were all tested from our administration to our team, to our great fans. Thanks to all those who didn't let the outside world infiltrate their decision whether to stay on the wagon or jump off."
Saccoccia encouraged those in attendance to "learn from what we've gone through."
"Say what you may, but put your name on what you say," he added.
The 2012 Big Red finished its regular season at 8-2, earning a home playoff game. The club whipped Maysville in the first round before falling to West Holmes in the Region 11 semifinals.
For Big Red, the eight win season was its 12th in a row. Additionally, the trip to the playoffs was the school's 12th straight.
Before handing out awards, Saccoccia called forward 28 players from his 54-man squad and saluted them for earning grade-point averages of 3.0 or better.
"People like to think of Big Red football players as playing in the sandbox all day long or taking nothing but woodshop," Saccoccia pointed out. "These guys deserve recognition for their academic accomplishments."
Seven awards were handed out during the event.
Manard Reed, who played nose tackle and fullback, earned the MVP award, which is voted on by players and coaches. During his final campaign, he recorded 42 tackles and two sacks.
The other award winners were:
Doctors Press/Macedonia Award (designed to honor performances both on the field in the classroom): Matt Petrella, who boats a GPA of 3.5. He led the team in receiving with 37 catches for 500 yards and six touchdowns. He also was the team co-leader in interceptions. His pick six against Akron Butchel played a major role in Big Red earning a victory.
Calvin Jones Award (designed to honor a player for outstanding performances on both sides of the football): Charlie Keenan, the 52nd recipient. As a defender, Keenan, who recently signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Kent State University, had 25 solo tackles and two quarterback sacks.
Dan Keenan Leadership Award: Corey Stinson, who stepped up and took over at quarterback for the Big Red. The senior threw for 1,347 yards and 11 scores. In presenting the award, Dr. Keenan said Stinson "was challenged, put in the line of fire and showed his true leadership skills."
Abe Bryan/Punque Cartledge Award (winners were selected by the coaches): Dashon Redman and Tajuan Lawson. Redman led the team in rushing with 910 yards and was second in tackles with 72. The hard-running Redman earned third team all-Ohio Division III honors. Lawson was the top tackler (he has 73 solo stops), caught 15 passes and returned 13 kicks for 257 yards. He tied Petrella for the team lead in interceptions.
Dave Hindman Hustle Award: Luke McCourt, who had a stellar season as an offensive lineman for Big Red. McCourt, who earned special mention all-Ohio honors, was praised by Saccoccia for "never missing a workout." He and Redman both were first team all-Eastern District picks.
Special Teams Awards (players were honored for their total season efforts): Luke Smith and Lawson. Smith, the senior placekicker, nailed 26 of 30 extra points and four field goals. He connected on two three-pointers against Butchel, including what proved to be the game winner.
After presenting the Jones award, Patty West, niece of the Big Red football legend, reported the documentary put together by Infield Fly Productions of Canada will be shown on Dec. 29 at 1 p.m. in the Big Red auditorium. The viewing will be free of charge. The documentary was done in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Canadian football.
Saccoccia also took time to recognize past Big Red players.
"We had to stay focused on what we were doing, so we didn't get the opportunity to recognize our former players for their accomplishments," he said.
Players earning praise were:
Zach Collaros, the Cincinnati graduate who recently participated in the CFL Grey Cup game; Dwight Macon, a slot receiver for the University of Toledo; Andrew Radakovich, an offensive tackle at Youngstown State; Najee Murray, who was seeing time on special teams at Ohio State University before suffering a season-ending injury; Shaq Petteway, a strong safety at West Virginia; Marcus Prather, the 2011 Big Red quarterback who has earned a scholarship at Akron; Dreylon Pree, a recent Toledo graduate; Willie Pruitt, an offensive lineman at Robert Morris; and Jordan McIntrye, who played at Wooster.
Others recognized were:
Mark Markakis, a linebacker at Ohio Dominican; Leshawn Luke, who is playing at Mount Union; Jeryl Christian, a defensive end at Kentucky Christian; Alvin Taylor, a running back at Muskingum; Davon Wicker, a defensive lineman at Muskingum; and William Houst, who played defense at Gavilan Junior College in California. Houst earned first team all-conference honors and led all junior college players in sacks.