Two of West Virginia's best Class A squads will tangle in a Week 3 showdown Saturday at Weirton's Jimmy Carey Stadium.
Madonna, which fell one point shy of winning the small school crown in 2012, and Wheeling Central, which has played for nine Class A titles in the last 13 years, will both bring 2-0 marks into the contest, set for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Blue Dons tuned up for the Maroon Knight invasion by running past Tuscarawas Central Catholic 33-6. Doug Taylor's club compiled 352 offensive yards in the victory, all coming on the ground.
GANG TACKLE — The Steubenville Big Red defense allowed 62 yards on 30 carries to Cleveland Benedictine in a 28-17 win at Harding Stadium. Big Red is 2-0.
-- Ron Gardner
HUDDLE UP — Weirton Madonna earned a 33-6 victory at Tusky Catholic Saturday under temporary lights. The Blue Dons racked up 352 yards of offense, all on the ground. Quarterback Ross Comis had 199 yards on 22 carries on 22 carries and four touchdowns and Eliott Nero 126 yards on 20 attempts and a score.
-- Courtesy Tamara Green Photography
Senior tailback Eliot Nero pounded away at the middle of the Saints defense for 126 stripes on 20 carries and scored on a four-yard burst. Meanwhile, senior quarterback Ross Comis darted inside and outside for 199 yards and crossed the goal four times. Comis toted the pigskin 22 times (averaging nine a trip).
Comis' 64-yard scoring jaunt was a thing of beauty. He rolled to his left, broke the TCC containment and cruised down the sidelines untouched.
"That was us taking advantage of what the defense was giving us," Blue Don leader Doug Taylor said about his team's smash-mouth brand of football.
"We liked what we were seeing and realized if we didn't have to throw it, we'd rather run it down their throats."
Madonna was part of a historical evening in New Philadelphia. Tusky Central brought in portable lights to the Art Teynor Athletic Complex to play its first night game on the home field.
The Maroon Knights posted a 34-15 victory over Pittsburgh Westinghouse in Week 2.
"Wheeling Central has a pretty good football team," Taylor stated. "We had the opportunity to see them against Westinghouse. They have two backs that run downhill and run hard. They definitely are going to give us some problems.
"We'll do our film exchange and see what we can do to prepare for them during the week."
Offensively, Madonna is averaging 415 yards per game and 48 points through two games. Meanwhile, the defense has surrendered just 14 points.
In 2012, the squads endured a near two-hour rain delay at Wheeling Island Stadium before the Knights outlasted the Blue Dons 28-22. Madonna held a 7-0 first quarter lead when lightning and rain forced the players off the field.
The game started at 7 p.m. and eventually ended at 11:30 p.m.
The Knights were ranked second in the Charleston Daily Mail's preseason Class A poll while the Dons were No. 3.
Catholic Central's Stone Romano was living the dream Friday in his team's 48-19 win at Frontier.
The junior fullback touched the pigskin three times and found the end zone on each trip. He scored on runs of 1, 11 and 3. For the season, he has nine carries and four rushing touchdowns.
He also has caught a scoring pass and nailed seven conversion kicks, giving him an area best 37 points after two weeks.
Senior wide receiver Johnny DiCarlantonio also turned his first touch of the season into six points. He was on the receiving end of a 45-yard scoring toss from senior quarterback Brenton Colabella.
Central is off to its first 2-0 start since 2007. The Crusaders will be looking for their first 3-0 start since 2005 when they travel to Columbiana Friday. The Clippers are 1-1 after beating Leetonia 22-21 over the weekend.
A passing weekend:
Four area quarterbacks threw for 200 yards or more during week two action.
Edison's Nolan Marcus led the way with his 324 passing stripes in a tough loss to Carrollton. He threw for two scores and added another on an 11-yard scamper. Marcus has an area best 514 passing yards through two weeks.
Harrison Central's David Miser had a near perfect night in Friday's 46-14 win at Weir. He hit on 11 of 12 attempts and four completions resulted in scores. His four scoring passes all came in the first half.
"People seem to forget that Miser took a year off last year," said Huskie coach Justin Kropka. "He'll get better and so will this team."
Not to be outdone, Toronto sophomore Blaze Glenn went 8 for 9, good for 200 stripes and a couple of six-pointers. One of his TD tosses went to big brother Chez, covering 56 yards.
The Glenn brothers were responsible for 390 of Toronto's 400 total offensive yards in the 35-14 whipping of Bridgeport. B. Glenn ran for 82 while C. Glenn rushed for 38 and snared two passes for 70 more.
B. Glenn's performance prompted his head coach, Eric Meek, to call him a "great young man."
"He's turned into a leader this year," Meek continued. "He understands the system, he understands what we expect out of him and he's only going to get better."
Central's Colabella continued his push for 6,000 career passing yards by throwing for 207 and three touchdowns in the win at Frontier. At the moment, the Crusader signal caller has 5,865 passing yards.
