Madonna eager, hungry to get season under way

WEIRTON — Chomping at the bit is how second-year Madonna coach Darrin Hicks described his team as it prepares for its season opener at 7 p.m. Saturday at Tuscarawas Central Catholic in New Philadelphia.

The Blue Dons have been practicing since August 1 and are eager to hit someone besides themselves and a couple of scrimmage teams.

“We’re excited,” Hicks said. “That bye week in Week 1 actually came at a very good time. I wouldn’t have said that a month ago, but it gave us an opportunity to get through some bumps and bruises and do a lot of things we needed to clean up some stuff.”

The week off gave Hicks an opportunity to see Tusky Central in action last week against one of the better Catholic football programs in Western Pennsylvania. Tusky fell in the opener, 26-13.

The Saints have a solid, well-coached team, according to Hicks.

“They have some good athletes with some weapons, especially at receiver,” he added. “They have a dynamic quarterback and are solid up front.”

Hicks described the Saints linemen as not being “huge” with the tackles, ranging about 215 pounds and the center at 225.

“Tusky uses a multiple offense, and they can run and throw,” Hicks said. “I would say they are quicker than fast.”

The Saints crushed Madonna 56-6 last year at Jimmy Carey Stadium.

Hicks said the Saints use a three-down front this year and those lineman “have tremendous motors.” He added that they have a good group of linebackers behind them, and the defensive backs are strong and athletic. The Saints had two interceptions against Greensburg CC.

Blue Don junior Gavin Dietrich won the starting nod at quarterback. JuniorDonavan Kirby will be at running back along with Vince Pulice and Hunter Baird, both seniors.

Hicks said three seniors (Chase Smith, Jimmy DiMarco and Chayce Lemley) will rotate at tight end. Ryan Ekey moved from tight end where he started last year to center with Robby Valenti, Zak Tokash, Mac Raymond and Max Fiedorczyk on the interior line.

Those same linemen, along with Kirby, will be on the defensive front. Tokash and Josh Gasvoda will line up as inside linebackers with Chase Smith as one of the outside linebackers. Hunter Baird will be the safety and Dietrich and Lemley will be the corner backs.

“We expect to play a lot of guys while rotating the younger guys in,” Hicks said. “We’ll have our hands full with the Tusky 3-4 defense. They are aggressive and athletic.

“But we’re eager to go. It was good to begin preparing for Tusky Central this week as we get into the regular season routines. We had a good practice Monday as we began the preparations and the way it went showed that it is a mark of a team beginning to mature and move in the right direction.”