Football coaches constantly discuss the importance of winning the turnover battle and getting big plays from their special teams.
Based on the results of Week 7, it would appear those comments are more than just your typical coach-speak.
Consider the following:
GETTING DEFENSIVE — Big Red’s Johnnie Blue makes a tackle during Steubenville’s 36-19 loss to Salesianum at Harding Stadium.
-- Ron Gardner
Catholic Central intercepted three passes and recovered four fumbles in its 56-0 victory over Barnesville. In its last five games, Central's defense has allowed just 18 points and posted two shutouts.
Indian Creek blew open its game with Union Local when Blake Roar returned the second half kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. Roar, who wears a lot of hats for the Redskins, appeared to be hemmed in along the Creek sideline but weaved his way through the Jets' defenders. Creek also recovered two fumbles and picked off three passes in its 33-13 Buckeye 8 victory.
Weir High lost three fumbles in its 39-6 loss to Magnolia.
Beallsville picked off four Toronto passes (one resulted in a pick six) in earning a 32-18 victory on the home turf. The loss put a major damper on the Red Knights' playoff hopes.
Madonna turned a couple of turnovers and a nifty punt return into points as it blasted Bishop Donahue 48-20. Elliot Nero returned a Bishop punt 47 yards for a score. As Doug Taylor noted, "once we got the two turnovers in the third quarter and Nero got the big punt return, we rolled. It was just an avalanche after that."
Big Red watched Salesianum notch two first-quarter interception returns for touchdowns on homecoming at Harding Stadium. The Sallies also turned a Big Red fumble into points as they left town with a 36-19 victory.
One to remember:
Derrick Stickles was spot on when he said "it's a shame there has be a loser" following the three-overtime thriller between his Edison club and Harrison Central.
The teams combined for 765 yards of offense. The game, won by the Huskies 49-47, was decided by one defensive stop. The Huskies stuffed a two-point conversion run at the goal line to preserve the homecoming victory.
"What a great high school game," Harrison Central coach Justin Kropka said.
Quarterback David Miser threw for 244 yards and three scores to pace the winners. Dalton Rutter was on the receiving end of 12 (a season-high for receivers in The Herald Star/Daily Times coverage area) for 142 and a touchdown. Nate Olmstead caught six for 70 and two scores.
Ethan Shannon ran for 210 yards on 30 trips for the Wildcats. He had one rushing touchdown and returned a fumble for a 48-yard score. Nolan Marcus ran for 58 and three touchdowns. He also passed for 86 and two more six-pointers.
Rich Springer caught five tosses from Marcus, one catch producing a touchdown.
Madonna had 406 rushing stripes in its victory over Bishop Donahue.
Ross Comis and Nero accounted for 379 of the Blue Don total. Comis toted the pigskin 22 times for 231 and a pair of touchdowns. One of Comis' scores came via a 74-yard sprint. Nero added 148 and four rushing scores.
For the season, Comis has 797 rushing yards and Nero 789. Comis has crossed the goal 17 times while Nero has found the house 10 times.
The Blue Dons will tangle with another state-ranked opponent this week when Clarksburg Notre Dame (5-1) comes to town.
Quarterback Jonathan Woodbury joined Roar in the 100-yard rushing club as Creek improved to 5-2. Woodbury finished with 102 on 12 trips while Roar added 104 on just nine carries and scored twice.
Roar tops all running backs in the coverage area with 843 yards.
Brenton Colabella threw for 180 and speedy senior Khalil Jones rushed for 151 in Central's win at Barnesville.
Colabella completed 12 of 13 attempts, four were good for touchdowns. The Crusaders scored on eight of their nine first half possessions. He also ran for a score. The CCHS senior is one of two active quarterbacks in the area to have surpassed the 6,000-yard mark for his career. He is closing in on 7,000. Bellaire product Nate Davis is the only other OVAC quarterback who has thrown for more than 7,000 according to information from the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Jones had a rushing touchdown and caught a Colabella pass for another. As is generally the case, his score via the ground was one to remember. He took a pitch right and zig-zagged his way to paydirt from 62 yards out. Along the way, he left several would-be tacklers in his wake with a handful of stop-and-go moves.