So far, so good:
Big Red's quarterback and running back by committee approach is off to a pretty good start.
In Friday's 28-17 over Benedictine (a victory that may have opened some eyes), sophomore quarterbacks Dimitri Collaros and Mandela Lawrence-Burke combined for nearly 200 yards of offense.
Collaros connected on 15 of his 22 attempts for 124 yards and two scores. His completion percentage would have been higher if not for two spikes designed to stop the clock near the end of the first half. Lawrence-Burke passed for 19 yards and a six-pointer. He used his speed to collect 48 yards on the ground.
During the preseason, coach Reno Saccoccia said "we'll probably have two quarterbacks going into the third game, but not after that."
The 2-0 Big Red will entertain Pinehurst Prep from Canada in game three Friday. The visitors from up north, by the way, opened their season by topping Pittsburgh Renaissance Christian Academy, 49-38. RCA will visit St. Clairsville this week and will supply the week 10 opposition for Steubenville.
Six tailbacks toted the pigskin in the Legends Night victory. Combined, they had 35 carries for 156 stripes. Hard-running senior Garon Lytle paced the stable of ball carriers, collecting 80 yards on 16 trips.
"I have confidence in them," Saccoccia said of his stable of tailbacks. "They all pass blocked well (in the Benedictine game) and they're doing a nice job for us."
Strange but true:
As a team, Brooke compiled 284 rushing yards in its 21-19 win over Pittsburgh Allerdice.
A closer look at the stats reveals quarterback Aaron Walker and tailback Nick Ossman combined for 299 rushing yards (two Bruins finished the night in the negative category and the team was credited with a rushing loss).
Walker ran for 162 on 13 carries (12 stripes a trip) while Ossman toted the pigskin 25 times, gaining 137. Walker also accounted for three touchdowns on runs of 29, 27 and 9.
"I have to credit my line," Walker was quick to point out following the Bruin home victory. "I know those guys don't get a lot of credit but they really should. Whatever we get, it's all behind what they do."
Blumette also put trust in his defense late.
The Bruins eschewed two early fourth down punt situations and instead went for it. Those two times failed, giving the Dragons the ball in prime field position, once at midfield and another time at the Bruins 26. Twice, the defense came through and didn't allow Allderdice any points.
"It's one of those things where if it works, you look like a genius, and if it doesn't, you look like the biggest dummy in the stadium," Blumette said. "We thought we had good situations there, it just didn't work out. We had faith in our defense."
The 1-1 Bruins host University Friday.
Roaring to the top:
Thanks to his 166-yard performance in Friday's 12-6 come-from-behind triumph at East Liverpool, Indian Creek senior Blake Roar became the top rusher in The Herald Star/Daily Times coverage area.
Through two games, he has 284 stripes on 34 trips (an 8.3 average) and four touchdowns.
Creek scored twice within a 1:32 span of the final quarter to earn the victory. Tyler Lathem bulled in from the three to tie the score with 7:25 remaining. The Redskins needed just one play, a 47-yard gallop by Roar, to take the lead with 5:52 left. The decisive scoring run came following Roar's diving interception.
"Our backs ran hard," Creek's Andrew Connor stated. "We have three backs who we really count on - Roar and Lathem at tailback and then Zach Connor on the iso at fullback."
Never to early:
Joe Eitel, Ohio's football playoff guru, already has started compiling data regarding the state's seven divisions.
According to information on his website, Big Red currently stands second in Region 13 of Division IV. Bloom-Carroll is first and Indian Creek sixth. Edison is 13th.
Catholic Central is second, Shadyside has the lead, in Region 25 of Division VII. Toronto is listed in the sixth spot. Eitel has Harrison Central in 16th place in Region 15 of Division V
Running wild: 199, Comis, Madonna, 4 touchdowns; 170, Roar, Indian Creek, touchdown; 162, Walker, Brooke, 3 touchdowns; 137, Ossman, Brooke; 126, Nero, Madonna, touchdown; 102, Damion Beall, Buckeye Local; 93, Fletcher, Catholic Central; 92, William Larch, Weir, 2 touchdowns; 82, B. Glenn, Toronto, touchdown; 80, Lytle, Big Red, touchdown.
Gunslingers: 324, Marcus, Edison, 28 of 43, 2 scores; 220, Miser, Harrison Central, 11 of 12, 4 scores; 207, Colabella, Catholic Central, 15 of 23, 3 scores; 200, B. Glenn, Toronto, 8 of 9, 2 scores; 124, Collaros, Big Red, 15 of 22, 2 scores
Hands team: 6, Rich Springer, Edison, 114; 5, Devan Tennant, Edison, touchdown; 5, Nick Glenn, Edison; 5, Lucas Herrington, Big Red, touchdown; 4, Nate Olmstead, Harrison Central, touchdown