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Question arises after prep football kickoff

BEHIND THE MASK — Toronto head coach Josh Franke watches his Red Knights battle against rival Edison on Friday. -- Joe Catullo

STEUBENVILLE — So I have a question for you to ponder as we review Week 1 (at least in Ohio) of the 2020 high school football season.

Were there any losers?

The scoreboard said yes; there were plenty. However, when all was said and done and Game Day or Game Day 2.0 since many schools moved openers to Saturday or finished contests then came and went, were there?

Big Red’s Reno Saccoccia, who is in his 50th season of high school coaching, may have said it best.

“I just want to congratulate both teams and every player who played on Friday in Ohio,” Saccoccia said after his Big Red went on the road and whipped Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, 40-13. “They all worked their tails off all summer not knowing if they were ever going to play a game. But, they got to play tonight and I want to congratulate them.”

Well said, coach Sac.

By show of hands, how many thought a month or so ago that high school football will move forward in Ohio and/or West Virginia? Personally, I was not counting on seeing any games this fall.

The weekend that many of us thought might never happen is behind us. Scores were kept, big plays were made and the minefield that is COVID-19 was successfully navigated.

Anyway, back to my question. If you still disagree, consider this quote from Massillon Jackson coach Tim Budd.

“The COVID situation has changed the perspective of all this for me,” he said. “If the kids get the chance to compete and play, it’s a win. Just think of the spring athletes that never got the chance to compete.

“Playing games would be a validation of all the hard work they’ve put in since, really January. It’s never been guaranteed.”

The only real constant this season has been uncertainty. There’s no doubt that will continue week in and week out.

“Our players and coaches did a great job of adjusting to everything. It is as if we have two opponents every week,” Saccoccia said prior to the Mooney game. “We are not only playing Mooney in the opener but we are also playing against COVID-19. Going forward, we will be preparing for two opponents week in and week out.”

Here’s hoping area schools will stay well prepared and the season will move forward.

Big Play Guys

Big plays were a big part of opening week. Consider the following:

≤ Harrison Central junior James Brooks scored three touchdowns in Friday’s win over Catholic Central. He returned the opening kick 81 yards for a score. He later would race 78 and 80 yards for 6-pointers. Brooks carried the football just four times, gaining 200 yards in the process.

≤ Indian Creek’s Sam Coleman took a Cambridge kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. He also hooked up with quarterback David Ferroni for a 64-yard score. Coleman finished with five receptions for 113 yards.

≤ Big Red sophomores Spencer Ostovich and Darian Thorne may never forget their first varsity football carries. Both covered 61 yards. Ostovich turned his into a touchdown, which put Steubenville ahead, 21-6. He burst up the middle and raced untouched to the end zone. Thorne almost joined Ostovich in reaching pay dirt. Unfortunately, he was dragged down at the 1-yard line.

≤ Toronto’s JoJo Savage showed off his speed, racing 80 yards for a score with an Edison kickoff. The Wildcats earned a 31-19 victory in the rivalry contest. One of the Edison scores came on a 42-yard pass from Gage Cline to Tremendous West. The reception was West’s first as a Wildcat.

≤ A key contributor in Edison’s victory was freshman kicker Mason Montgomery. He nailed all four of his conversion attempts and boosted a 23-yard field goal.

Getting Started

The West Virginia schools in The Herald-Star/Daily Times coverage area will launch their seasons this weekend.

Oak Glen, coming off a record-setting season, will open with a tough one on the road at Point Pleasant. Brooke, which returns 18 starters, is set to entertain Hedgesville.

Frank Sisinni will make his Weir High coaching debut when the Red Riders host John Marshall. New Madonna coach Dan Rovira and his Blue Dons open Friday against Wahama. That game will start at 7 p.m. Friday and will be played at East-West Stadium in Fairmont.

Central Tickets

Catholic Central will play its home opener Saturday when River visits Harding Stadium. The Pilots fell to Bellaire, 28-14, in their initial game.

Central will be selling season tickets from today through Thursday in the school cafeteria. Tickets will be sold from 5-7 p.m. today, 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, 6-8 p.m. Wednesday and 5-7 p.m. Thursday.

The price is $28 per seat for all regular season home games. Seating, of course, is limited due to COVID-19 regulations. They will be assigned on a first come, first service basis.

First Of Two

Big Red has just two home games on its revised regular schedule. The pass-happy Dover Tornadoes will invade Harding Stadium. The contest will be the 24th all-time between the schools, Big Red holding an 18-4-1 series lead.

Dover launched its season with a 19-10 victory over Louisville.

Saccoccia and Co. then will host Linsly before traveling to New Philadelphia, Wheeling Park and Austintown Fitch.

All In

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all Ohio schools will qualify for the playoffs this season. Schools must inform the OHSAA of their intention to participate in the playoffs by Sept. 17. New playoff regions will be drawn on Sept. 18, but divisional assignments will not change. Schools, however, can withdraw from the playoffs without penalty until Sept. 24.

All playoff contests through the regional semifinals and possibly the regional finals will be hosted by the higher seeded team. Playoff games will be held on Friday and Saturday nights beginning Oct. 9-10.

The OHSAA has said the number of playoff rounds will be dependent upon the number of schools entering the playoffs in each region. It is expected that the state championship games will be held Nov. 13/14 and/or Nov. 20-21. Schools eliminated from the playoffs or that choose not to enter have the option to schedule additional regular season games through Nov. 14.

Top Stats

Running wild

200, James Brooks, Harrison Central, 2 touchdowns

115, Rodney James, Big Red, 2 touchdowns

77, Spencer Ostovich, Big Red, touchdown

Gunslingers

163, Kobe Mitchell, Harrison Central, 5 of 9, 2 scores

153, David Ferroni, Indian Creek, 8 of 17, score

80, Cade Kernahan, Big Red, 8 of 18, 2 scores

Hands team

5, Sam Coleman, Indian Creek, 113, touchdown

3, Matt Schaefer, Indian Creek, 40

2, Trevor Carman, Harrison Central, 60, touchdown

2, Shane Keenan, Toronto, 59

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