If only there was a way to slow down the clock this time of year. It seems that whenever the high school football season rolls around (the fastest 10 weeks of the year), time just flies.
Week 1 of the campaign is in the books. Now, area coaches are focused on making their teams better. The practices between Weeks 1 and 2 are critical, since teams generally show their biggest improvement during that time span.
As Doug Taylor, Madonna's head coach, pointed out following his team's 47-13 victory over Beallsville "we'll work on some things and we'll get better next week."
LEADING THE WAY — Steubenville’s Donte Brown looks for someone to block as he leads quarterback Mandela Lawrence-Burke on a rollout during the first half of Big Red’s win over Cleveland JFK to open the season at Harding Stadium. Big Red, who made it to the Division IV state semifinals a year ago, will host Cincinnati Glen Este at 7 p.m. Friday.
"We're happy with the win, but there are a lot of things we need to improve on," he continued. "You usually see your biggest improvement between Week 1 and Week 2 and we've got a lot of things to work on this week. Next week will tell what kind of team we'll have for the remainder of the year."
Toronto's Eric Meek called the time frame "a big week to make improvements."
"We're going to get better," Meek noted after his Red Knights dropped their season opener to Wellsville. "We got beat up front and missed some tackles. We didn't connect in our passing game. They shut our run down. We're not going to give up, we're going to keep our heads up and get back at it. No sense of feeling sorry for ourselves."
Mac McLean, the first-year boss at Brooke, knows his Bruins have "to protect the ball."
"That's something that has come out in scrimmages and opening night," he commented. "We've got to take better care of the ball. That's what cost us the game (Brooke fell 9-8 to Indian Creek in McLean's debut), not protecting the ball. We'll focus on that next week in practice."
Brooke fumbled the pigskin three times in its opener, losing two.
"You're always looking to improve from week to week," said Edison coach Derrick Stickles. "The week between Games 1 and 2 is extremely important. We lost a heartbreaker but I know our kids will show up Monday ready to work. We'll just move on and try to get better."
The Wildcats fell to Oak Glen 17-14 thanks to a 22-yard field goal by Golden Bear freshman Collin Williams. He split the uprights as time expired Saturday at Jimmy Carey Stadium.
Andrew Connor, the veteran Indian Creek grid mentor, stated his Redskins will be working to improve on "the little things" this week.
"We need to just focus on doing a better job," he noted. "We have to avoid making mistakes as work to continue improving."
Big Red's Reno Saccoccia will be focused on "getting a set lineup and sticking with that."
"We tried to play too many kids tonight," he commented after Thursday's 49-12 triumph over Cleveland John F. Kennedy. "I think I might have overdone it. We had 42 kids in the game with five minutes left in the second quarter. You're not going to be on all cylinders when that happens. I think I subbed too early."
Homecoming of sorts:
Christopher Hubbard, the first-year head coach at Cleveland JFK, had a homecoming of sorts when the Fighting Eagles invaded Harding Stadium.
Hubbard, who spent the past nine years as a JFK assistant, has several family members in the Wintersville area.
"I came down here to visit just about every summer," he said. "It was actually pretty cool to return and see the place."
The visit to Harding Stadium wasn't Hubbard's first. He actually was the starting JFK quarterback during the 1993 season. Big Red pinned a 48-20 loss on the Eagles during Week 2 of that campaign.
"I've been here before so I am familiar with the atmosphere," he noted. "I just wanted my players to be competitive and fight."
When asked about the previous contest, Hubbard smiled and responded "we got jumped on a little bit when I was a quarterback."
"We definitely were able to score a little faster tonight then when I played 21 years ago," he noted.
He's no fan
Friday nights during the high school football season now have a new twist thanks to the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Back in May, the OHSAA Board of Directors approved a football point differential rule. The rule states that after the first half, a running clock will be used if one team has a lead of 30 points or more.
