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Ground games lead the way

September 16, 2013
By ED LOOMAN - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

Through the first three weeks, it appears the run is alive and well among high school football squads in The Herald Star/Daily Times coverage area.

To date, the clubs have compiled 9,506 yards of total offense. Of that total, 5,694 (60 percent) have come on the ground.

Indian Creek leads the way when it comes to grounding and pounding the football. The 3-0 Redskins have rolled to 844 stripes on the ground (they have just 131 passing). Creek's Blake Roar has 479 of his team's total. The senior has toted the pigskin 66 times and scored seven times.

Article Photos

RUNNING GAME — Toronto’s Chez Glenn runs with the ball while teammate Josh Roche (55) looks to make a play and teammate Jordan Allen looks on.
-- Mike Mathison

Madonna, which also is 3-0, has 1,238 yards as a team. The Dons have 884 on the ground and 354 via the air. Senior quarterback Ross Comis has rushed for 336 and senior tailback Elliot Nero 295.

Big Red, another 3-0 club, has earned 65 percent of its offensive total via the rushing attack. The Red has a total of 1,027 (664 via the run). Big Red's tailback by committee approach is paced by senior Garon Lytle (194) and junior Donte Brown (161).

Catholic Central, the area's other unbeaten team, was close to the 60-40 rule until senior quarterback Brenton Colabella recorded a huge night against Columbiana.

Colabella threw for 412 and four touchdowns as the Crusaders topped the Clippers 35-7. He has 764 through the first three weeks. His performance against Columbiana gives him 6,277 passing yards, unofficially, for his career.

With his performance, the Central senior became only the eighth quarterback in OVAC history to surpass the 6,000 yard mark in his career. Bellaire's Spencer Badia cracked the barrier in Saturday's loss to Shadyside.

Ryan Fletcher grabbed six Colabella passes for 119 and a score. Johnny DiCarlantonio had four catches for 91 and two touchdowns. Aleks Porreca hauled in three for 115 and a six-pointer.

Lending a hand:

Ross Ivkovich, a teacher and head tennis coach at Big Red, stepped up big time Friday, providing some much needed assistance to a member of the Canada Prep Football Academy team.

Justin Julian, a senior wide receiver/defensive back for the Raiders, arrived in Steubenville broke and hungry. Julian ran into some major travel troubles and was forced to take a taxi from the Pittsburgh airport.

Apparently, the young man started his day in Atlanta and was scheduled to catch a flight to Buffalo, where he would meet the team bus. His flight was late, so his bus connection didn't work out.

He then flew to Philadelphia before catching another flight to Pittsburgh where the cab was waiting. After paying for the ride, Julian arrived at Big Red in need of a lift to the stadium.

That's when Ivkovich, who also is a member of the WCDK-FM broadcasting team, got involved. He provided the ride and also supplied Julian with some cash for a meal at McDonald's, Julian used all his money to pay for the cab ride.

Julian and his Prep teammates proved they weren't a typical Canadian team. The Raiders gave Big Red all they could handle before falling 43-38. Julian did make one reception in the game, good for nine yards.

The bye's OK:

Madonna was indeed dominant in its convincing 42-7 triumph over Wheeling Central Saturday. The Blue Dons rolled to 409 offensive yards while holding the Maroon Knights to just 180.

The victory was the first in three years for Madonna over its Class A rival. Doug Taylor's club now, thanks to West Virginia's mandatory bye week, has some time to savor the huge win. Taylor believes the down time is a good thing for his club.

"It's a good time for our bye week," Taylor said following Saturday's contest. "Some kids are nicked up and there are some things we need to work on. It gives us an opportunity to give our guys some rest since they have been going at it since early August. Plus, we have a couple of junior varsity games to give those guys some playing time."

The game against Central was Madonna's first of six straight at Jimmy Carey Stadium. The Blue Dons will celebrate homecoming Sept. 27 when Cameron visits.

Where they stand:

Joe Eitel, Ohio's computer ratings guru, has Indian Creek holding down the fourth spot in Division IV Region 13 after three weeks. Big Red is ranked fifth and Edison 12th.

The top three teams are Bloom-Carroll, Maysville, Big Red's first round playoff opponent in 2012, and Bexley.

Catholic Central is rated third in Division VII Region 25. Shadyside is No. 1 followed by Glouster Trimble. Toronto is ninth, according to Eitel.

Harrison Central is 21st in Region 15 of Ohio's Division V.

Getting their kicks:

At least four local schools have turned to their soccer programs for some kicking assistance.

John-Paul Duff, the goalie for Big Red's soccer club, is handling the kickoff, punting and extra point chores for the football team. In Friday's win over Canada Prep, he was three for three on extra points.

Catholic Central is using John-Paul McNamara, a member of the 9-0 soccer squad. McNamara went five for five against Columbiana. On Saturday, he recorded a goal as the Crusaders handled Cambridge 2-1.

Weir's Alyssa Shingle split the uprights twice in Friday's loss to Edison. And Indian Creek used Lee Utt against Oak Glen. He hit three and had one blocked.

Third quarter blues:

For the second straight week, Brooke lost its swag during the third quarter. The Bruins trailed University by just six points (20-14) at the half but was outscored 15-0 during the third stanza and 24-7 in the second half.

"We've got to find a solution for that,' said Bruin coach Sean Blumette. "Our third quarters are really hurting us. Right now, we're looking for what that answer could be to improve that."

Justin Loughrie had a big game for Brooke, collecting 123 yards on 10 carries. He found the end zone on a 26 yard run.

