Don't look now but the King (also known as high school football) has reached the halfway point of his annual stay in the area. And, it certainly seems fitting that the King will celebrate Week 5 with a couple of marquee matchups.
Marquee match I: Massillon's 4-0 Tigers will invade Harding Stadium to test the unbeaten Big Red. Friday's kick is set for 7 p.m.
Massillon, ranked number one in Ohio's revamped Division II, prepped for its Jefferson County trip by blasting Mentor Lake Catholic 35-6 in week 4. The Tigers are 4-0 for the first time since 2009.
HIT — Big Red’s Bryan Pierro hits Brooke’s Alexander Tate during Friday’s game. Big Red defeated Brooke and will face No. 1 Massillon Friday at Harding Stadium.
-- Ron Gardner
Against Lake, Massillon scored all its points in the first half, rolling to 228 yards of total offense. Jason Hall's club has earned victories over Massillon Perry, Canton Glen Oak, Warren Harding and Lake.
Massillon leads the overall series with Big Red 39-5-2. Since the rivalry was renewed in 2009, each team has posted two victories on the home turf.
Big Red, the fourth rated team in Division IV, improved to 4-0 by scoring 29 unanswered points in topping Brooke 32-15.
Reno Saccoccia's tailbacks by committee accounted for 251 yards on 29 carries (an average of 8.7 stripes per trip) and three touchdowns. Robert Hayden accounted for 73, Donte Brown 58 and Johnnie Blue 49.
Marquee match II: Indian Creek visits St. Clairsville in a battle of unbeaten Buckeye 8 squads.
The Creek clipped Buckeye Local 30-16 in week 4 while St. Clairsville was handling previously undefeated Martins Ferry 35-14. Friday's game will start at 7 p.m. in Belmont County.
Creek played without several key players in its league opener.
"It's hard to overcome having six, seven starters out in a game and losing two or three during the game," said Andrew Connor. "In high school football when you're down eight or nine starters in a game - that's tough."
Back to work:
Madonna's 3-0 Blue Dons get back to work this week after going through the mandatory West Virginia bye week.
Doug Taylor's club will celebrate homecoming when it hosts Cameron on Friday at Jimmy Carey Stadium. The kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Blue Dons were ranked fifth in last week's West Virginia Class A computer poll.
One in the books:
In Weir High's exciting 22-21 victory over Grafton that snapped the longest losing streak in Red Rider football history (last win was Nov. 4, 2011), quarterback William Larch was instrumental in several ways.
He led the Red Rider ground attack with 112 yards on 16 carries, including a one-yard touchdown run, and he had his best passing night of the young season, despite four dropped passes by Red Rider receivers in the first half.
Larch completed five of 16 passes for 85 yards including a 21-yarder to Clarence Bennett for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
His two two-point conversions played immensely in the final outcome. On the first one, he started to run to his right and found a bunch of Bearcats in his way, so he cut toward the goal line and bulled his way pushing three Grafton defenders over the goal line. Larch had some help from behind by some of his friends in black jerseys.
Then, the deciding point was scored on a trick play for the conversion points when Larch pitched the ball to Matt Hartman, who in turn tossed a pass to Larch as he scooted into the end zone.
"This is the first win in the new Jimmy Carey Stadium and it means so much to our team, to the student body and the community," said a jubilant Tony Filberto. "We got the first win. We're not satisfied, we're going to get the next one next week."
The Red Riders visit 0-3 Liberty-Harrison Friday.
The last road win?
You guessed it, Nov. 4, 2011.
Against all odds:
Les Hicks, a former Big Red standout, will return to town this week for several book signings.
Hicks, who went on to play at Marshall University, recently published a book about his football experiences - "Against All Odds: 4th Down and Forever." In his book, Hicks discusses the role high school football plays in the area.
The schedule for Hicks' visit is as follows:
Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., main branch the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, South Fourth Street; 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Kroger Hollywood City Center.
Thursday, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Kroger.
Friday, 4 p.m to 6:30 p.m., Harding Middle School. Hicks also will be signing books during Big Red's game with Massillon near the upper concession stand at Harding Stadium.
Big plays on D:
During a weekend of big plays on the defensive side of the football, Indian Creek's Tyler Lathem had the biggest. With his team up 15-8 late in the third quarter and Buckeye Local threatening (the Panthers had the ball inside the Redskin 10); Lathem stepped in front of a pass at the goal line and raced 100 yards to pay dirt.
Lathem also added a touchdown on the offensive side as he rushed for 74 yards on just four tries.
Other big plays included:
Weir's defensive stand on Grafton's last drive to preserve a 22-21 win.
The Creek defense stopping Buckeye's Devin Pyciak at the one-yard line to maintain a seven-point advantage at the half.
Brooke's Todd Clark breaking through the Big Red line to drop Hayden in the end zone for a safety.
Hayden joining forces with William Harvey to drop a Brooke ball carrier for a five-yard loss, thus stopping a Bruin scoring drive.
Arin Goldsmith and Kai McClurg coming up with huge tackles behind the line in the win over Brooke.
Bruin Casey Munger getting a quarterback sack which resulted in a fumble, teammate Thomas Cole recovering.
