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Your schedule has no bearing on game at hand

November 30, 2009
By MIKE MATHISON, Sports editor

I heard it all year.

Madonna is not that good. The team is undefeated, but anyone would go undefeated with that schedule.

The Blue Dons will never beat Wheeling Central.

Look at the schedule Central played - Akron Buchtel, Warren JFK, Catholic Central, Martins Ferry, Brashear and Linsly.

I heard it.

Wheeling Central beat Martins Ferry and Madonna could never do that so there is no way Madonna will beat Wheeling Central.

Steubenville Big Red's outstanding season came to an end at 12-2 with the 45-7 loss Friday to Mooney at Fawcett Stadium.

Steubenville beat Division I state semifinalist Massillon Washington, Division III regional finalist Poland, WPIAL Class AAAA champion Woodland Hills and its only loss was to Division 2 Michigan state runner-up Inkster.

"Hopefully, those games prepared us for this week," Big Red coach Reno Saccoccia said last week before the game against Mooney. "But, I also think that it a little overrated.

"We've won playoff games when we haven't had this type of schedule and we've lost playoff games when we've had this type of schedule.

"It all comes down to how healthy we are and how mentally prepared we are with what goes on this week. I'm not sure if the past has as much to do with the future as we think it does."

Big Red has won 94 percent of its 98 games played since the start of the 2003 season. It has lost as many games in that stretch as it did in the 2001 and 2002 seasons combined - six.

Steubenville's schedule played what role in this stretch?

Schedule or the program?

"Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

Few thought Madonna would beat Wheeling Central because Madonna is Madonna and Wheeling Central is the big bad giant who no one can beat.

People looked back to the whipping the Blue Dons took in the 2007 West Virginia Class A semifinals and thought that, in some strange way, had something to do with the meeting at Jimmy Carey Stadium.

It had as much to do with the 18-7 outcome as did the Maroons Knights' win over Martins Ferry on Oct. 23.

That night the Blue Dons blanked Toronto, in what was the fifth of their seven shutouts.

Playing Paden City, St. John Central, Cameron, Valley, Clarksburg, Toronto and Bishop Donahue cannot get you ready to play Wheeling Central?

And why not?

The Blue Dons had three tests before smacking Wheeling Central - beating Bridgeport, hosting Steubenville Catholic Central and going on the road in the final week of the regular season to face Clay-Battelle.

The biggest game of the three, by far, was beating the Crusaders.

As it was against Wheeling Central, few gave the Dons a chance against Steubenville Central.

You see, Madonna hadn't really played anyone before that game.

You see, if the Blue Dons had the Crusaders' schedule and if the Crusaders had the Blue Dons' schedule, their records would be the same.

Really, enough.

Your schedule is your schedule and you play 10 opponents to the best of your ability.

Last week's loss or win really has no bearing on the next week, minus a few attitudes.

It's what you do on that Friday or Saturday against the team lining up against you.

Do you have teenagers who will reach and exceed expectations?

Do you have teenagers who thoroughly hate to lose?

Do you have teenagers who do not care who gets the credit as long as it's a win?

Not every team has those teenagers.

Just because you have a football team chalk full of unselfish kids does not mean that it is the same in another sport in the same school.

It can happen, but it doesn't always happen.

Good is good and it's time to recognize it.

I understand hate is a really strong word, but these Madonna athletes really hate to lose.

There is a team full of them.

It starts with the seniors who were sick and tired of being beaten by the Maroon Knights.

The guys who play baseball broke that hex last spring to make it to the state championship semifinals, where they lost to Man in extra innings.

That's the same school, the Hillbillies, the Blue Dons will face at 7 p.m. Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium for the Class A state championship.

"Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven't planted." - David Bly

Brooke graduates seven seniors.


The Bruins, like the Blue Dons, are 13-0 and ranked No. 1 in their classification.

They will take on defending Class AAA state champion South Charleston at noon Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium for the state title.

Brooke has taken a different avenue to the 14th game than Madonna.

While the Blue Dons expected to still be in pads, the Bruins are the new kids on the block.

The squad was coming off a 3-7 year and was staring a new coach and a new attitude square in the face six months ago. The answer for the Brooke athletes was simple - jump on board and work hard or not.

Fifty-something chose the former and have been on a brilliant ride since converting a two-point conversion to beat Parkersburg, 43-42, to begin the season on Aug. 28.

Whether it's Big Red, Madonna or Brooke, no one ever said working hard was fun.

No one ever said working hard was easy.

No one ever said being the best in the state was something for everyone.

Because, if it was, each team would be doubled the number of athletes in uniform.

There is a reason the Indian Creek football program went from almost 60 players in uniform following a 2-8 year to almost half that size after a 6-4 campaign.

While working hard does not put a lot of smiles on your face, the outcome of all that hard work can.

Success is never guaranteed with hard work, it's just easier to access with that hard work.

Jack Nicklaus said for years that "the harder I worked, the luckier I got."

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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