Honoring the past:
Big Red celebrated homecoming and alumni weekend during Friday's game with Salesianum. Fans attending were able to enjoy the alumni band completed with majorettes from the past and also watch former cheerleaders perform on the sidelines.
Five players from past teams served as honorary captains. They included:
Joe Panotchi, who was a captain in 1942. His team, coached by Howard Brinker, went 9-1, its only loss coming to Massillon.
Ray Terry, Rich Ranallo, Ron Mazzaferro and Harry Wilson from the 1962 Big Red squad. Coached by Ray Hoyman, the 1962 Big Red also went 9-1, falling to Toledo Central Catholic in week 9. The 1962 team earned a 14-8 victory at Massillon, the last Big Red squad to beat the Tigers on their home turf.
Terry went on to play at Indiana University, Ranallo at Kent State, Mazzaferro at Tennessee and Wilson at Nebraska. Wilson earned All-American honors during his years with the Cornhuskers and played in the Sugar, Cotton and Orange bowls.
Battle of the bridge I:
Catholic Central will play its first battle of the bridge Saturday when Weir High visits Harding Stadium. The Crusaders then will travel to Weirton for a huge date with Madonna.
Central is 7-0 for the first time since 1991. That Crusaders squad, coached by Gregg Bahen, won its first seven before losing to Big Red. Central went on to finish 10-3, reaching the Division VI semifinals.
No CCHS club has started a season 8-0 since the state championship squad of 1971.
Back at it:
Following its mandatory bye week, Brooke will return to action Friday and for just the second time this season, the Bruins will meet an opponent that is not state-ranked.
Parkersburg South will bring a 2-4 mark to Wellsburg. For the Bruins, Friday's date with the Patriots will be their final home game of the campaign. Sean Blumette's 1-5 club will close with road games at Weir, John Marshall and Cabell Midland.
South snapped its four-game losing streak by knocking off John Marshall 42-32.
Joe Eitel says:
Catholic Central, according to Ohio computer ratings guru Joe Eitel, remains No. 3 in this week's Region 25 standings. The Crusaders trail unbeaten Shadyside and Glouster Trimble.
Toronto is 18th in the same region.
Big Red, now 5-2, is fifth in Region 13. There are no unbeaten squads in the Division IV region. Philo tops the poll followed by Licking Valley, Indian Valley and Zanesville Maysville.
Indian Creek is eighth and Edison 11th.
Reno Saccoccia's Big Red faces must-win situations on the road in order to stay in the playoff chase. Big Red travels to Ursuline Friday and Wheeling Park during Week 9.
Harrison Central is 10th in Region 15. Ursuline holds the seventh spot in the same region.
Running wild: 231, Comis, Madonna, 22 carries, 2 touchdowns; 210, Shannon, Edison, 30 carries, touchdown; 151, Jones, Catholic Central, 6 carries, touchdown; 148, Nero, Madonna, 15 carries, 4 touchdowns; 122, Chez Glenn, Toronto, 12 carries; 104, Roar, Indian Creek, 9 carries, 2 touchdowns; 102, Woodbury, Indian Creek, 12 carries
Gunslingers: 244, Miser, Harrison Central, 22 of 28, 3 scores; 180, Colabella, Catholic Central, 12 of 13, 4 scores; 138, William Larch, Weir, 12 of 27, score; 86, Marcus, Edison, 10 of 21, 2 scores; 80, Mandela Lawrence-Burke, Big Red, 5 of 9, score
Hands team: 12, Rutter, Harrison Central, 142, touchdown; 6, Olmstead, Harrison Central, 70, 2 touchdowns; 5, Springer, Edison, touchdown; 5, C. Glenn, Toronto, 27; 5, Roar, Indian Creek, 30; 4, Niko Petrides, Big Red, 50; 4, Dylan Dokes, Buckeye Local, 26