Catholic Central's Jack McCann recording two TFLs (tackles for losses) on Toronto's opening drive. McCann's efforts forced the Red Knights to settle for a field goal.
Crusader Louis Fallon finished with two quarterback sacks. As a team, Central had seven.
Two for 100:
Indian Creek had two 100-yard rushers in Friday's win over Buckeye Local.
Michael Puorro led the Redskins with 124 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Blake Roar had 113 on 13 touches with a score. Creek's ground game accounted for 349 yards.
"You need guys to step up," said Creek's Andrew Connor. "Michael (Puorro) was one of those kids. He did a good job when we called his number behind Jonathan Dailey, our backup fullback."
Roar continues to lead area rushers. Through four games, he has 597 yards on 79 touches and eight rushing touchdowns.
It's not easy:
The Big Red football roster listed Bryan Pierro, a senior wide receiver and defensive back, as 5-9, 155 pounds. Both stats might be a stretch.
For the past couple of seasons, Pierro, despite his size, has developed a reputation for being a fierce tackler from his defensive back position. Through four games, he also has become a threat on offense. He now leads the Red in receptions with eight for 124 yards.
Pierro's grab of a Dimitri Collaros pass during the second quarter of Friday's game at Brooke was a thing of beauty. The completion was good for 34 yards and kept the Big Red drive alive.
Catholic Central's Khalil Jones toted the pigskin just four times in Saturday's victory over Toronto, Three of his trips resulted in touchdowns.
The speedy senior crossed the goal from 49, 21 and 15 yards out. He finished the night with 91 stripes as the Crusaders improved to 4-0.
"He's just an outstanding athlete and we know what he can do," Central coach Steve Daley said of Jones. "He made some great runs. When he sees an opening, he wants to get to the end zone."
TOs do hurt:
Turnovers continue to haunt the Buckeye Local Panthers, who had a costly one in losing to Indian Creek.
"We came out and answered the bell I thought but turnovers are just killing," said Buckeye boss Phil Pest. "We had a couple chances to go ahead or tie the game, and we're our worst enemy sometimes."
Chase Hopkins did throw for 231 yards and a touchdown to pace the Buckeye offense. Eric Banal and Damion Beall had three receptions each.
Harrison Central's David Miser had another strong night as the Huskies knocked Union Local from the ranks of the unbeaten, posting a 27-7 victory.
Miser completed 11 of 20 for 192 yards and two touchdowns. For the season, he has thrown for 748 and eight scores. Miser did throw one interception deep in Jet territory.
"He can throw it, but the red zone mistakes are killing us," Huskie boss Justin Kropka noted. "Other than that one pick, he played a really good game."
Nate Olmstead, the area's leading receiver with 18 grabs, and Dalton Rutter caught three balls each from Miser in the Buckeye 8 win.
Hard to believe:
Edison ran 84 plays in Saturday's game at Bellaire. The host Big Reds logged 38. The Wildcats had no turnovers while forcing three.
Further, Edison earned 19 first downs compared to just 10 for Bellaire. Given those numbers, it's hard to believe Derrick Stickles' club suffered a 26-12 loss in the rain at Nelson Field.
"We just couldn't take advantage of the opportunities we were given," Stickles said. "We talk about opportunities all the time in practice and there were opportunities today we let slip away."
Nolan Marcus did throw for 153 yards for Edison. Rich Springer was on the receiving end of seven while Devan Tennant grabbed four as did Ethan Shannon. Shannon added 104 on the ground before leaving the game in the second half with an ankle injury.
One of the best:
Aaron Walker had everyone inside Brooke's Memorial Stadium fooled early in the Big Red game.
The junior quarterback faked a handoff to his running back (Justin Loughrie), moved to his left, turned up field and raced 85 yards for the game's first score.
"Aaron made a great fake," Brooke's Sean Blumette stated. "Everyone thought Justin had the ball. I actually thought he (Loughrie) got stuffed. The next thing I knew, Aaron is 40 yards down the field."
Walker finished the night with 212 yards of total offense. Senior Alex Tate was on the receiving end of four Walker aerials to pace the Bruins.
124, Puorro, Indian Creek, touchdown; 118, Roar, Indian Creek, touchdown; 116, Larch, Weir, touchdown; 104, Shannon, Edison; 91, Jones, Catholic Central, 3 touchdowns
231, Hopkins, Buckeye Local, 12 of 30, score; 192, Miser, Harrison Central, 11 of 29, 2 scores; 153, Marcus, Edison, 21 of 33, score; 137, Brenton Colabella, Catholic Central, 7 of 12, two scores; 133, Walker, Brooke, 10 of 17
7, Springer Edison, 31; 5, Fletcher, Catholic Central, 108, 2 touchdowns; 4, Tennant, Edison, 84, touchdown; 4, Shannon, Edison, 23; 4, Tate, Brooke, 62; 3, Pierro, Big Red, 76; 3, Rutter, Harrison Central, 84, touchdown; 3. Olmstead, Harrison Central, 48, touchdown; 3, Banal, Buckeye Local, 65, touchdown; 3, Beall, Buckeye Local, 24; 3, Chez Glenn, Toronto, 21