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Three teams left

Blue Dons, Central and Big Red still in pads

November 11, 2013
By ED LOOMAN - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

It's now official - Madonna's goal of returning to Wheeling Island can be achieved without leaving the friendly confines of Jimmy Carey Stadium.

The 10-0 Blue Dons are the number one seed in the West Virginia Class A playoffs, which begin this weekend. Doug Taylor's crew will host 16th-seeded Tucker County, 6-4, on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Tucker County dropped its regular season finale to Clarksburg Notre Dame. Other losses were to Moorefield, Oakland, Md. Southern and East Hardy.

Article Photos

WEEK 12 — Weirton Madonna’s Eliott Nero runs the ball.
-- Mike Mathison

Madonna and the Mountain Lions met in the 2012 playoffs, the Dons earning a 20-14 victory in double overtime.

Meanwhile, Big Red and Catholic Central now know where they are heading for their regional semifinal games.

Big Red, 7-4, will test 8-3 Maysville at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in St. Clairsville. Reno Saccoccia's club is the eighth seed in Division IV, Region 13 while the Panthers finished fourth.

Fact Box

Big Red selling tickets

STEUBENVILLE - Tickets for Steubenville Big Red's Division IV playoff game against Zanesville Maysville and St. Clairsville at 7:30 p.m. Friday will be on sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at Big Red's ticket office.

Cost is $7. All tickets are $9 at the gate. The school will receive a portion of the presale tickets only.

Crusaders selling tickets

STEUBENVILLE - Tickets for Steubenville Catholic Central's Division VII?playoff game against Glouster Trimble at Zanesville High?School will be on sale from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday through Friday in the school cafeteria.

Cost is $7. All tickets are $9 at the gate. The school will receive a portion of the presale tickets only.

Catholic Central, 9-2, has a date with unbeaten Glouster Trimble, the top seed in Division VII, Region 25, on Saturday in Zanesville. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Madonna wrapped up its perfect regular season by drilling Clay-Battelle 35-6 Friday. Of the 10 Blue Don wins, six came against playoff qualifiers (Beallsville, Wheeling Central, Bishop Donahue, Clarksburg Notre Dame, Catholic Central and Clay-Battelle).

In the victory over the Cee-Bees, Ross Comis had a game to remember. He ran and passed for a combined 312 yards in the first half alone. Comis finished with 254 rushing and 176 passing. The senior signal caller scored once on the ground and threw for two more.

During the regular season, Comis passed for 1,299 yards and added another 1,254 via the ground.

Eliott Nero had his usual steady game against C-B, gaining 106 on 18 trips and scoring twice. He has rushed for 1,289 and 19 scores.

Will Bowser hauled in seven Comis tosses for 122 yards and a score. Friday's effort gives him 35 grabs for the season.

Should Madonna survive its initial playoff test, it would advance to face the winner of the eight (Wahama) versus nine (Clay-Battelle) contest. Wahama earned a 43-42 overtime victory over Madonna in last year's Class A title game.

Big Red and Maysville locked horns in the 2012 playoffs, the Red earning a 28-0 victory at Harding Stadium. That contest represented the initial post-season appearance for the Panthers of coach Craig Clarke.

Saccoccia's squad advanced by ousting top-seeded Newark Licking Valley, 28-14. Maysville scored a 35-14 win over Columbus Bexley. The Panthers actually helped Big Red get into the playoffs with their last-second Week 19 victory against Claymont.

Jordan Hayes ran for 155 yards in the Maysville quarterfinal victory. Big Red held the Panther ace to just 36 stripes last season. Two of the three Panther losses came to playoff teams (John Glenn and Tri-Valley). Sheridan handed Maysville its other setback.

In the victory over Licking Valley, Big Red received 270 rushing yards from Johnnie Blue (96), Robert Hayden (92) and Mandela Lawrence-Burke (82).

Lawrence-Burke also threw for 122 with Lucas Herrington grabbing five for 68.

The other Region 13 semifinal game matches second-seeded Indian Valley against number three Philo. That contest will be played at Meadowbrook High School.

Catholic Central earned its first playoff victory since 2005 (also the last time the Crusaders hosted a post-season game) by downing Racine Southern 35-7. The Tornadoes got on the board first before Central reeled off 35 unanswered points.

The Trimble Tomcats are 11-0 for the first time in program history. The number one seed blew out Beallsville 61-0 in the quarterfinals. Trimble owns a 42-14 victory over Racine.

Trimble, based in Athens County, recorded its school-record eighth shutout against Beallsville. The Tomcats picked off six passes and returned two for touchdowns.

Brenton Colabella threw for 115 yards and a pair of scores in Central's win over Southern. The record-setting senior quarterback is just two stripes away from a 2,000 yard season.

