Regular season recap of Eastern District high school football


Steubenville’s Reno Saccoccia
Eastern district contributor Kurt Stubbs II checks in with a recap of the high school football regular season. Big winners include Steubenville (50 straight regular season wins), Zanesville's Bryan Gaiters (broke Buster Howe's rushing record) and Dover (which rebounded from an 0-3 start to make the playoffs). For more on those stories and others, read on…

The regular season has come and gone faster than Curlin in the Breeders Cup Classic. The season was filled with highs and lows, excitement, and disappointment.

This column is going to be a bit unique. I have quite a bit of stuff to cover with a ton of thoughts dancing in my head.

Things are going to be done a bit different this week, but hopefully you will enjoy

This week is going to be a two-part delivery. This will be the Week 10/Season review, while the playoff preview is forthcoming.

Let us get going.

Last Week’s Picks: (27-6)
Season Total: (295-50) (85.5%)


East Central Ohio League: (Dover- 7-0)
Muskingum Valley League: (Tri-Valley- 8-0)
Northeastern Buckeye Conference: (Canal Fulton Northwest- 7-0)
Ohio Cardinal Conference: (Ashland- 7-0)
PAC-7: (Tuscarawas Valley- 6-0)
Pioneer Valley Conference: (Buckeye Trail- 6-0)
River Valley Conference: (Beallsville- 6-0)
Inter-Valley Conference: (Ridgewood- 7-0)
Metro Athletic Conference (Warren Howland- 7-0)
Buckeye 8: (St. Clairsville- 7-0)
Inter-Tri County- Tier I: (North Lima South Range- 7-0)
Inter-Tri County- Tier II: (McDonald- 6-1)
Southeast Ohio Athletic Conference- North: (Logan- 4-0)
Southeast Ohio Athletic Conference- South: (Portsmouth- 4-0)
OVAC AAAA- (Steubenville- 10-0)
OVAC AA- (Buckeye Trail- 10-0)
OVAC AAA and A have yet to be determined, however, it appears a win for Wheeling Central (AAA) and Weirton Madonna (A) will lead to a championship.

Division II, Region 7 Round Up:

-Bryan Gaiters passed Buster Howe’s single season record for rushing yards with 114 yards on 23 attempts to give him 1,825 yards for the season. The senior also added three scores.

Gaiters and Coach Chad Grandstaff are both happy about the record, but for them it’s more about the team according to their words in the Zanesville Time Recorder.

“I am happy to get it, but the record doesn't mean as much as the win,” he said. “It was really emotional tonight playing our last game here. I hope the win can make us the third team in school history to make the playoffs.”

“This is great for the program and for Bryan to break the single season and career marks,” Grandstaff said. “He is a great kid and deserves what he gets. I know the line helped out, and he would be the first to tell you that.”

The Blue Devils defeated Chillicothe 28-9, and will be on the road next Friday at Columbus DeSales. It will be a daunting task for the Blue and White.

-The Tri-Valley Scotties certainly didn’t end its season on the highest of notes after being throttled 42-0 by Uniontown Lake. For the Scotties, it was their only loss of the regular season.

The Blue Streaks totally shutdown head coach Justin Buttermore’s spread offense limiting quarterback Cameron West to just 6 of 24 passing for only 71 yards including four interceptions. Meanwhile, the Scotty defense gave up 313 yards rushing. Tyler Crowl churned out 151 yards on the ground while teammate Gene Onabiyi went for 148 stripes. Both backs are over the 1,000-yard mark for the year. With the victory, Lake vaulted itself into the Division II, Region 7 playoffs. The loss will put the Scotties on the road in week 11.

The Blue Streaks, who had three tough in conference losses to Division I opponents, will travel to Louisville to take on the Leopards in what should be the game of the night in region 7. Tri-Valley will be on the road at Logan.

Division III, Region 11:

-The Dover Tornadoes certainly made me look smart after a week 3 loss to Canton CC (35-14) and a 0-3 start; I went on record to say the Tornadoes were the best team in the ECOL and they would run the table. Okay, so I wasn’t 100% sure, but I stuck by the prediction. So, not only did Dover run the table, it will host a playoff game (Canton South).