Longtime rivals:

Catholic Central and Toronto will meet for the 41st time at Harding Stadium Saturday. For the Crusaders, the game will be the first on their home field. Central holds a 29-10-1 advantage in the series.

The series took a break following the 1979 season but resumed in 1992 and has been played every season since.

The Crusaders started with three road games, but now will play three straight at home. Oak Glen will visit on Sept. 28 (homecoming, 1:30 p.m. game) and Conotton Valley on Oct. 5.

Toronto will enter the game at 2-1. Eric Meek's team is coming off a 34-14 win on the road at Fairport Harding. The Red Knight defense held the Skippers to negative-2 rushing yards on 24 carries.

"Our defense played a whale of a game," Meek said. "It is great to get the win and come home 2-1."

Senior Chez Glenn paced the offense, collecting 128 yards on six carries and scoring on a 64-yard touchdown run. Sophomore quarterback Blaze Glenn threw for 125 stripes and two scores.

Central will be looking to go 4-0 for the first time since 2005.

The Crusader defense was pretty good in knocking off Columbiana. Louis Fallon, Khalil Jones and Tony Barber all had interceptions for Steve Daley's crew. Meanwhile, Chris Murphy was credited with 13 tackles from his linebacker spot.

Amazing run:

Ethan Shannon put on a whale of a show in Edison's 46-14 win at Weir. He gained 187 yards on just nine carries (20.7 stripes per tote) and scored twice. His touchdown jaunts covered 1 and 67.

"Any chance I have to get him the football we're going to do that," Edison coach Derrick Stickles said. "We're surrounded by a lot of athletes, but the performance Ethan put on tonight - that run where he cut back, got downfield and punished one of the defenders, it's amazing.

"He's one heck of an athlete and I'm looking forward to seeing how he progresses throughout the remainder of the season."

For the season, Shannon has 335 yards on 38 carries (third best in the coverage area) and six touchdowns.

The TO bug:

Buckeye Local had its chances against John Marshall Friday but the Panthers just couldn't avoid the turnover bug.

The Panthers turned the football over on each of their first four possessions, three coming in the red zone.

Senior quarterback Chase Hopkins did have a solid night for Buckeye, completing seven of 15 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown.

The little things:

Harrison Central outgained unbeaten Western Reserve 328-265 in Friday's 17-8 loss. The hard-luck Huskies, now 1-2, even had six more first downs (17-11) than their guests.

Justin Kropka's club made five trips into scoring territory but only came away with one score (an 8-yard toss from David Miser to Nate Olmstead). The other four resulted in two interceptions and two turnovers on downs.

"We've been doing a lot of the big things well," Kropka said.

"But we need to start taking care of the little things."

Miser did throw for 250 yards (completing 20 of 36 attempts). Olmstead had eight grabs for 92. Travis Stenson caught four.

Olmstead leads all area receivers with 15 catches for 219 stripes.

Mr. Touchdown II:

Edison 's Jevin Leggett and Rich Springer shared the title of Mr. Touchdown during Week 3 action.

In the Wildcat victory over Weir, Leggett had two carries, both good for touchdowns. Springer, meanwhile, caught two Nolan Marcus passes for 100 yards and a pair of scores.

Can't just wait:

Indian Creek scored 21 fourth quarter points to whip Oak Glen 35-14. In three games, the Redskins have outscored their opposition 52-0 during the final 12 minutes.

"I think we're good and I think they know we're good, but you can't just wait until the end to show it," Creek's Andrew Connor said following the battle with the Golden Bears. "I think we've had three unbelievable fourth quarters. The trouble is putting ourselves in jeopardy. You only get so many of these nine lives and we need to start picking it up sooner.

"We need to be able to take the way we've played in the final quarter and multiply it by four quarters."

Despite the loss, Ian Whittington was proud of his Bears.

"We played one of the toughest teams in the Ohio Valley and we gave a great effort," he stated.

Micah Swiger had a magical night for Oak Glen. He carried the pigskin twice, collecting 112 yards and a touchdown.

Found a back:

Matt Hartman, a transfer from Brooke, supplied one of the bright spots for Weir in Friday's loss to Edison.

The junior, who replaced the injured Kameron Davis at running back, toted the pigskin 24 times, compiling 73 stripes.

"I think we found a back," Weir's Tony Filberto said about Hartman.

Top stats:

Running wild

195, Roar, Indian Creek, 3 touchdowns; 187, Shannon, Edison, 2 touchdowns; 132, Nero, Madonna, touchdown; 128, C. Glenn, Toronto, touchdown; 123, Loughrie, Brooke, touchdown; 112, M. Swiger, Oak Glen, (2 carries), touchdown; 104, Donte Brown, Big Red, 2 touchdowns; 103, Comis, Madonna, 4 touchdowns; 95, Lytle, Big Red, 2 touchdowns; 73, Hartman, Weir

Gunslingers

412, Colabella, Catholic Central, 20 of 33, 4 scores; 250, Miser, Harrison Central, 20 of 36, score; 143, Marcus, Edison, 3 of 7, two scores; 138, Hopkins, Buckeye Local, 7 of 15, score; 136, Comis, Madonna, 9 of 12, score; 125, B. Glenn, Toronto, 10 of 17, 2 scores

Hands team

8, Olmstead, Harrison Central, 92, touchdown; 6, Nero, Madonna, 59, touchdown; 6, Fletcher, Catholic Central, 119, touchdown; 4, DiCarlantonio, Catholic Central, 91, 2 touchdowns; 4, Stenson, Harrison Central, 48