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Back home again

September 11, 2009
By STEPHANIE ELVERD

Whether or not home is indeed where the heart is, is a matter of an opinion and experience.

Whether or not home is where victory is will be determined this weekend after six of our area teams take on opponents in friendly confines.

Tonight, Southern Local comes to Clarke Hinkle to take on Toronto, Bellaire invades Buckeye Local's World War II Stadium, Indian Creek plays host to Oak Glen at Kettlewell and Weir will welcome Edison to Jimmy Carey.

Jimmy Carey will host a second game Saturday, when Madonna takes on St. John Central. Harding Stadium will also light up Saturday when East Palestine drops by to battle Catholic Central.

Undefeated Big Red and Harrison Central hit the road, tonight. Steubenville travels to East Liverpool's Patterson Field. The Huskies play at Purple Rider Stadium.

Big Red at

East Liverpool

The Red will roll on. That pretty much says it all.

I'm not disrespecting the Potters. They've come along. They put that whole getting-paid-to-play scandal behind them,

found a new head coach in Mark Asher and got back to work as soon as state law allowed. On the first minute permitted for contact hitting, the Potters hit the field at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 8.

It paid off with a season-opening win over Beaver Local. However, East Liverpool suffered a setback last week with a three-touchdown loss to Oak Glen. Tonight, East Liverpool will face the Valley's premier football team. The margin of defeat will be much, much greater.

Steubenville has won 62-straight games in the regular season and has not lost to an opponent in the first 10 weeks since 2002. Ironically, it was the Potters who delivered that blow, beating the Red, 6-0, in the final game of the regular season in a quagmire at East Liverpool.

But, like the rain that flooded Patterson Field almost seven years ago, that's all water under the bridge. East Liverpool will not unroll the Red, which is fresh from a 13-0 win over WPIAL powerhouse Woodlands Hills. Tonight, Steubenville will record a 47-0 win.

Southern Local at Toronto

Before I make any predictions concerning this game, there's a few things I'd like to say. I am the mother of two Toronto Titans, ages 8 and 9.

I expect my boys to work hard and play hard whether it's practice or game time. I expect them to respect their opponents, teammates and coaches at all times. I expect them to see being on a team for what it is - both a responsibility and a privilege.

I expect them to remember these things when they are 16- and 17-year-old players, and if they don't, rest assured, I'll be there to remind them.

As much as I expect from my two boys on the playing field, I expect that much if not more from their coaches on the sidelines. All that being said, I can hope they get to play for a coach like Brian Connelly.

I know there are some Red Knight fans out there criticizing the coaching staff.

What I don't know is why. Because the Red Knights lost by one point to Wellsville - a team that beat Toronto 46-16 last season? Doesn't that show improvement? Doesn't that mean the football program is taking steps forward instead of steps back?

What about the two years before Connelly took over?

Toronto finished a collective 5-15. Perhaps coaching is not the problem. Maybe injuries, players quitting and players transferring to other schools have a little more to do with it.

It's easy to criticize. What's not easy to do is to finish a season with less than 20 players, but that's what coach Connelly did last year.

What's not easy to do is raise numbers after an 0-10 season, but that's what Connelly did this year.

The Red Knights began the 2008 season with 26 players on the roster and ended it with 16 healthy players. This season began with a 42-man roster, almost double the players from the season before.

That doesn't sound like failure. That sounds like success, which is measured by much more than simple wins and losses. Connelly didn't quit on your kids. It's a shame some of you are quitting on him.

I have faith Connelly will keep the Red Knights moving in the right direction, and tonight, his team will take another step forward with a 21-6 win over Southern.

Bellaire at

Buckeye Local

Another week. Another Buckeye 8 opponent. Another win for Ron Pobolish and his Panthers.

I'm beginning to really like Buckeye Local. The Panthers turned away Martins Ferry in Week 1. They downed St. Clairsville last week. Tonight, they'll get a decisive win over Jose Davis-led Bellaire. Even if Davis was calling signals instead of plays, I'd still have to go with the Panthers.

They're the team to beat in the Buckeye 8. Tonight, they'll remain undefeated in the conference and on the season with a 35-12 win.

Harrison Central at Martins Ferry

Justin Kropka hasn't had much luck against his old coaching mentor Dave Bruney. Last year, his Huskies fell 27-19.

The year before Harrison Central dropped a 26-8 decision.

Things haven't gone the way Kropka would have liked in recent seasons, but tonight they finally will. Bruney will find himself in a dogfight with his former assistant tonight and the dogs will win. I'm predicting a 28-27 win for the Huskies.

Oak Glen at

Indian Creek

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the Redskins are going to win some games this season. They earned their first win last week over John Hay at Kettlewell. Tonight, they'll pick up another win at home when they defeat Oak Glen.

This will not be a cakewalk for Indian Creek.

The Redskins will be tested by the Golden Bears and this game will be decided in the fourth quarter when Andrew Connor's squad outscores Tony Filberto's boys with a late game TD. Creek wins 26-21.

Edison at Weir

The Wildcats are still winless. The Red Riders are fresh from a loss. Both will be looking for redemption tonight at Jimmy Carey.

Much like Oak Glen and Indian Creek's game, this one will be go down to the wire.

I think Weir will pull ahead by a touchdown or two, but Edison will match the points and tack on another score in the second half to win 34-27.

East Palestine at Catholic Central

So far, 2009 has not been kind to the Crusaders.

It began with an overtime loss to Columbiana and a loss to Ridgewood followed in Week 2.

Things do not get any easier for Central when East Palestine comes to town Saturday.

Still, I'm not counting the boys in blue out. On the contrary, I'm counting on a Catholic Central win.

Central is a good football team who has played outstanding competition in the first two weeks. East Palestine is just as tough, but the Crusaders will prove just a wee but tougher, winning 15-7.

St. John Central at Madonna

After sitting out Week 1 with a bye, the Blue Dons came into the second week swinging. They routed Paden City, 54-6.

Madonna, which is loaded with talent, will continue its small-school dominance on Saturday. The Irish simply don't stand a chance.

They have been struggling in recent years, while the Blue Dons have been soaring.

Madonna will fly high again, Saturday in 49-0 fashion.

(Elverd, a resident of Toronto, is a sports writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at selverd@heraldstaronline.com).

 
 

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