Aleks Porreca hauled in four Colabella tosses for 65 yards and a score. Johnny DiCarlantonio grabbed the other scoring toss.

Khalil Jones had a monster game for the Crusaders. He rushed for 101 and two scores. He turned an interception into six points. Jones also had a 42-yard kickoff return which led to Central's initial touchdown.

Trimble is in the playoffs for the 10th time. The Tomcats sport a 4-9 post-season record.

Number two Shadyside meets sixth-seeded Caldwell in the other Region 25 semifinal. That game will be played in New Philadelphia.

Glimpse of future:

Central fans caught a glimpse of the future via the Crusaders' last defensive stand Saturday.

Sophomore John Fallon and freshman Vinnie DiCarlantonio both tipped away passes downfield and freshman Daniel Harris batted a ball at the line of scrimmage to end Southern's last drive.

"Our young kids have gotten a lot of playing time this year in different games," said Central coach Steve Daley. "I was happy they were able to get in this game in the playoff atmosphere, and they did what they needed to do."

With youth comes:

Reno Saccoccia truly believes that "with youth comes enthusiasm."

"Our young guys play with enthusiasm and when you have older kids with enthusiasm, that's even better," he said recently. "Great things can be done with you play with enthusiasm. It covers up a lot of mistakes."

The Big Red coach received some very enthusiastic performances from some of his young players at Licking Valley.

Lawrence-Burke, the sophomore quarterback, ran for 82 yards and a score in addition to passing for 122. He also had two interceptions.

"He's such a big complement to that running game," Licking Valley coach Randy Baughman stated. "With his ability to slash and create plays on his own, it's hard to stop."

Herrington, a junior, caught five Lawrence-Burke passes for 68 yards. His 27-yard grab off a flea-flicker was the key play on Big Red's first scoring drive.

Jalen McGhee, just a freshman, made a few key stops for the Big Red defense.

Sophomores William Poplowski and Timmy Albertson were part of the offensive line which opened big holes for the running backs.

Keep it going:

Before the 2013 season began, Daley noted one of Central's goals was to stay in the playoffs for more than just a week (the Crusaders lost their post-season opener a season ago). Now, he states, the goal is "to keep things going."

"We have our momentum back now," he pointed out following the quarterfinal victory. "In the second half, we looked like the team that played the majority of the year.

"We have a tough opponent coming up in Trimble. I told the kids I have nothing better to do. I'm sure my wife has a lot of chores lined up for me, so I told them, let's practice another week."

Grand guys:

Brooke's Nick Ossman went over the 1,000 yard rushing mark in Friday's 48-12 loss to playoff-bound Cabell Midland.

The senior was credited with 133 stripes on 21 trips. That effort gives Ossman 1,041 for the season. He scored 12 touchdowns and averaged seven yards a tote.

Junior quarterback Aaron Walker threw for 203 and both Bruin touchdowns. Walker finished with 1,013 passing yards. Sophomore Thomas Cole was on the receiving end of six Walker aerials for 93 stripes and a score. Cole caught 28 balls on the season for 484.

Joe Staffilino wrapped up his Brooke career with four catches, good for 110 and a touchdown. The Bruins finished their season at 3-7.

11 out of 13:

Big Red is in the Ohio playoffs for the 13th straight year. Thanks to the victory at Licking Valley, Big Red stands at 11-2 in first round games during the current post-season streak.

Steubenville was one of three number eight seeds to knock off a number one in the first round of the Ohio tournament. Delphos St. John's and Doylestown Chippewa were the other eight seeds advancing.

Steubenville, however, has fallen the past two seasons in the regional semifinals. Youngstown Cardinal Mooney clipped Big Red 24-22 in 2012 and Millersburg West Holmes earned a 35-7 win last season.

Big Red's all-time playoff record now is 48-22.

Top stats:

Running wild: 254, Comis, Madonna, 21 carries, touchdown; 133, Ossman, Brooke, 21 carries; 106, Nero, Madonna, 18 carries, 2 touchdowns; 101, Jones, Catholic Central, 11 carries, 2 touchdowns; 96, Blue, Big Red, 20 carries, touchdown; 92, Hayden, Big Red, 15 carries, touchdown

Gunslingers: 203, Walker, Brooke 10 of 19, 2 scores; 176, Comis, Madonna, 10 of 14, 2 scores; 122, Lawrence-Burke, Big Red, 12 of 17; 115, Colabella, Catholic Central, 10 of 16, 2 scores

Hands team: 7, Bowser, Madonna, 122, touchdown; 6, Cole, Brooke, 93, touchdown; 5, Herrington, Big Red, 68; 4, Staffileno, Brooke, 110, touchdown; 4, Porreca, Catholic Central, 65, touchdown