Madonna begins its quest for the West Virginia Class A championship Saturday when Tug Valley makes the four-and-a-half hour trip from Mingo County.
Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. at the new Jimmy Carey Stadium.
The 9-1 Blue Dons, winners of eight straight, finished fourth in the Class A standings. That means Doug Taylor's club is assured of two home playoff games should it be successful against the 8-2 Panthers.
CARRYING THE BALL — Steubenville’s Dashon Redman breaks free for a big run Saturday against Maysville during Big Red’s 28-0 first-round playoff win at Harding Stadium.
-- Ron Gardner
Saturday's winner will face the survivor of Friday's battle between No. 5 St. Mary's and 12th seeded Wirt County.
Tug Valley, under coach Tony Clusky, closed its season with a 16-8 victory over Clay County. The Panthers have had a balanced offense all season long led by senior quarterback Mikey Newsome. Going into the Clay County game, he had thrown for 1,2100 yards and 17 touchdowns.
The rushing attack is led by junior David Runyon along with seniors Aaron Muncy and Jesse Mays. Through nine games, Runyon had run for 475 stripes on 95 trips. Tight end Corey Dillon leads the team in receptions.
Big Red playoff tickets on sale
STEUBENVILLE - Steubenville Big?Red's second round playoff game against West Holmes is set for 7 p.m. Saturday in New Philadelphia.
Ticket sales begin Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the high school. They are also on sale Wednesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pre-sale tickets cost $7, with tickets at the gate costing $9.
The Dons closed their regular season with an easy 40-2 victory over previously unbeaten Clay-Battelle. Madonna finished with three backs rushing for more than 100 yards.
Ross Comis led the way with 150 rushing stripes and two touchdowns. He also pitched a perfect game from his quarterback spot, hitting five of five passes for 38 stripes and two more scores. For the season, the junior has run for 1,277 yards and thrown for 982.
Elliott Nero toted the ball 12 times for 106 and Nick Ossman added 105 on 15 tries.
Meanwhile, the Madonna defense held the Cee Bees to just 90 total yards of offense. Through 10 games, the Dons are allowing 10.2 points an outing.
Wheeling Central finished 10th in the Class A standings and will open defense of its state championship Saturday at East Hardy. This game also is slated for a 1:30 p.m. start
Wheeling Park qualified for the Class AAA playoffs and will visit Spring Valley Friday.
In search of 48
Big Red will be seeking its 48th all-time playoff victory Saturday when it tangles with 10-1 Millersburg West Holmes at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium in New Philadelphia.
Kickoff for the Division III Region 11 semifinal battle is set for 7 p.m.
Big Red improved its postseason record to 47-21 by blanking Maysville 28-0. Meanwhile West Holmes registered its fifth tournament victory via 35-7 triumph over Indian Creek.
The Steubenville defense was outstanding, holding the Panthers to just 70 yards of offense. Meanwhile, Big Red rolled to 284 on the ground and 137 through the air.
Dashon Redman accounted for 129 stripes on 14 carries while Donte Brown added 115 on 13 attempts. Corey Stinson completed 10 of 17 passes, hitting Matt Petrella and Eric Robinson for touchdowns.
As advertised, West Holmes did most of its offensive damage on the ground. The Knights ran 49 times for 299 yards and four scores. Layne Perrone racked up 194 stripes on 24 carries. Perrone established school records this season for yardage and touchdowns.
They are family
The loss to West Holmes ended an outstanding season for Indian Creek. The Redskins finished 9-2 and earned back-to-back playoff berths.
Alex Young wrapped up his career by throwing for 134 yards and a score. He added 27 stripes on the ground. He is part of a senior class that won 17 games in its final two seasons.
"A lot of teams talk about family, but these 18 seniors are a family," coach Andrew Connor said following the quarterfinal loss. "It just pulls at my gut that they won't be around anymore. What they've done for this program just goes without saying. They taught us how to do well. They led us to back-to-back playoff berths."
Catholic Central's first winning season since 2007 came to a close Friday via a 49-24 loss to top-seeded Mogadore in the Region 21 quarterfinals.
Steve Daley's club finished at 6-5, three of the losses coming by a total of six points.
Brenton Colabella ended his junior season with another great showing, passing for 302 yards and three touchdowns. For the season, he threw for 2,484 stripes and 28 touchdowns.
He now holds five school passing records. Colabella's marks include:
Most passing yards in a single game, 369.
Most passing yards in a single season, 2,484.
Most career passing yards, 5,513 (he still has a full season to go).
Most touchdown passes in a single season, 28.
Most career touchdown passes, 53.
Colabella's favorite target, senior Zack Herrington, will leave the Central program with four receiving records. They are:
Receptions in a season, 52 (previous record was 42).
Receiving yardage in a season, 832 (old mark was 787).
Receptions in a game, 13 (former high was 11).
Career receptions, 103 (surpassing the past record of 80).
In the loss to Mogadore, Herrington grabbed 13 Colabella aerials for 134 and a touchdown. Kyle Laukert grabbed nine for 89 and a score. Ryan Fletcher hauled in seven for 67 and a six-pointer while Michael Carapellotti caught four for 33.
Laukert had 39 receptions on the season, Fletcher 31 and Carapellotti 23.
Herrington, Laukert and Carapellotti were three of the nine seniors on the 2012 Crusader squad.
"They (the seniors) worked hard and put everything on the line," Daley said. "They are going to be missed."
End of the line
Friday's loss to St. Clairsville in the Division IV playoffs ended the marvelous season and career of Harrison Central's Maurtice Hython. He did manage to rush for 112 yards on 22 carries before leaving the game with a leg injury.
For the season, Hython compiled 1,890 yards and scored 19 touchdowns.
Hython and the other Huskie seniors wrapped up their playing days with a strong 7-4 record.
"Each year you coach, it gets a little tougher because you're that much closer with the kids," Justin Kropka said of his senior class. "It's always heart-breaking but, at the end of the day, they'll be the first class to leave Harrison Central with two playoff appearances to their credit."
Cradle of coaches
Five Catholic Central graduates turned head football coaches took their teams to the first round of the Ohio playoffs over the weekend.
Unfortunately, just one (Reno Saccoccia) survived the opening weekend as Big Red blanked Maysville 28-0.
Daley and his Crusaders fell to Mogadore in Division VI play while Connor and his Indian Creek Redskins were eliminated by Millersburg West Holmes in Division III action.
Dan Bjelac guided his Columbus Bishop Watterson squad to a 7-3 regular season finish. The Eagles dropped a 41-24 verdict Bryan Saturday in the Division III tournament.
In his second season at Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas, former Crusader Mike Orlando led the Rockets to a 7-3 record and a berth in the D III playoffs. The Rockets lost by two (37-35) to Gallipolis Gallia.
McNicholas captured the championship in the Greater Catholic League Central Division.
Meanwhile, Jason Windon, another Central graduate and the former Crusader wrestling coach, is on the staff at Mogadore, which will meet Berlin Western Reserve in the semifinals.
Wheels on the bus
The wheels on the bus, at least the chartered one, didn't go round and round for the Catholic Central football team Friday. Daley made arrangements for his Crusaders to travel in style to Mogadore.
Unfortunately, there was a little confusion on the part of the bus company. Turns out, the firm had reserved a bus for Saturday, not Friday.
So, Daley contacted Fred Heatherington, Big Red's athletic director, and city school buses were quickly dispatched to transport the Crusaders to Summit County.
Running wild: 150, Comis, Madonna, 2 touchdowns; 129, Redman, Big Red, touchdown; 115, D. Brown, Big Red, touchdown; 112, Hython, Harrison Central, touchdown; 106, Nero, Madonna, touchdown; 105, Ossman, Madonna, touchdown.
Gunslingers: 302, Colabella, Central, 33 of 52, 3 scores; 137, Stinson, Big Red, 10 of 17, 2 scores; 134, Young, Indian Creek, 9 of 25, score.
Hands team: 13, Herrington, Central, 134, touchdown; 9, Laukert, Central, 89, touchdown; 7, Fletcher, Central, 67, touchdown; 5, Petrella, Big Red, 79, touchdown; 4, Carapellotti, Central, 33; 3, Pelegreen, Harrison Central, 13; 3, Weltner, Oak Glen, 48.