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Week 4 brought many blowouts, history

HONORING — Members of the 1984 Big Red football state championship team were honored before Steubenville’s contest against New Philadelphia on Friday. - - Joe Catullo

STEUBENVILLE — Prior to Friday’s game with New Philadelphia, Big Red took time to honor its 1984 Ohio Division II state championship team.

In his weekly football program message, coach Reno Saccoccia said the 1984 team set the bar at a level that can never be beaten — only duplicated, being on the field state champions.

Thirty-five seasons ago, Big Red made valley history — becoming the first area Ohio football team to earn a state championship in a game decided on the playing field.

On Nov. 23, 1984, Joe Johnson’s 1-yard scoring plunge lifted Big Red to a thrilling 12-9 overtime victory over Columbus Whitehall-Yearling in the title game, played inside Ohio Stadium.

The win allowed Big Red to cap a 13-0 season under Saccoccia, who was his second year as head coach.

“Although we won championships in the AP and UPI polls, this was our first on the field,” Saccoccia wrote. “Yes, 1984 team you set the bar — the bar that we begin to chase every January. The bar that we work our tails off to reach.

“In 2005, 2006 and 2017, we grabbed and held onto that bar you set and we try to reach each and every year. Thank you for setting the bar that every team that follows you from now until the end of time will do everything in its power to reach.”

Twenty-six members of the team were treated to a pre-game dinner supplied by the Big Red Boosters Club. They, along with several of their coaches, received commemorative hats.

“Being recognized tonight makes me feel great,” said Steve Nodianos, who quarterbacked the 1984 squad. “We had a lot of chemistry on the team and good leadership from our seniors. We just followed Reno’s lead.

“We played a tough team in the championship game. Both teams had good defenses — the strength of our team was defense (known as the Ghostbusters, the Big Red defense allowed just 49 points during the regular season). It’s tough to win a championship in Ohio. We had some good players and great coaches and the coaching aspect has shown over the years.”

Jim Barren, who recorded three sacks in Big Red’s 8-0 playoff victory over Youngstown Ursuline, said a practice held in the summer of 1983 helped set the 1984 team on its path to a championship.

“Everyone was talking about that practice tonight,” Barren said. “It was the day after our scrimmage with Alliance. It was about three and a half hours long and I think I lost about 19 pounds of water weight. It was a long, hard practice and it still remains etched in everyone’s memory 36 years later.

“I’m proud to have been a Big Red football player — period. Being the first to win a state title on the field is very significant. I’m very grateful to have been part of it. If coach Reno wants to use us as a marker to inspire players, that’s a huge honor for us.”

Brian Young, who ran for 113 yards in the 26-6 semifinal win over Westlake, noted “it seems like the championship game was played just last week.”

“You can remember just about everything that went on, even though it was 35 years ago,” he said. “It feels wonderful that we were able to start a tradition that everyone tries to follow.

“Big Red Nation is just great. Everyone is family. The support we received in 1984 was just tremendous. Our fans sat through some miserable weather but they were there supporting us. The same thing goes on today. The players on the field now are having the same experience we had.”

Marcus McGhee, a defensive/running back, said “it feels almost like we’re Big Red’s first love.”

“We are the ones who got it started,” he said. “You always have a special feeling for that first time. People still feel the ’84 magic and it’s an honor to know we are still remembered and still recognized.

“I’ve had the opportunity to see other classes earn and obtain state titles but it’s still a special feeling knowing we were the first ones.

Charlie Keenan admitted he relishes the great memories he has about his teammates and what the 1984 squad did together.

“We had a lot of great teams before us that helped us get to where we needed to be,” said Keenan, who returned an interception for a touchdown against Westlake and also recorded two quarterback sacks.

Keenan also got to experience life as a Big Red football parent, watching his son Charlie represent the Crimson and the Black.

“You always want the best for your children,” he said.

“My son played football for Big Red and had a great experience. I’m proud of him and very proud of the program.”

Keenan, Barren and Matt Morrison represented the team as honorary co-captains Friday.

Players attending were Barren, Joe Biasi, Tim Crossley, John Downard, Ted Gorman, Anthony Jackson, Keenan, Steve Lucas, Greg Mamula, Nick Mamula, McGhee, Ron Milanti, Don Moore, Morrison, John Murray, Nodianos, John Sandonas, Julius Shackleford, Paul Shepherd, Eddie Smith, Jim Strachan, Henry Taglione, Myron Walker, Fred Wise, Dan Wise and Young.

