Red and black were dominant colors
CANTON — The attendance for Big Red’s 50-36 victory over Clarksville Clinton-Massie in the Ohio Division IV championship game was 10,251, and it certainly appeared that red and black were the most popular colors inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
“We have great, great fans,” coach Reno Saccoccia said during his post-game press conference. “We sold 2,500 tickets by Thursday. The fan support we receive is unbelievable.”
When asked what the program’s fourth championship means to Steubenville, Saccoccia had plenty to say.
“Steubenville is a community that has been butchered the last five years, but we fought back,” he stressed. “We knew what was right and we knew what was wrong. We stayed the course as a community.
“We’re going to have a great Christmas in Steubenville this year.”
Saccoccia further stressed the importance of leadership particularly as it relates to the Steubenville school system.
“I told our guys after the game, there are no great programs without great leadership,” he said. “We have a great superintendent, a great principal and a great board of education.”
Saccoccia is particularly proud of the rising numbers his program has experienced in recent years.
“From 2008-2012 we had between 55 and 60 kids on our teams,” he said. “For the last four years, we’ve had more than 70. We have 70 kids who want to be part of something special, we’re not great but we are special.
“We’re special because we stick together. The hard work our kids have put in and the attitudes they have are both fantastic. These guys want to win so badly and they want to win as a team.”
A Canton booster:
After calling Ohio Stadium in Columbus home for the last three years, the OHSAA football finals returned to Canton this year will all games played inside the new Benson stadium.
As far as Saccoccia is concerned, the OHSAA made the right move returning the games to Stark County.
“It’s a beautiful place, a great facility and I understand it’s now even finished yet,” he said. “Canton is great, the whole area is great for football. The Canton-Massillon area is the mecca of football, period.
“I feel great that we were able to win a championship in Canton.”
Big Red is now 4-5 all-time in state title games. Steubenville has a 1-4 record in Columbus, 1-1 in Canton and 2-0 in Massillon. Big Red holds the distinction of having won state championships in three divisions (II, III and IV).
Construction is ongoing at Benson stadium. More seating will be added and a hotel will be built on site. Renovations to the 23,000-seat facility carry a price tag of $137 million.
Tying a record:
Big Red’s 50 points tied the record for most points scored in a Division IV title game. Versailles also got to 50 against Bellaire in the 1995 game played in Massillon.
Additionally, the 86 combined points scored is tied for sixth all-time in all divisions for points scored in a championship contest. It equals the 2000 Youngstown Ursuline win over Coldwater 49-37.
Versailles and Bellaire combined for 94 points in 1995 to lead Division IV.
The 50 points scored by Steubenville were the most give up by a Clinton-Massie team since the 2007 regional final when it allowed 63 to Coldwater.
Steubenville’s name appears all over the “streaks and superlatives” section of the official OHSAA championship program.
As of the 2017 playoffs, Big Red ranks in the following categories:
¯ Playoff appearances: Big Red has 30 which is fifth best (Newark Catholic leads with 35).
¯ Playoff wins: Big Red now has 66, which again is fifth best (Newark Catholic and Cleveland St. Ignatius are tied with 72).
¯ Playoff winning percentage: Big Red now has an all-time record of 66-24, a winning percentage of .733 which is 11th best. Maria Stein Marion Local is 72-10 for an all-time best winning percentage of .878.
¯ Most OHSAA state semifinal appearances: Big Red is second to Newark Catholic with 18. The Green Wave has 25.
¯ Most OHSAA state championship game appearances: Big Red now has nine, which ties it with Versailles for sixth. Newark Catholic also leads this category with 14.
¯ Playoff streaks: Big Red has been in the playoffs for 17 straight seasons, tying it with Kettering Bishop Alter for sixth best all-time. Cleveland St. Ignatius has made the post-season 22 consecutive years.
¯ Big Red now has four state titles, putting in a group along with Columbus Bishop Hartley and Youngstown Ursuline.
Clinton-Massie, which finished at 13-2, has qualified for the playoffs 16 consecutive seasons (Big Red has qualified for 17 straight years). During the stretch, the Falcons are 174-27, scoring 50 or more points 48 times.
Before losing to Goshen on Oct. 13, Clinton-Massie had won 61 consecutive games in the South Central Ohio league. In the last 12 seasons of league plays, the Falcons are 74-2.
Clinton-Massie’s Garrett Trampler ran his way into the OHSAA record book during Saturday’s loss to Big Red.
After Big Red pushed the score to 27-7, Trampler returned the ensuing kick 72 yards for a touchdown. Thus, he became the first player to return a kickoff for a touchdown in Division IV state title game history.
Inside the stats:
Big Red ran 59 plays in the title game and gained 464 yards, 251 on the ground and 213 through the air. The winners held the football for 25:39 compared to 22:21 for C-M.
The Falcons had 46 offensive snaps for 233 yards, just 114 rushing and 119 through the air.
Big Red was 4 of 10 on third down conversions and 1 of 3 on fourth down. C-M converted 2 of 8 third down tries and was 1 of 4 on fourth down conversions.
Both teams were highly efficient once they moved the football into the red zone. Big Red scored on 3 of 4 visits while the Falcons came away with points on 4 of their 5 trips.
Lots of athletes:
Clinton-Massie coach Dan McSurley said his Falcons had some major “matchup issues” with Big Red.
“They had athletes galore,” he said. “It was a matchup issue for us. I’ve done this for 32 years and you know when there are matchup issues. Sometimes the matchups just don’t work for you.
“They were big up front, probably the biggest line we’ve seen.”
McSurley also made mention of the difference in coaching staffs between the two schools.
“They have 21 coaches and I have three paid assistants and three volunteers,” he said.
Information about the Big Red program in the OHSAA program lists all the coaches associated with the program from high school to junior high.
Three for four:
Four of the seven teams that won Associated Press poll championships advanced to the state finals and three, Big Red in Division IV, Trotwood-Madison in Division II and Marion Local in Division VI, captured state titles on the field.
Pemberville Eastwood won the AP Division V crown but lost over the weekend in overtime to Wheelersburg, which finished third in the AP standings.
For those of you who already miss high school football, here’s a little good news:
The 2018 season starts on Aug. 24.