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Crusaders hope to keep momentum rolling

OUT IN FRONT — Primo Toriscelli and the Catholic Central football team look for their second victory against Bishop Rosecrans on Saturday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

STEUBENVILLE — Catholic Central will be looking for a second consecutive victory when it welcomes Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans to Leo Buffone Field Saturday.

The Crusaders cracked the win column last week thanks to a 31-8 victory over Bridgeport. Rosecrans is 0-6 following its 63-6 loss to Berne Union in the first round of the Division VII, Region 27 playoffs. The kick for the first meeting between the schools is set for 4 p.m.

Rosecrans returned to 11-man football this year after playing the eight-man game in 2019. The Bishops went 5-3 a season ago. Chris Zemba is in his first year as the Rosecrans coach, and his club has fallen to Corning Miller, Berne Union (the teams have played twice), Grove City Christian, Lancaster Fisher Catholic and Fairfield Christian Academy.

Before encountering issues with numbers (Rosecrans and Central were scheduled to play a season ago), the Bishops had a solid program. They made the Ohio playoffs in 1998, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2016 and 2017.

“We have seen Rosecrans on film,” Central coach Anthony Agresta said. “They are a young football team and a scrappy group. They are struggling with their young much like we are.

“I give their kids a lot of credit. They have a lot of two-way guys and a lot of younger guys, but they are battling as hard as they can. They dress fewer players than we do, right around 20 maybe — even less with injuries. They are well coached, and they’ll be ready for us on Saturday.”

Senior Thomas Spohn provides most of the offensive spark for Rosecrans.

“He is their best football player,” Agresta said. “He lines up anywhere from quarterback to tailback to slot back to wide receiver. He also plays inside linebacker for them on defense. He definitely is a player, and we will need to find a way to slow him down.”

Malakai Clark, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound sophomore, plays wide receiver and tight end for the Bishops while junior Tommy Bernath is a threat carrying the football.

Senior Ethan Phillips (6-1, 220) is a two-way standout on the line for Rosecrans.

“They run a traditional pro-style offense,” Agresta said. “We will see a lot of I back sets and plenty of motion. We will need to be fundamentally sound on the defensive side of the ball to slow down their attack.”

Senior quarterback Ryan Gorman put together a solid game in the victory over Bridgeport, running for 77 yards and a touchdown and throwing for 99 more. He connected with fellow senior Vince Carapellotti for a passing score.

Carapellotti finished with five catches for 46 yards and motored 80 yards with a pass interception for a touchdown.

“I don’t think there is a coach in the universe who is going to look at game film and be completely happy with the things he saw,” Agresta said. “We did, however, see our guys do a much better job with some of the things we have been stressing at practice.

“Our offensive line was getting movement on contact, our linebackers were playing downhill and our running backs were hitting the point of attack quickly. We saw a strong effort in those areas and we definitely were pleased with that.”

Through seven games, Central’s offense is averaging 204 yards and 18 points. The 31 points scored against Bridgeport represented a season high. Defensively, the Crusaders are yielding 35 points and 342 yards.

Gorman has thrown for 645 yards and six touchdowns. He also now is the team’s leading rusher. Carapellotti leads Central in receiving with 25 catches for 273 yards and a pair of scores.

Senior Isaac Hough has 13 grabs for 139 yards and two 6-pointers. Junior Primo Toriscelli has eight catches for 74 yards.

“After the Bridgeport game, I told our kids winning needs to become a habit,” Agresta said. “We have to work as hard as we can this week in order to give ourselves the best opportunity to record back to back victories.”

Following the game with Rosecrans, Central will close its season with a home game against Buckeye Local and a road trip to Morgantown Trinity.

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