Crusaders buckling down on defense for South Harrison

TOUCHDOWN RUN — Steubenville Catholic Central’s Dom Argentine rushes for a touchdown past Oak Glen’s Michael Lemley on Sept. 2. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

LOST CREEK — Steve Daley and his Catholic Central football team will face a major challenge Friday when they make the two and a half hour bus trip to Lost Creek for a date with unbeaten South Harrison at 7 p.m.

The Hawks, coached by Brad Jett, are currently tied for fifth in the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission Class A poll. South Harrison opened with a 28-12 victory over Doddridge County, then blanked Pine Grove Valley 40-0.

Jett’s club was idle last week.

“They are a very good football team,” Daley said. “They have three studs in Freddy Canary and the Barnette brothers (Cam and Brenten).”

Canary, a 5-11, 185-pound senior, has amassed eight West Virginia state track championships and set state records in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter sprints. He is considered the fastest high school athlete in the state. In two games, the South Harrison tailback has compiled 354 rushing yards on 34 carries and scored six touchdowns.

“He’s legit,” Daley said. “He runs a 10.6, 100. He will be the fastest kid we will see all year, no doubt about it.If he’s not carrying it and trying to get it outside on you, then Cam Barnette is pounding it inside at you.”

Cam Barnette is a 6-2, 215-pound senior. He has 155 yards on 31 carries to date.

“Then when they want to throw it, they generally throw it to the other Barnette (Brenten, a 6-3, 220-pound junior),” Daley said. “If they don’t find him, then they will look for Canary out of the backfield.”

The South Harrison quarterback is Nate Wright (5-9, 145). In two games, he’s only attempted 15 passes, completing seven for 131 yards.

“They have three outstanding players, and their offensive line has some decent size,” Daley said. “Defensively, they count on the same three guys to make plays. The Barnettes play the outside linebacker positions, and Canary sits back at safety.

“Their mike linebacker (Nathan Stickel) also is an outstanding player on the defensive side of the ball. He’s another guy they count on to make places. All in all, this is a very good football team.”

Central stands at 2-1 following last week’s 43-33 road loss to Western Reserve. Offensively, the Crusaders finished with 431 yards, 27 first downs and were turnover free. Unfortunately, Western Reserve trumped Central’s performance by recording 400 rushing yards and another 71 through the air.

“Offensively, we played really well,” Daley said. “Defensively, however, we couldn’t stop their toss play. In the end, they just wore us down. When your offense has more than 400 yards, puts 33 points on the board and has no turnovers, you should win the game.”

Junior Justin Hartzell, a fourth-place finisher in the Ohio Division IV 100-meter dash, has thrown for 443 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s added another 317 yards (7.0 yards a trip) on the ground. Fellow junior Craig Smith has 258 rushing yards, while senior Levi Thompson has contributed 135.

Junior Anthony Fallon has caught eight Hartzell passes for 109 yards and a score. Senior Jah Sawyer has five catches for 85 and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Central is allowing 315 yards per game and 28 points.

Daley pointed out South Harrison does have more speed than Western Reserve, an issue that concerns the veteran coach.

“They are fast, but they also can be physical when they want to be physical,” he said. “They’ll line up and go toe-to-toe with you and try to pound it at you.

“Coming off the week we’re coming off of, we’re reeling a little bit psychologically. Plus, we’re a little banged up. We might have some guys out of the lineup, so we’ll have to plug some guys in and try to get it done after a two and a half hour bus ride.”

When asked about keys to returning from Lost Creek with a victory, Daley simply said “outscore them.”

“Of course, we want to take advantage of our opportunities, move the football and avoid turnovers,” he said. “Defensively, we have to get stops and limit their opportunities. We’re hoping that when the final seconds tick off, we’re ahead by at least one point.”

After Friday’s road trip, Central will return home for four consecutive games, entertaining Warren JFK, Barnesville, St. Mary’s from Lancaster, N.Y. and Edison.

The game with St. Mary’s is scheduled for Oct. 7. It was to be played at Harding Stadium, but Central may need to find a new location because of the daylong “Soccer For A Cure” event scheduled for the stadium.