Junior quarterback Corey Lisowski threw for 264 yards and ran for 80 more yards to lead the Tornadoes to a 31-21 win over rival New Philadelphia (103rd meeting). Senior Matt Rinehart may have made the two biggest plays of the night the first on 63-yard TD reception and the second by making a 35-yard field goal on a messy field to give the Tornadoes a 10-point advantage. Sophomore Marcus Mamarella had six catches for 77 yards.

For the Quakers, who ended a season with high hopes at 6-4, got 107 yards rushing from sophomore Will McEwan. Quarterback Jordan Miller ended his very good prep football career by completing 17 of 23 aerials for 294 yards. Senior Byrant McKnight ended his stellar high school career with 10 snags for 123 markers.

The Tornadoes will host a familiar foe (Canton South) in round one. The Wildcats defeated Dover 28-21 in week 1 of the season. However, these will be two totally different units playing this coming Friday at Crater Stadium.

-Once again, the John Glenn Little Muskies take care of business in the second half of the season to make the post season. John Glenn clinched a playoff game Friday night without even strapping on the helmet with a few teams losing, but it didn’t take away from a good season ender. The Little Muskies trailed 8-0 to Morgan at halftime this past Saturday, but scored two answered TDs in the second 24 minutes to secure a 16-8 triumph. Justin Gidcumb led JG with 74 yards on 18 totes including a score.

The Little Muskies will be traveling to Beloit to take on West Branch (8-2).

-The Cambridge Bobcats ended the season by winning three straight over New Philadelphia, Claymont, and rival Meadowbrook. The Bobcats narrowly missed the post season finishing 9th. The Blue and White didn’t get any help this past weekend, but for a young team this was quite a year. With all of the graduation losses from a year ago to have this type of season is remarkable. Kudos goes out to Coach Rick Goodrich, his players and staff.

-Jared Kendziorski finished out his campaign with 28 carries for 234 yards and 5 TDs in Claymont’s 54-7 win over rival Indian Valley. The senior finished with 1,031 yards on the year.

-Indian Creek’s sophomore Doren Thomas closed out a fine year with 21 carries for 280 stripes in a 30-0 victory over Edison. In the process, Thomas eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier finishing with 1,038 yards on 280 totes. The Skins won 3 of their last 4 contests and 4 of 6. The lone loss in the last four games was a 36-35 overtime setback to Harrison Central on the road.

-Philo (4-6) closed the season on high note with a 27-14 win over Crooksville. Carter Paul finished the night with 21 carries for 106 yards for the Electrics giving him 1,281 markers on the year including 17 TDs.

-Beaver Local ended a disappointing season with a win over a Weir High (WV), 28-6. The Beavers played arguably won of the toughest schedules in the state, and finished 3-7. Senior Devon Ludwig had a huge night for the Red and White with 112 yards rushing on 11 carries including two scores, while throwing for 145 yards on 3 of 6 passing for another two scores and an interception.

Division IV, Region 13

-Steubenville Big Red has done it again. The Big Red completed its 19th undefeated regular season in 108 years of Steubenville football. Furthermore, this was the fifth undefeated regular season in a row. Fifth! So, in all, the Red has 50 consecutive regular season wins, 40 in a row overall, and 47-straight at home. Those numbers are mind-boggling, staggering, and just hard to even fathom.

The comments of Steubenville head coach Reno Saccoccia in the Steubenville Herald-Star say all you need to know about Big Red football.

“I don’t like to talk about number or streaks, but there comes a time when you have to recognize it and congratulate the people who are responsible for it. And I’d like to congratulate all of the coaches we’ve had over the last five years, the players we’ve had over the last five years and the parents we’ve had over the last five years,” said Reno Saccoccia, who in his 300th game as head coach of Big Red earned his 255th-career win.

“We appreciate everybody who has made this possible and that includes our coaches, players, parents, fans, band, cheerleaders, teachers, student body and administration. It takes the effort of all of those people and every other person in the Big Red kingdom to accomplish what we have accomplished here at Steubenville High School.”

