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Big Red, Creek seeking playoff victories

November 3, 2012
From staff reports

STEUBENVILLE - Big Red and Maysville are on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to Ohio football playoff experience.

Reno Saccoccia-coached clubs have qualified for the dance 25 times (tied for fifth-best in all-time playoff appearances with Youngstown Cardinal Mooney). Big Red has a playoff record of 46-21 and its victory total is sixth best.

First-year coach Craig Clarke has the Panthers in the postseason for the initial time in school history. The three and six seeds will battle in the first round of the Region 11 tournament at 7 p.m. today at Harding Stadium.

Earlier in the week, Clarke said playing Big Red in "Death Valley" will be an experience his players won't forget.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere for us to go into," he noted. "We're excited to go over there. I know one thing-our kids are ready."

The Panthers, who compete in the North Division of the Muskingum Valley League, went 9-1 under Clarke's guidance.

Clarke, who formerly served as an assistant in Coshocton, credited his senior class for spearheading the effort to adapt to a new offensive and defensive system.

The new offense features the Wing-T.

Wingback Jordan Hayes leads the Maysville attack with 980 yards on 165 rushes for nine touchdowns. He has compiled 1,093 all-purpose yards. Running back C.J. Harris has toted the pigskin 69 times, compiling 524 stripes and seven scores. He also has snared seven passes for 124 and two additional six-pointers. Harris also is a threat to throw the football, having hit on six of six attempts for 105 yards and four touchdowns.

Jacob Miller calls the signals for Maysville. During the regular season, he was 36 of 75 for 524 with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Wide receiver Justin Wilson has 24 catches for 326 yards and four scores.

"I've seen them on film and they appear to be a real steady ball club," Saccoccia said of the Panthers. "I didn't see them making mistakes or turning the ball over. They appear to be fundamentally sound with good size. Their kids look strong and they are well coached."

The 8-2 Big Red achieved one of its annual goals (hosting a first round game) thanks to a 21-18 come-from-behind victory over Akron Butchel. This playoff trip is the 12th straight for Saccoccia's crew.

"Our finish is good enough to get us where we are right now," Saccoccia said. "If you're 8-2, you want to be 9-1. And, if you are 9-1, you want to be 10-0. So, you're never really satisfied. Hopefully, us not being satisfied will carry into the playoffs.

"A lot of teams counted us out going into the Morgantown game. Our kids rose to the occasion and we played a great second half at Morgantown. Then, we played a good, physical four quarters against Butchel. What we have right now, we have earned. Sometimes you can go through the back door, but we earned the position we are in right now."

Indian Creek at

West Holmes, 7 p.m.

MILLERSBURG - Every team in the state of Ohio wishes they had the opportunity to play in Week 11, but only 192 schools over six divisions earn the right.

For the second straight year, and third time in school history, the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 5A champion Indian Creek Redskins are one of those teams as they travel to Millersburg to take on Division III Region 11 second-seed West Holmes tonight.

A win gives the Redskins (9-1) their first ever playoff victory and a school record for wins, but even with all that at stake it's just another day at the office for head coach Andrew Connor's squad.

"It's kind of cliche, but we're stressing that it's just a football game," he said. "We're preparing how we've been preparing all season. Tuesday was a normal Tuesday for us. It's nice to still be playing and it's important for the school, but on the same token we need to prepare how we did for the past 10 games.

"We're doing the same thing we did every week, nothing has changed."

The Knights, who finished seventh in the final Associated Press poll, come in with a 9-1 record after claiming a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference crown with Mansfield Senior and Mansfield Madison.

This is their fifth playoff berth, going 4-4 in their four previous trips.

West Holmes success depends greatly on its rushing attack. The Knights are led by running back Layne Perone who has rushed for 1,612 yards (34 shy of the school record) and a school record 26 touchdowns. Also expected to see their share of carries are Garrett Mackey, Grant Hay, and Luke Ogi.

"We broke them down statistically and 88 percent of the time they run ball," said Connor.

"Biggest thing is to be fundamentally sound and read our keys. They run the Wing T, but they run it out of a fullhouse backfield.

"We need to read the offensive linemen because the quarterback hides the ball great, and if we get caught watching the backfield we'll be in trouble. We need to do a good job of getting people to the ball so they don't break tackles."

The Redskins defense is led in the middle by stellar linebacker Shane Winland and his 90 total tackles, including 10 for a loss and three sacks.

He's also has a pair of interceptions and forced fumbles.

Montel and Monty McClelland have been standouts on the defensive line for Connor. Montel McClelland has 47 total tackles including 10 sacks and 28 hurries while Monty McClelland 42 total tackles including four sacks and 10 hurries.

The secondary foursome of Frankie Kamarec, Alex Young, Logan Woods, and Blake Roar have combined for 25 pass break ups and six interceptions.

The Redskins have give up just 1,101 yards rushing this year, much against back ups at the end of big wins.

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