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Central honors legends, area teams have a rough Week 5

TOE THE LINE — Madonna’s Lennon Dietrch tries to stay in bounds while making a catch against Mathews on Friday. The Blue Dons were the only area team to win last week, but unfortunately will be sidelined by COVID this week. -- Andrew Grimm

STEUBENVILLE — Fifty years ago this fall, Catholic Central fielded one of the best teams to ever grace the gridiron in the Ohio Valley.

The 1971 Crusaders finished unbeaten (they were 10-0) and untied while taking down many opponents much larger than themselves — both size and enrollment wise. They handed three schools their only loss of the season.

Coached by the late Tom Korab, Central ended the year ranked first in both the Associated Press and UPI Ohio Class AA polls and accumulated the most computer points of any team in the state the final year before the OHSAA implemented a postseason playoff system.

The entire team was honored by the school last week when it entered the Crusader Athletic Hall of Fame. A few players also participated in Saturday’s homecoming parade.

“It’s a great honor for our team to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, it’s an honor for every person that was on that team — from the biggest star down to the scout team,” Mike Mehalik said recently during an interview with Andrew Grimm. “That’s the important part to me, that it’s honoring a whole football team, not individuals.”

“To me, there were no stars,” added Dave Tuttle. “We played together as a unit, as a team. I had your back if you messed up, you had my back if I messed up. We played together, we gelled together.”

The talented seniors on the 1971 team started their Central careers by going undefeated (7-0) and untied as freshmen. Many of these saw varsity action as sophomores, which, believe it or not, was a rarity 50 years ago.

So, just how good was this team? Consider the following information from a story written by Mario Saggio and posted on the Central football website, www.steubenvillecentralcrusaders.com:

• The 1971 Crusaders beat eight Class AAA opponents (remember these were the days before schools were placed into divisions), including perennial powers from three different states.

• Central handed six teams their initial loss of the season and outscored their foes by a combined total of 253-26.

• Korab’s crew never trailed at any point in the season and did not allow a single point in the first or fourth quarters of any game. Central began the season with three-straight shutouts and finished the campaign in the same fashion. In between, it never allowed more than eight points in a single game.

• Mehalik finished with 1,204 rushing yards and Tuttle added 1,066. Dave Mottis had 100 tackles and Tuttle 79.

• UPI named Mehalik and Tuttle co-backs of the year in the state and Mottis was the lineman of the year in Class AA. Korab was an easy choice as coach of the year.

• The AP put Mehalik on its first offensive team and Mottis was a first team defensive choice.

• Mehalik moved on to the University Pittsburgh along with Tom Perko. Tuttle attended

the University of Kentucky, kicker Emil Ros went to West Virginia, Mottis to Memphis

State and Paul Carapellotti to Furman.

• Perko, one of several team members who have passed away, went on to play in the Canadian Football League and for the Green Bay Packers of the NFL.

• The team remains the only undefeated and untied squad in CCHS football history.

Bob McCosky, who served as Korab’s offensive coordinator in 1971, delivered the acceptance

speech on behalf of the 1971 team.

“Because we have that team attitude, we didn’t feel like one player should speak in front of

another,” said Ray Saccoccia. “Out of respect for our coaching staff and with coach Korab being

gone, that’s why we decided on a coach.”

Others who joined the Crusader hall last week were Edmund Narewski, class of 1967, Reno

DiCarlantonio, class of 1974, Terry Alessi, class of 1975 and Chris Delatore, Class of 1984.

THANKS DONS

Thanks to Madonna’s hard-fought 14-6 victory over Mathews, the week that was for high school football teams in The Herald Star/Daily Times coverage area wasn’t a total loss.

Santino Arlia threw for 291 yards and a touchdown as the Blue Dons improved to 4-0 (they now are the lone unbeaten left in the area). Evan Quering, the second leading receiver in the area, hauled in 11 Arlia aerials for 161 yards. Michael Burdine caught Arlia’s scoring toss.

The win cleared the decks for what would have been a huge Class A showdown with 3-0 Cameron at Jimmy Carey Stadium Saturday, but it was announced Monday the game has been canceled due to a COVID issue within the Blue Dons program.

In this week’s West Virginia Class A power rankings, a Metro News feature, Cameron is rated sixth and Madonna seventh.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Madonna coach Dan Rovira said following the game. “We came out with the win and that’s all that matters.

“We’re gonna get better. We have an extra day to work this week to try and improve on things.”

Cameron last played on Sept. 10 when it knocked Frontier from the ranks of the unbeaten with a convincing 44-6 win.

COSTLY TURNOVERS

As Big Red’s Reno Saccoccia noted following his team’s loss at Dover, “turnovers are killers.”

Big Red had the lead, the momentum and the football midway through the second quarter before Dover’s T.C. Molk delivered a leaping interception of a Steubenville pass.

Three plays later, Dover tied the game and prompted a major shift in momentum. The Crimson Tornadoes went ahead for goal as time was expiring in the first half on a 40-yard field goal by Lucas Lane.

“That was big,” Dover coach Dan Ifft said of the field goal. “We scored to take momentum into

the half and then we got the ball back to start the second half and scored again.”

Ifft also told Roger Metzger of the Dover Times Reporter “it was good to get a win even though

Steubenville came into the contest with a number of injuries and suffered a few more.” Tight

end/linebacker Brandon Kinney left the game after being injured while making an outstanding

catch of a Phaeton Hill pass in the second quarter.

Turnovers also played major roles in other area games from the weekend.

• Windham got a 70-yard pick six in its 36-6 whipping of Catholic Central.

• Beaver Local picked off an Edison pass with 1:25 left to play to preserve a 27-21 victory.

• Martins Ferry turned an interception and a fumble into scores on its way to a 38-7 triumph over Weir High.

• Gates Mills Hawken recovered a Harrison Central fumble inside its own 5-yard line midway through the fourth quarter then went on a game-winning, 14-play drive to pull out a 34-27 win.

GOLDEN GUY

During Big Red’s game at Dover, Hunter Armstrong, a Dover native and Olympic swimmer, was honored for his gold medal performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A rising junior at The Ohio State University, Armstrong swam the backstroke in the qualifying heat of the medley relay, helping Team USA to a seventh-place finish and earning a spot in the finals.

In the finals, the USA team finished in 3:26:78, setting an Olympic and world record and earning the gold medal. While Armstrong didn’t swim in the final relay, he earned a gold for his efforts as a member of the team.

TOP STATS

Running wild

• 211, Zane Kinsey, Toronto

• 137, Nathan Bertolino, Harrison Central, 3 touchdowns

• 108, Dylan Conley, Oak Glen

Gunslingers

• 291, Santino Arlia, Madonna, 27 of 47, score

• 131, Phaeton Hill, Steubenville, 14 of 25

• 128, Landon Beatty, Oak Glen, 2 of 4, score

• 117, Gage Cline, Edison 11 of 27, score

Hands team

• 11, Evan Quering, Madonna, 161

• 6, Jacob Cusick, Edison, 53, touchdown

• 5, Michael Burdine, Madonna, 41, touchdown

• 5, Tyler Ialenti, Catholic Central, 59

• 5, Chase Littleton, Madonna, 25

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