Coaches in attendance included Tom Mitchell, Bob Radakovich, Paul Price, Don Morrison, Bill Bruney and Paul Filtz.

Quick hitters

¯ Matt Dennison, New Philadelphia’s football coach and athletic director, had nothing but good things to say about the OVAC following Friday’s game with Big Red. New Philadelphia and Dover joined the conference earlier this year. “Talk about a league that does things right,” he said. “Everything the OVAC does is top notch and first class. We’re extremely happy to be part of it.”

¯ We have reached Week 5 of the high school football season and the area has just one unbeaten team — the Oak Glen Golden Bears. Thanks its 4-0 record, Oak Glen is ranked third in the West Virginia Class AA standings by wvtailgatecentral.com. The Bears face a tough challenge this week when they travel across the Ohio River to test 2-2 East Liverpool.

¯ Joe Eitel has two local teams ranked in the top five of their respective regions. Indian Creek is fifth in Division IV, Region 13, while Toronto holds the same spot in Division VII, Region 25. Both teams can pocket some huge computer points this week. Creek has a date at unbeaten St. Clairsville, third in Div. IV, Region 15. Meanwhile, the Red Knights will host unbeaten Crestwood, which is fifth in Div. V, Region 17. Big Red is sitting at 12th in Div. III, Region 9.

¯ Threes were definitely wild for the top rushers from Week 4 in The Herald Star/Daily Times coverage area. Big Red’s Tayveon Crawford, Indian Creek’s Trevor Fante and Catholic Central’s Jeffrey Dawson all found the end zone three times. Crawford continues to be the top ground gainer in the area.

¯ How about the game Madonna’s Santino Arlia had in Friday’s 34-0 shutout of Mathews? “Slinging” Santino, just a sophomore, threw for 364 yards and all five of the Blue Don touchdowns. He completed 28 of his 41 attempts. Arlia connected with nine different receivers. Brennan Secrist had seven catches for three scores. Secrist remains the top receiver in the HS/DT coverage area.

¯ University Prep will bring a 5-0 mark to Harding Stadium Friday for its battle with Big Red. The Panthers are coming off a 40-6 whipping of Allderdice, Steubenville’s Week 1 opponent. Michael Snowden, an Akron recruit, scored three rushing touchdowns for University Prep.

¯ Massillon senior quarterback Aidan Longwell continues to rewrite the school’s record book. In Friday’s 42-21 win over Penn-Trafford, Longwell became Massillon’s career leader in touchdown passes. He sits at 65 scoring tosses after throwing four in the game, breaking Justin Zwick’s school record of 63.

¯ Joe Eitel has been busy with his computer playoff ratings since the 2019 season began but the Ohio High School Athletic Association will release its first official standings this week.

¯ Speaking of Massillon, legendary Tiger Stadium is marking its 80th anniversary this season. The storied facility, which has been known as Paul Brown Tiger Stadium since 1976, hosted its first game on Sept. 14, 1939.

Top stats

Running wild

¯ 182, Tayveon Crawford, Big Red, 3 touchdowns

¯ 180, Trevor Fante, Indian Creek, 3 touchdowns

¯ 157, Jeffrey Dawson, Catholic Central, 3 touchdowns

¯ 120, Garrett Dozier, Toronto, 2 touchdowns

¯ 105, JoJo Savage, Toronto

¯ 103, Hunter Patterson, Oak Glen, touchdown

Gunslingers

¯ 364, Santino Arlia, Madonna, 28 of 41, 5 scores

¯ 216, Nick Chaney, Oak Glen, 13 of 21, 2 scores

¯ 169, Caleb Leasure, Toronto, 10 of 15, 2 scores

¯ 151, Kobe Mitchell, Harrison Central, 10 of 14, 4 scores

¯ 136, Randy Mitchell, Big Red, 16 of 25

Hands team

¯ 7, Brennan Secrist, Madonna, 66, 3 touchdowns

¯ 5, Colton Littleton, Madonna, 71

¯ 5, Gage Patterson, Oak Glen, 65

¯ 5, Tayveon Crawford, Big Red, 44

¯ 5, Stone Biacco, Big Red, 43

¯ 4, Zach Taylor, Oak Glen, 62, touchdown

¯ 4, Thomas Sessi, Madonna, 62

¯ 4, Mason Thompson, Madonna, 54, 2 touchdowns

¯ 4, Brian Palmer, Buckeye Local, 45, touchdown

¯ 4, Jacob Zanes, Buckeye Local, 28

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