Battle of undefeateds: Catholic Central visits Madonna

The highly anticipated Week 9 meetin’ of the unbeatens now is just a few days away.

Madonna (7-0) will welcome Catholic Central (8-0) to Jimmy Carey Stadium Saturday. The kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Blue Dons, ranked second in the West Virginia Class A computer poll, tuned up for the showdown by blasting Clarksburg Notre Dame, 75-16. The Irish entered the game as the 11th best small school in the Mountain State.

The Crusaders, on the other hand, stayed perfect by whipping Weir High 62-14. Steve Daley’s squad is the first Central team to start a season 8-0 since 1971. CCHS stands third in Region 25 of Ohio’s Division VII.

Saturday’s meeting will be the 14th between the schools. Central holds a 7-5-1 series lead. Madonna earned a 21-20 on Reno Field in 2012.

“Madonna certainly is a good football team,” Daley said following Saturday’s win over the Red Riders. “They have athletes across the board and they have nice size. We have our work cut out for us no doubt.”

Two of Madonna’s athletes (seniors Eliott Nero and Ross Comis) had huge nights in Saturday’s easy win over Notre Dame.

Nero toted the pigskin just 10 times but rolled up 204 yards. He is just seven yards shy of the 1,000 mark. Comis, the all-state senior quarterback, put up 111 rushing yards and passed for 133 more. Just for good measure, he returned an interception 42 yards for a score. He had touchdown runs of 9 yards and 1 yard.

Will Bowser grabbed six Comis passes for 90 stripes and a score.

“They (Central) are a great team,” Madonna’s Doug Taylor stated. “We scouted them twice already. They have a great offense and play good defense. They have athletes at just about every position. They’re definitely going to be a challenge for us to handle.

“There’s no doubt they will be the best team we have faced thus far and maybe the best team we’ll face all year. Coach Daley does a good job over there and he has that program on the upswing.”

Brenton Colabella, Central’s record-setting senior QB, completed 13 of 14 passes (all in the first half) against Weir for 220 yards and a pair of scores. During the first period of the Weir game, he became the second signal-caller in OVAC history to surpass the 7,000 mark for career passing.

Khalil Jones scored two touchdowns on the ground and another via a pick six. Ryan Fletcher touched the pigskin just twice but turned them both into scores. He and Colabella hooked up for an 81-yard touchdown and Fletcher also sprinted 56 stripes for another.

Stone Romano ran for 92 yards (two scores) and caught two passes (one reception producing a score). Chris Murphy caught four Colabella passes.

Madonna is averaging 485 yards per outing and 52 points. Central’s offense, on the other hand, compiles 417 and averages 51 points. Defensively, the Blue Dons surrender nine points a game while the Crusaders allow 10.75.

Right call, but

With a little more than three minutes remaining in the second quarter Friday, Ursuline quarterback Chris Durkin threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Ben Phillips. As the Irish lined up for the extra point, Big Red’s Reno Saccoccia, who was standing on the field, called a time out and began a discussion with the officials.

After a few minutes, the referee walked to the Ursuline sidelines, then returned to the middle of the field and pulled a flag from his pocket. The call? Ineligible man downfield against the Irish.

Unfortunately for the Big Red, Ursuline would score a few plays later.

Regarding the touchdown that was called back, Ursuline coach Larry Kempe told The Warren Tribune “the head official came up to me at halftime and apologized (for not throwing a flag right away).”

“Coach Reno Saccoccia is a very respected man in the coaching profession,” Kempe continued. “It was the proper call. My problem was that they did not throw a flag (until he came out).”

Showing character:

Following Friday’s heart-breaking loss to Martins Ferry, Indian Creek coach Andrew Connor made a statement that applies to several area teams.

“This is one of those games where you’ll show what kind of character you have the following week,” Connor said. “You have to put the pieces back together, have a good week of preparation and get ready for the next game.”

Creek, now 5-3, dropped a 28-21 verdict to the Purple Riders. Ferry’s winning touchdown came with just 26 seconds remaining on the clock.

The Redskins will look to bounce back when they travel to Harrison Central this week.

Big Red, also 5-3, will, in Saccoccia’s words, be working hard “to achieve its goal of getting to 6-3.” Saccoccia’s club, which has dropped two in a row and continues to battle the injury bug, will tangle with once-beaten Wheeling Park on the Island Friday.

The Red will be looking to avoid the program’s first three-game losing streak since the late 1970s.

Edison, 4-4, suffered a tough loss on the road at St. Clairsville. The Red Devils turned two Wildcat turnovers into scores.

“We just had a lot of things that went wrong and we couldn’t capitalize on the things that went right,” Edison’s Derrick Stickles stated.

The Wildcats will try to rebound when they host Ferry on Friday.

Harrison Central outgained Bellaire 259-245 but fell 28-15 to the Big Reds.

The Huskies managed to shut down the high-powered Bellaire offensive attack but continually shot themselves in the foot on offense. Harrison Central lost two fumbles and had an interception in the red zone.

