Four area teams will be in action this weekend when the 2012 Ohio football playoffs begin.
Meanwhile, Madonna will close its regular season with a home game that will go a long way toward determining where the Blue Dons finish in the West Virginia Class A ranks.
Madonna moved to 8-1 thanks to its 48-6 win over Toronto at Jimmy Carey Stadium. The win set the stage for a red letter date with unbeaten Clay-Battelle.
ON THE MOVE — Steubenville Big Red’s Michael?Jett runs the ball during Friday’s win over Akron Buchtel. Big Red hosts Zanesville Maysville at 7 p.m. Saturday.
-- Ron Gardner
RUNNING TOWARD PLAYOFFS — Weirton Madonna’s Garrett Hypes runs back a kickoff return during Saturday’s win over Toronto. The Blue Dons host Clay-Battelle at 7 p.m. Friday.
-- Mike Mathison
The Blue Dons were ranked fifth in the latest West Virginia Class A computer standings and the Cee Bees were right behind. The game, originally scheduled for Saturday, was moved to Friday with a 7 p.m. kickoff in order to make things easier for playoff pairings.
Ross Comis had his usual stellar game for Doug Taylor's squad, rushing for 174 yards and two scores on just seven carries. He also hit on 8 of 12 passes for another 86 stripes and a pair of touchdowns.
The junior quarterback is closing in on a double-double (1,000 yards rushing and passing). His performance against Toronto gives him 1,127 yards on the ground (second best in The Herald Star/Daily Times coverage area). He has thrown for 944.
Big Red selling tickets
STEUBENVILLE - Big Red is selling tickets for Saturday's 7 p.m. playoff game against Zanesville Maysville at Harding Stadium from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to noon Friday at the ticket office.
Tickets are $7 presale and $9 at the gate.
Elliott Nero, Madonna's junior running back, caught a 15-yard swing pass from Comis for a touchdown. It was a pretty good way for Nero to celebrate his 17th birthday.
Madonna's defense, the stingiest unit in the area, stifled the Red Knight offense, allowing just 60 yards rushing and 23 passing.
"Our defense keeps getting better and better every week," Taylor said. "We put a lot of time into it. We try to get our best athletes out there on the defensive side of the football."
The Blue Don defense will get a stern test Friday against a Clay-Battelle offense that averages 43 points an outing.
Big Red earned the right to host a Division III, Region 11 first round contest thanks to its 21-18 come-from-behind victory over Akron Buchtel. Reno Saccoccia's club (8-2) will entertain Zanesville Maysville (9-1) Saturday. Kickoff at Harding Stadium is set for 7 p.m.
The Panthers, who will be playing their first postseason game in school history, compete in the North Division of the Muskingum Valley League. They own victories over Columbus Academy, John Glenn, New Lexington, West Muskingum, Crooksville, Coshocton, Thornville Sheridan, Philo and Morgan. The lone blemish is a 47-7 setback to unbeaten Dresden Tri-Valley.
Big Red, which is 46-21 in the playoffs with three state titles, finished third in the region behind Alliance Marlington and Millersburg West Holmes. Dover was fourth, Granville fifth, Indian Creek seventh and Poland eighth. The trip to the playoffs is the 12th straight for Saccoccia's gridders.
Dashon Redman continued his impressive late-season showing, rushing for 180 yards on 35 trips and a touchdown. On Big Red's 10-play, 77-yard scoring drive that started late in the third quarter, Redman toted the rock eight times for 71 yards. He powered his way in from a yard out for the score then ran for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 18.
He then carried the ball seven times for 37 yards to help set up Luke Smith's game-winning field goal. During Big Red's final three regular season games, Redman had compiled 411 rushing stripes.
"I think every team has to start over every year, even if you have a bunch of players back they might not have the same attitude," Saccoccia said following the battle with Butchel. "Every team starts from scratch every year. We started from scratch and we had a lot of adversity to deal with and overcome."
Fresh off its 53-18 victory over Edison in the Route 43 Bowl, Indian Creek will travel to Millersburg Saturday for its Region 11 opener.
Indian Creek also clinched the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 5A championship with its victory over the Wildcats.
The Redskins and the Knights will match 9-1 marks.
West Holmes, a member of the Ohio Cardinal League, reeled off victories over Clear Fork, Wooster and Lexington after suffering a 40-29 loss to Mansfield in Week 7. The Knights also have defeated Triway, River View, Coshocton, Mansfield Madison, Ashland and Orrville.
"They're a well-coached football team," Creek's Andrew Connor said of West Holmes. "One big thing is they like to run the football. They have some big kids. We have our work cut out for us, but we think the Buckeye 8 has prepared us."
Connor's squad will be making its second straight trip to the postseason. A win Saturday will give the Redskins their first win in the playoffs and their first 10-win season in school history.
Alex Young had another stellar night against Edison, completing 8 of 12 passes for 116 yards and four touchdowns. Frank Kamarec hauled in five Young aerials for 81 stripes and two scores. Blake Roar ran for 84 yards on just eight tries.
The 7-3 Harrison Central Huskies are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and will travel to St. Clairsville Friday for a second 2012 battle with the unbeaten and top-seeded Red Devils.
Justin Kropka's crew, which lost at Dover in its last playoff appearance, fell to St. Clairsville 42-6 in Week 5. Kickoff for the Division IV Region 15 clash is 7:30 p.m.
"When you get into the postseason, you're playing with other people's money," Kropka said following his team's 49-6 win over Buckeye Local. "We'll play whoever they give us."
Maurtice Hython and Rasheen Mitchell both had big nights against the Panthers. Hython rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Through 10 weeks, he has 1,803 rushing stripes and 19 scores. Mitchell hit on 5 of 6 passes for 112 and a couple of touchdowns.
Despite its loss on the road at Magnolia, Catholic Central qualified for the Division VI Region 21 playoffs. The 6-4 Crusaders are back in the postseason for the first time since 2007 when they fell to Shadyside. Steve Daley's club finished eighth, meaning it must go on the road Friday to face Mogadore. The Wildcats are a perfect 10-0. The Crusaders earned a 35-13 win over Mogadore in the 2005 playoffs.
"This is a great opportunity for our kids," Daley said. "It's the start of a new season and it's something that we worked really hard to achieve. We are going to try to value each second of the experience."
Weir High's 41-12 loss at East Liverpool completed only the third winless season for the Red Riders in their 89-year history. The other two seasons without a win came in 1990 and 1999.
In the game against the Potters, Weir had more than half of the 22 starting positions filled by freshmen and sophomores. Tony Filberto, in his first year back with the Red Riders, said following the game the future is bright for his team.
"We hope this experience for these young guys will convert into something positive," he noted.
Running wild: 180, Redman, Big Red, touchdown; 174, Comis, Madonna, two touchdowns; 147, Hython, Harrison Central, touchdown; 84, Roar, Indian Creek, touchdown; 73, Nolan Marcus, Edison, touchdown.
Gunslingers: 116, Young, Indian Creek, 8 of 12, four scores; 113, Mitchell, Harrison Central, 5 of 6, two scores; 96, Buchmelter, Brooke, 11 of 25; 90, Nolan Marcus, Edison, 5 of 17, two scores; 86, Comis, Madonna, 8 of 12, two scores.
Hands team: 5, Kamarec, Indian Creek, 81, 2 touchdowns; 4, Kai McClurg, Big Red, 12; 4, Raleigh Mason, Brooke, 21.