The Red completed the undefeated season thanks in part to a hard-fought 19-14 win over Cardinal O’Hara (NY) a team who had its own 25-game winning streak snapped this past Friday. Sophomore quarterback Dwight Macon carried the leather 14 times for 142 yards, while juniors Demetrius Brandon and Branko Busick rushed for 97 and 82 yards respectively. The latter had two scores. Senior do-it-all Stevie Davis scooped up a Hawks fumble and raced 30 yards for a score. For the game, the Crimson and Black held O’Hara to 143 yards of total offense including holding 1,000-yard back Reggie Garner under 100 yards for the game.

The Red will host Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (9-1) in round one.

-Tuscarawas Valley finished the regular season with a 23-6 triumph of Wooster Triway. The Trojans were led by senior tailback Steven Spillman’s 111 yards rushing on 11 carries including a score. The Trojans will be on the road against Canton CC in week 11.

-The Coshocton Redskins, a team filled with underclassmen, enter the playoffs as the 8th seed following last Friday’s victory over River View. In that game, sophomore Marcus Johnston rushed for 127 stripes on 23 totes including a score. For the year, Johnston has accumulated 1,091 yards on 153 attempts including eight trips to pay dirt. The Redskins have an earned a date with the juggernaut that is Youngstown Cardinal Mooney.

Division IV, Region 15

-The St. Clairsville Red Devils completed its first undefeated regular season in 23 years. The Red Devils were 10-0 in 1985, but left out of postseason playing under the old format of four teams per region making the dance. However, this Devil squad not only made week 11 it finished as the number one seed.

The Red Devils ended the regular season with a convincing 26-6 win over rival Harrison Central in the battle for the Coal Bucket. The Devil defense was stone cold as usual giving up just 155 yards of offense (141 rushing and 14 passing). However, 85 of those rushing yards came on a Wes Skinner TD run against the second unit.

On offense, the well kept secret (Kurtis Cullen) finished with 114 yards rushing on 22 totes with a six-pointer. Quarterback Anthony Vincent finished with 78 rushing and score, while completing 6 of 8 passes for 74 stripes and a score. Dustin Hynes scored on a run and hauled in a six-pointer.

The Red Devils will host Ironton Rock Hill (7-3) this Saturday night at the Fairgrounds.

-The Union Local Jets finished the regular season 9-1 following a 35-21 triumph of bitter rival Barnesville. The Red and White also secured their first ever postseason birth.

For the Jets and head coach Mark Cisar, it was another night of big plays. It all started on the opening kickoff when Zach Azallion fielded the kick headed right and flipped it back to Zach Gust who proceeded to blow by would-be tacklers for an 80-yard return for six. Oh, but the magician wasn’t done. Following a Barnesville score, the senior outdid his previous work. This time Jordan Barbina fielded the kick and Gust ran backwards to take the flip. Following the exchange, Gust raced to the right and found himself trapped, broke a few tackles, and ran straight to the left corner of the end zone leaving the Rocks in a trail of steam on the wet surface. This was all in the first quarter. Sometimes after witnessing this kid, I just have to shake my head in amazement. He capped off his night with a 41-yard TD run. Ironically, the Jets won their first game of the season by the same score of 35-21 and Gust returned a kickoff and a punt in that game.

Senior Zach Azallion rushed for 62 yards on nine totes with a score, while Kyle Blackman hauled in yet another TD strike from Jordan Barbina. The junior signal caller finished 18 of 25 passing for 116 yards and one score to a like amount of interceptions.

The Jets will be on the road at Waverly (9-1) in week 11.

-Martins Ferry ended its season on high note following an injury plagued season with a 30-0 win over arch-rival Bellaire. The Riders finished 6-4, but those seasons don’t cut it at tradition rich Martins Ferry. The Riders will be a preseason top dog in 2008 with a plethora of kids returning.

Division V, Region 17

-The Garaway Pirates closed out the season with a 42-6 victory over Strasburg. The Pirates won their last six games after starting just 1-3. Juniors Devin Schie (1,025 rushing) and Clay Wilson (1,001 yards rushing) both went over the 1,000-yard mark. Wilson ended the season with a 108-yard effort on 12 tries in the finale. Junior David Gerber tossed 3 TDs. The theme is juniors, and that means good things for 2008.

