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Big Red continues search for an opponent

KICKING OFF — Mike Rook and the Steubenville football team hope to find an opponent for this week. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

STEUBENVILLE — When discussing the possibility of scheduling additional games following last week’s victory over Martins Ferry, Big Red coach Reno Saccoccia simply said, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

“I told our players whoever wants to keep playing should be at the field house at 11 a.m. Saturday,” he said on Friday. “I am sure they will be here.”

The veteran coach was spot on. The turnout was great and the message was, “Let’s keep playing.”

Saccoccia predicted the task of finding a Week 10 opponent would be challenging. He started working the phones over the weekend and, as of Tuesday night, the coach’s will had yet to produce a way.

Big Red appeared to have struck a deal with Division I Solon on Monday, but that potential game fell through later in the day. So, the search continues.

“We’ll keep looking,” Saccoccia said. “Our players want a game, so we want to find them one.”

Big Red improved to 5-3 with its 43-14 defeat of Martins Ferry. The game was the first between the two successful programs since 1962. The all-time series between the schools now is tied at 14-14-2.

Last Friday’s game was quickly arranged on Thursday after both teams lost previously-scheduled opponents due to COVID-19-related issues. Big Red was going to host Stow, while Ferry had arranged a game with Beaver Local.

Steubenville had its ground attack clicking on all cylinders against the Purple Riders, collecting 447 rushing yards and all six of its touchdowns. Rodney James, Jr. went for 169 on just eight carries and scored twice. Kyjhoun Hopkins added 94 on five trips. He had a scoring run of 58 yards. Meanwhile, Spencer Ostovich contributed 83 on 11 totes and found the end zone twice.

Through eight games, Big Red is averaging 31 points per outing, 275 rushing yards and 114 through the air. It has collected 168 first downs compared to 100 for its opponents.

Ostovich continues to be the top ground gainer — 630 yards on 112 carries and nine touchdowns. James, who missed several games with an injury, has run for 590 yards on 62 trips and scored seven times.

Cade Kernahan has completed 67 passes for 860 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jared Roberts remains Big Red’s receiving leader with 14 catches for 149 yards. Brenton Jones has 11 grabs for 180 and Aaron Ferguson 11 receptions for 152 yards. Both have two receiving touchdowns.

Should things not work out for Week 10, Saccoccia has not ruled out trying to schedule a game for the first weekend of November.

“That will be up to our players to decide,” he said.

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