"It was several years of looking at lopsided games. It's been a good four or five years that people have brought this up," said Beau Rugg, the OHSAA's assistant commissioner in charge of football, when discussing the rule.
A main factor in the OHSAA's decision was keeping players safe.
"There are lots of issues from lopsided games. There are potential injuries and potential sportsmanship problems. We looked for what we could put into place to make it a better environment," Rugg said.
He added the clock will still stop after an official's timeout, score, end of period, or charged timeout.
Big Red fans had the opportunity to experience the new rule Thursday. Dimitri Collaros' 19-yard touchdown pass to Paul Runkle put the Red up 43-12 midway through the third period.
When discussing the rule with reporters following the contest, Saccoccia quickly noted "I don't like the mercy rule."
"I feel that most coaches in Ohio and most coaches period don't run the score up," Saccoccia stated. "They (JFK) played all their kids and we played all of our kids. We played 25 freshmen tonight. The younger kids got a chance to play in front of people. That opportunity comes few and too far between."
No rest for the D:
Several local teams might need a little extra time with defensive drills as they prep for some high-powered offenses in Week 2.
Cincinnati Glen Este will travel to Steubenville for its first-ever meeting with Big Red after spanking Batavia Amelia 56-14.
Wheeling Central exploded for 54 points in its opener against Clarksburg Notre Dame (the final was 54-21.
Catholic Central will travel to Wheeling Island Stadium Saturday to test the Maroon Knights. Wheeling Central collected 585 yards of offense in the victory.
Edison will visit a Carrollton team that rung up 44 points on East Liverpool in its opener. And Brooke welcomes Morgantown to Memorial Stadium Friday. The Mohigans scored 41 in their Week 1 victory.
Moving too fast?
Following Thursday's season opener, Big Red's Saccoccia made some interesting observations about today's youth and their drive to succeed
"I'm finding out more and more that kids set high expectations on themselves and their team," he said. "Kids today expect to succeed and at times, they want to succeed too fast.
"We talked about that at halftime. We talked about sharing the ball and about how everyone needs to block and tackle."
Saccoccia also pointed out his program is following some advice once handed down by former NFL coach George Allen.
"When he working for the president, he said you have to get up every morning ready to fight," the veteran coach said. "That's what we preach now.
"Some of the success we had last year has increased expectations this year. But we also had a lot of disappointments last year too.
"It's been a long time since we lost three games in a row."
Kameron Davis recorded the football-version of a hat trick in Weir's 33-20 victory over Catholic Central in the nightcap of the Clash at the Carey.
The senior found the end zone from three yards out to start the Red Rider scoring. He followed that with his first of two interceptions, taking it 20 yards to the house.
Davis' final score came via a 23-yard pass from William Larch. Davis finished with 69 rushing stripes and 37 yards on two receptions.
The victory was Weir's first in a season opener in six years.
185, Joey Ewusiak, Madonna, 3 touchdowns
177, Ethan Shannon, Edison, 2 touchdowns
136, Michael Puorro, Indian Creek
100, William Larch, Weir
80, Justin Loughrie, Brooke
273, Chase Hartley, Oak Glen, 18 of 29, score
258, Larch, Weir, 13 of 25, two scores
219, Mandela Lawrence-Burke, Big Red, 9 of 14, three scores
204, Zach Arbogast, Harrison Central, 13 of 22, score
179, Blaze Glenn, Toronto, 13 of 28
134, Ewusiak, Madonna, 6 of 13, 3 scores
134, Collin Skeeles, Edison, 18 of 29
100, Tony Barber, Catholic Central, 6 of 19, score
9, Cyle Perez, Oak Glen, 79
7, Giovanni Rocchi, Harrison Central, 150, touchdown
6, Carter Andreozzi, Edison, 25
5, Micah Swiger, Oak Glen, 77, touchdown
4, Ma'Lik Richmond, Big Red, 105, touchdown
4, Charles Ross III, Toronto, 51
4. Robert Daley, Edison, 18