“I don’t know what to do to correct them,” Huskie coach Justin Kropka said referring to the costly turnovers.

“I’m at a loss. We try to play conservative by running the ball and we fumble it. We try to put the ball in the air and we throw interceptions.”

The Huskies are 3-5 heading into their game with Creek.

“D” came through:

Buckeye Local cracked the win column for the first time this season with a 20-10 win over Hudson Western Reserve Academy Saturday.

The Panther defense came through in the clutch all night as Logan Dehnart pounced on two WRA fumbles while recording five tackles for losses among his 10 stops. Austin Flaherty recorded nine tackles.

“They deserved to win tonight,” coach Phil Pest said of his Panthers. “They played well and the coaches did a good job.”

Chase Hopkins threw for 99 yards and ran for two scores. He hit speedy wideout Brandon Panepucci for 72 stripes late in the third quarter. Hopkins then crossed the goal from 23 yards out to give Buckeye the lead for good.

Eric Banal’s leaping catch of a Hopkins pass keyed the final Buckeye scoring drive.

Pest’s gridders close the season by visiting St. Clairsville this week then entertaining Harrison Central in Week 10.

First to 1,000:

Indian Creek’s Blake Roar became the first running back in The Herald Star/ Daily Times coverage area to reach 1,000 yards for the season.

Roar collected 175 yards on 25 totes against Martins Ferry. For the season, he had 1,018 unofficially and 11 rushing touchdowns.

Madonna’s Nero (993) is seven yards shy of joining the grand club. Comis is right behind at 908. Edison’s Ethan Shannon has compiled 808. His quest for 1,000 was delayed by an ankle injury.

After the injury against St. Clairsville, Shannon was relegated to defensive duty only.

Big play scores:

Area teams put plenty of points on the board during Week 8 and most of them came via the big play. Consider the following:

Brooke’s Thomas Cole caught a 40-yard scoring strike from tailback Nick Ossman (he collected 131 yards on the ground) as the Bruins whipped Parkersburg South 41-28. Health Hildreth and Aaron Walker connected for a 61-yard touchdown. The victory snapped Brooke’s four-game losing streak.

Roar had a 52-yard TD jaunt in Creek’s loss to Ferry.

Chez Glenn found the end zone twice in Toronto’s victory over Conotton Valley. The senior speedster went 56 stripes for one score and 34 for the other.

Harrison Central quarterback David Miser lobbed the ball downfield and Nate Olmstead made a leaping grab at the 10, the spun away from the Bellaire defense before making his way to the end zone. The pass and run covered 49 yards.

Nero had touchdown runs of 60, 61 and 62 in Madonna’s win over Notre Dame. He also returned a kickoff 89 stripes for six.

Fletcher, as mentioned, scored on an 81-yard pass reception from Colabella and a 56 yard sprint. Romano motored 43 yards for one his two six-pointers.

Jonathan Rice recorded one of Weir’s two touchdowns via a 46-yard pass reception. The William Larch pass bounced off the hands of Clarence Bennett and into Rice’s arms.

Computer update:

Catholic Central remains third in the Region 25 standings and, according to computer guru Joe Eitel, has clinched a playoff spot.

The Crusaders trail Shadyside and Glouster Trimble, which has a huge game with fourth-ranked Racine Southern this Friday.

Drew Pasteur, Ohio’s other computer expert, says Central controls its own destiny when it comes to hosting a first round game.

Toronto is 17th in the region and, according to Pasteur, “needs a miracle” to reach the post-season.

Big Red fell to eighth in Region 13 following its loss to Ursuline. Indian Creek is 11th and Edison 15th. Pasteur says Big Red “controls its own destiny” while Creek and Edison “need a little help.” He further notes seven wins will put the Red into the postseason.

Saccoccia has guided Big Red to the playoffs for the past 12 seasons.

Harrison Central is 11th in Region 15.

Top stats:

Running wild: 204, Nero, Madonna, 10 carries, 3 touchdowns; 175, Roar, Indian Creek, 25 carries, touchdown; 131, Ossman, Brooke, 13 carries, 2 touchdowns; 124, C. Glenn, Toronto, 12 carries, 2 touchdowns; 111, Comis, Madonna, 12 carries, 2 touchdowns; 92, Romano, Catholic Central, 4 carries, 2 touchdowns; 83, Larch, Weir, 16 carries

Gunslingers: 220, Colabella, Catholic Central, 13 of 14, 2 scores; 147, Walker, Brooke, 10 of 12, 2 scores; 133, Comis, Madonna, 9 of 15, 2 scores; 129, Miser, Harrison Central, 10 of 25, score; 116, Larch, Weir, 7 of 25, score; 99, Hopkins, Buckeye Local, 6 of 10

Hands team: 6, Bowser, Madonna, 90, touchdown; 4, Murphy, Catholic Central, 37; 4, Dalton Rutter, Harrison Central, 53; 4, Cole, Brooke, 91, 2 touchdowns; 4, Hildreth, Brooke, 93, touchdown; 4, Josh Pasek, Edison, 52