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Big Red back at home after huge road win

October 18, 2012
By ED LOOMAN - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - Big Red will continue its drive for a berth in the Region 11 playoffs Friday when Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute comes to town.

The Blue Devils, based in Scarborough, Ontario but part of the Toronto school district, will bring a 3-1 record to Harding Stadium for their first meeting with Big Red.

Reno Saccoccia's squad jumped back into the Division III postseason picture following last week's 20-14 come-from-behind victory over Morgantown. Big Red stands at 6-2 and rated sixth in the region.

Laurier, named for a former Canadian prime minister, owns victories over Leaside, East York and Birchmount. The Blue Devils, considered a Division I school by Ohio standards, fell to Macdonald.

"I know they are really looking forward to coming down here," Saccoccia said of the Blue Devils. "I've talked to their coach several times and he is really up on our rules. Other teams we've played from Canada were not real familiar with the differences.

"This is their third good year in a row and I'm sure they will be ready to get after it. And, thank goodness for them or we wouldn't have had a game."

The Blue Devils, according to Saccoccia, employ a "wide open offense, a spread attack."

"Defensively, they'll play a 4-3 but they'll have to modify their defense some since in their league, they play 12 people," the Big Red mentor said.

Nick Belfour directs the Laurier attack. In his first high school football game ever, he ran for a score and threw for another as the Blue Devils opened with a 21-6 victory over East York. He passed for two more in the win against Leaside. Devontae Mckiel-Riley is Laurier's top rusher and also Belfour's favorite target.

The Laurier defense is led by Colby Saint-Jean, who has three interceptions in four games.

Big Red is coming off a performance against Morgantown that Saccoccia described as being "much better in the second half."

"We got off to a bad start and they were able to score on their first two possessions. Starting with their third possession of the game, our defense played very well."

The Mohigans compiled 135 yards on their first two touches and just 89 the rest of the way.

Through eight games, the Big Red defense is allowing 205 yards (82 on the ground and 123 via the air) per outing and 16 points. The 205 total is the best among defenses in The Herald Star/Daily Times coverage area.

Offensively, Saccoccia felt his Big Red, "played well with the exception of one bad series."

"We didn't always finish but we played physical football particularly when it came to keeping a drive going. We had six drives of more than five and a half minutes. That really helped us control the ball and cover for our lack of depth."

Senior Dashon Redman had the best game of his Big Red career, collecting 177 yards and scoring two touchdowns. He also ran for a two-point conversion. Junior Michael Jett added 82 stripes as Big Red rolled to 283 on the ground.

Redman now has 520 stripes on 102 trips and six touchdowns.

Corey Stinson has hit 85 of his 154 passing attempts for 987 yards and eight touchdowns. Matt Petrella continues to lead the Big Red in receiving with 29 catches for 287 stripes and five scores. Petrella's reception total is second best in the area.

Big Red will close the regular season by hosting Akron Buchtel.