Division V, Region 19

-Buckeye Trail completed its first ever undefeated regular this past Friday night. The Warriors raced by Monroe Central, 28-7. Brock Davis completed 8 of 12 passes for 153 yards including scores to Brandon Ogden and Bobby Beros.

The Warriors have an outstanding senior class and it certainly showed throughout the course of the year. Thrown in sophomore Bobby Beros and this is a team filled with playmakers. Coach Randy Thompson’s crew will entertain Fredericktown (8-2) this Friday night.

-The Ridgewood Generals just keep on winning in the IVC, and fly under the radar. The West Lafayette-based school rolled over Newcomerstown 41-7 in the regular season finale. Junior Derrick Young led the way with 17 carries for 124 yards and three trips (one of those receiving) to “fun zone.” For the season, Young has amassed 1,128 yards on the ground on 142 totes with eight scores.

The Generals will be traveling to Wheelersburg (7-3) to take on the Pirates.

-Shenandoah (7-3) came up short of the post season, but senior Joey Wheeler ended a great final campaign with 293 yards rushing on 31 carries with four trips to pay dirt in a 30-16 win over Noble County rival Caldwell.

Division VI, Region 21

-The Wellsville Tigers ended the year on a high note with an upset of McDonald (14-12). The Tigers started out the year a disappointing 1-4, but ended the season 4-1 to reach .500. The lone loss was a 17-14 setback to Lowellville. In the game, Zane Carter intercepted three McDonald aerials.

Division VI, Region 23

-The Shadyside Tigers enjoyed another successful regular season following last year’s trip to the state championship game. The Tigers rolled to 9-1 after a 55-0 trouncing of St. John. Senior Nathaniel Haney hauled in Billy Merryman’s only pass attempt of the night for a 59-yard score and returned a punt 59 yards for another six-pointer.

The Orange and Black will host a very good Steubenville CC (8-2) squad in the opening round.

-The River Pilots (9-1) closed out the season with a 44-6 throttling of Frontier. In the process , senior Troy Starr went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark by finishing the night with 26 tries for 188 yards and two scores. He is only the third back in River’s history to do so. Furthermore, Starr caught one of Dylan Potts’ two TD strikes. The other being hauled in by Jared Trifonoff on a 24-yard pass play from the sophomore who went over 1,000 yards passing for the year.

The Pilots will host Beallsville (10-0) in opening round action.

The Cougars David Thomas hauled in the lone score of the night on a 72-yard pass play from Tyler Harris. The senior ended his night with seven snares for 138 stripes.

-The Malvern Hornets finished its regular season at 8-2 with a 41-6 handling of Sandy Valley. The Hornets used 127 yards rushing and 3 TDs by David Alexander to lead the way. The Green and White will travel to Danville (7-3) in week 11.

-The Beallsville Blue Devils completed a perfect regular season for the second straight year with a 35-0 throttling of Fort Frye. Senior quarterback Kevin Stoney completed 12 of 18 aerials for 205 yards including two scores and a like amount of interceptions.

The Blue and White will travel to Hannibal to take on the Pilots in opening round action.

-Steubenville CC (8-2) rolled to a 48-12 win over Mount View (WV) this past Saturday afternoon. Senior quarterback Brian DeFranco threw 3 TDs with Chris Gale hauling in two of those (2 catches for 72 yards), and Justin Kaufman running for 149 yards on just 15 tries and two scores.

The Crusaders come into the playoffs as the number seven seed and will travel to Shadyside to take on the Tigers in one of the most intriguing small school match ups in the state.

-The Toronto Red Knights (5-5) closed out the year with a 35-14 triumph of Rosecrans. Brandon “Bam Bam” Hunter finished the night with 110 yards rushing on just 11 carries with a score.

-The Bridgeport Bulldogs finished up at 6-4 capping off its second consecutive winning season for head coach Rudy Vavrock. Freshman Chris Smelley ran for 125 yards on 14 attempts including a score, while also collecting a TD toss from senior quarterback Ryan Kreiter. The Dogs defense held the Cameron Dragons to just 165 yards of total offense on their way to a 38-6 win.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *