Ready or not, Week 10 of the high school football campaign has arrived.
The King will drop the curtain on the Ohio regular season this weekend and clear the decks for the postseason. Weir High also will close with a home game against East Liverpool while Madonna, Brooke and Oak Glen have two contests left.
As the dreaded week begins, just one unbeaten team (Madonna) remains in The Herald-Star/Daily Times coverage area. Two clubs (Madonna and Catholic Central) have secured spots in the playoffs while a third (Steubenville's battered and bruised Big Red) still has a shot.
INSTANT CLASSIC II — Weirton Madonna’s Eliott Nero scores Madonna’s first touchdown as Steubenville Catholic Central’s Khalil Jones (2) and Louis Fallon try to stop him from scoring. Madonna won, 22-17, on a touchdown late in the game.
-- Mike Mathison
Thanks to their thrilling 22-17 victory over Central in Saturday's instant classic at Jimmy Carey Stadium, the Blue Dons likely will stand alone atop the West Virginia Class A rankings. They went into the game deadlocked with St. Marys but the points earned should give Doug Taylor's crew the edge.
After six straight home games, Madonna (8-0) will close on the road at Toronto and Clay-Battelle.
Senior tailback Eliott Nero ran for 118 yards against the Crusaders to crack the 1,000 mark for the season. He has an area-best 1,111 and 14 rushing touchdowns.
Ross Comis, Madonna's outstanding senior quarterback, fought through an injury to gain 92 stripes. He now has an even 1,000 for the campaign (third best in the coverage area.)
The 8-1 Crusaders will close their regular season by hosting Magnolia (4-4) on Saturday. The Blue Eagles are ranked 17th among Class A teams in the Mountain State.
Central is third in Region 25 and appears set to host a first-round playoff game. Shadyside continues to lead the region with Glouster-Trimble second. Caldwell (7-2) currently holds the sixth spot and will close with a home game against 1-8 Shenandoah.
Brenton Colabella, Central's record-setting senior signal caller, threw for 195 yards and a score in the heart-breaking loss to Madonna. For the season, he has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,823 and 26 scores.
Despite losing three straight for the first time since the late 1970s, Big Red remains alive in the Division 13 playoff chase. Reno Saccoccia's club (5-4) currently is eighth in the standings.
Big Red will close its regular season by hosting Renaissance Christian Academy Friday. The Rising Tide (3-4) visited the Ohio Valley Saturday and left with a 32-26 victory over Wheeling Central.
Joe Eitel, Ohio's computer poll guru, shows Big Red trailing Claymont and just ahead of Bloom-Carroll. The Mustangs (6-3) finish with a home game against Maysville, also 6-3, and number four in the Region 13 standings.
Bloom Carroll (5-4) visits Teays Valley, a 3-6 Division II school.
Drew Pasteur, the other Ohio expert, has Big Red in the "needs help" category as far as a playoff berth goes. He notes six wins gives Big Red a 67 percent shot of reaching the post-season for the 13th straight year.
It was SRO:
Jimmy Carey Stadium holds approximately 3,200 people. For Saturday's Madonna-Catholic Central battle, all seats appeared to be filled. The crowd really was standing-room- only and those attending witnessed one heck of a high school football game.
Reports circulating Saturday indicated the two schools had 1,200 pre-sale tickets. Cars were rolling in well after the 7 p.m. kickoff.
Bounce back rivalry:
It is Week 10 and that means one thing in Jefferson County - Edison vs. Indian Creek.
The backyard rivals will wage their annual battle of Route 43 on Friday in Richmond.
Creek (5-4) and Edison (4-5) are coming off tough losses and will be looking to bounce back in the season finale. The Redskins were surprised by Harrison Central (49-28) while the Wildcats blew a three touchdown lead before bowing to Martins Ferry 34-21.
"We're fighters," said Edison coach Derrick Stickles following the loss. "Our kids are fighters and they're going to bounce back. If you face adversity, you get knocked down and you get back up, then you're successful. That's what we're going to do.
"We're going to correct our mistakes and we're going to bounce back."
Nolan Marcus threw for 197 and a score while running for 89 (adding two more touchdowns) in the loss. Storm Allese has six catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. Josh Pasek and Rich Springer caught four passes each.
"We have one game left at Edison and it's the biggest rival on our schedule," Creek's Andrew Connor stated. "We're gonna have to bounce back."
Jonathan Woodbury compiled 120 passing yards to pace the Redskins.
2 for 2:
Devin Ferguson, a sophomore fullback for Big Red, has a pretty good thing going when it comes to his pass receptions.
Ferguson has two on the season, both good for touchdowns. He scored against Wheeling Park on a 13-yard toss from fellow sophomore Mandela Lawrence-Burke.
4 for 5:
Brooke's Nick Ossman had the kind of game running backs dream about Friday at Weir High.
The senior had five touches, good for 225 yards and four touchdowns. He scored on runs of 70, 59, 37 and 59 yards. His other carry, the only time he hit the ground, resulted in no gain.
The Bruins, now 3-5 and winners of two straight, ran for 506 yards and seven scores in the 55-28 victory. Sophomore Justin Loughrie collected 86 on six trips and two six-pointers.
William Larch had a solid night passing the football for the Red Riders. He has 13 completions good for 178 and three scores. Jo Jo Rice caught four (51 yards and a touchdown). Clarence Bennett grabbed three for 78 and a couple of scores.
He's been waiting:
"We've been waiting for this to happen," Harrison Central coach Justin Kropka said after Friday's big win over Indian Creek. "You never know when it's going to happen."
What happened was this:
Quarterback David Miser threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 17 of 24 attempts.
Dalton Rutter had seven catches for 149 and a touchdown.
Nate Olmstead was on the receiving end of five Miser tosses for 109.
Travis Stenson ran for 62 and crossed the goal three times.
Miser now has 1,754 passing stripes (second best in the area). Olmstead leads area receivers with 39 grabs. Rutter has 38.
The victory improves Kropka's club to 4-5 but unfortunately the Huskies have been eliminated from playoff contention. Harrison closes with a road trip to Buckeye Local.
Toronto had 292 yards of offense in its 48-6 road victory at Hundred. Of that number, the Glenn brothers accounted for 236.
Senior Chez ran for 84 (six carries) and three touchdowns. He also scored via a 58-yard pass from sophomore Blaze. The younger Glenn added 36 stripes rushing (he also scored) in addition to the 58 passing.
The 5-4 Red Knights also had two punt returns for touchdowns (Charles Ross III went 60 and Chance Cossella 55).
Toronto's win was its third in four games, outscoring opponents 138-25 in those victories.
Running wild: 225, Ossman, Brooke, 5 carries, 4 touchdowns; 118, Nero, Madonna, 25 carries, touchdown; 111, Johnnie Blue, Big Red, 19 carries, touchdown; 92, Comis, Madonna, 23 carries, 2 touchdowns; 89, Marcus, Edison 24 carries, 2 touchdowns; 86, Loughrie, Brooke, 6 carries, 2 touchdowns; 84, Chez Glenn, Toronto, 6 carries, 3 touchdowns
Gunslingers: 328, Miser, Harrison Central, 17 of 24, 2 scores; 197, Marcus, Edison, 15 of 23, score; 195, Colabella, Catholic Central, 12 of 28, score; 178, Larch, Weir, 13 of 29, 3 scores; 120, Woodbury, Indian Creek, 5 of 19, score
Hands team: 7, Rutter, Harrison Central, 149, touchdown; 6, Dylan Dokes, Buckeye Local, 30; 6, Allese, Edison, 115, touchdown; 5, Olmstead, Harrison Central, 109; 4, Rice, Weir, 51; 4, Pasek, Edison, 42; 4, Springer, Edison, 32