Crusaders at home, Big Red on road in playoffs

Catholic Central and Big Red will both be in action this weekend when the 2013 Ohio football playoffs begin.

Meanwhile, Madonna will go on the road for another meetin’ of the unbeatens.

Central, thanks to its 8-0 start, earned the right to host a Division VII, Region 25 quarterfinal contest. The home playoff game is Central’s first since 2005.

Racine Southern will make the 170-mile trip from Meigs County for Saturday’s battle at Harding Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The Crusaders and Tornadoes both stand at 8-2. Central finished fourth in the region with Southern in the five hole.

Glouster Trimble is the top seed in Region 25 and will host Beallsville. Shadyside, No. 2, will welcome Fairfield Christian Academy from Lancaster and Caldwell will visit number three Malvern.

“Our kids need to realize it’s a new season,” Central’s Steve Daley said following Saturday’s 24-0 loss to Magnolia. “The regular season is done and we have to move past the last two weeks. If you lose now, you are done.

“Our goal was to get back to the playoffs and go further than just one week. We have to go back to working hard, get ourselves mentally right and prepared for our opponent. Racine is a big physical team that likes to run the ball. We need to fix things, heal up and get ready to go.”

A season ago, Central reached the Division VI playoffs, falling in the opening round to Mogadore.

Racine Southern is making its first trip to the postseason. The Tornadoes have fallen to Wahama, W.Va., and unbeaten Glouster Trimble. Wahama is 8-1 and ranked eighth in the West Virginia Class A poll.

Southern finished its regular season with a 34-0 victory over archrival Reedsville Eastern. Tyler Barton keys the Racine attack. Through nine games, he had rushed for 1,194 yards. Defensively, the Tornadoes have posted five shutouts.

“I’m happy the kids get to host a first round game,” Daley added. “It’s great to play one more time at home, especially for our seniors. Hopefully, we can do a better job next week than we did this week.”

Big Red is in the playoffs for the 13th straight years. Reno Saccoccia’s 6-4 club finished eighth in Division IV, Region 13. The Red will travel to top-seeded Licking Valley (8-2) Friday. The game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Big Red has not opened the playoffs away from Harding Stadium since 1994.

In other Region 13 action, Indian Valley, which finished second, will entertain Bloom Carroll, John Glenn will visit No. 3 Philo and Maysville, the fourth seed, hosts Bexley.

The Panthers lost their finale to Granville 30-23. Philo also defeated Licking Valley earlier in the season. Randy Baughman’s Panthers own victories over Tri-Valley, which finished 8-2 and made the Division III playoffs, and Licking Heights, which went 9-1 and qualified for the Division II postseason.

Baughman has been at Licking Valley since 1982 and the school’s stadium is named after the coach. Big Red fans should allow roughly two hours and five minutes for the drive on Friday.

Quarterback Grant Garber directs the Panther attack. He threw for 350 yards in the Granville loss. Garber established a school passing record this season, throwing for more than 2,000 yards. Ty Griffith caught seven of his passes against Granville while Hunter Hartshorn paces the ground game.

Big Red and Licking Valley faced each other in the 2005 playoffs, Big Red earning a 33-7 victory.

“Our kids have played well all year, we’ve just had to take the bitter with the sweet,” Big Red’s Reno Saccoccia said. “I always talk about getting up, keep fighting but we’ve experienced it this year and they kept getting up and kept fighting.”

Big Red’s four losses came to two Ohio playoff teams (Massillon and Youngstown Ursuline), Salesianum (8-1), which is heading to the playoffs in Delaware, and 8-1 Wheeling Park, which will compete in the West Virginia Class AAA playoffs.

Madonna’s Eliott Nero was spot on when he said “every week is going to be a grind for us. Every team is going to give us their best shot.”

Nero’s comments came after the 9-0 Blue Dons held off Toronto 41-20.

Doug Taylor’s club, West Virginia’s top Class A squad, will surely get Clay-Batttelle’s best shot Friday. The Cee Bees, also 9-0, are ninth in the Class A standings.

Clay-Battelle is located in Blacksville, W.Va., an hour and 40 minute drive from Weirton. C-B is coming off a 36-34 victory over Clarksburg Notre Dame.

The Class A powers have three common opponents – ND, Bishop Donahue and Cameron. The Dons pinned a 40-2 defeat on C-B in 2012.

Double grand man:

Speaking of Madonna, senior quarterback Ross Comis passed for 226 yards and two scores in the victory over Toronto.

He now has 1,123 passing stripes for the season to go along with 1,000 rushing yards. Comis has rushed for 21 scores and passed for 11 more.

Nero finished with 72 rushing yards, giving him 1,183 for the season and 17 scores.

Will Bowser caught six Comis tosses while Marcello Biondillo grabbed four for 88 and a touchdown.

Great finish:

Jonathan Woodbury made his final appearance in an Indian Creek uniform one to remember.

The senior quarterback ran for 216 yards and passed for 108 more as the Redskins clipped Edison 36-22 to retain the Travelers Trophy in the annual Route 43 Bowl.

Fellow senior Blake Roar added 91 stripes on 15 totes. He finished the season with 1,149 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns as Creek closed with a 6-4 mark.

Woodbury and Roar were two of 14 seniors on Andrew Connor’s club.

“The one thing that I’m most proud of is our seniors for battling so hard,” Connor said. “They battled so hard all year and they deserved to go out with a win.”

Great finish II:

Pound for pound and inch for inch, Big Red’s Bryan Pierro may be one of the toughest players in the Ohio Valley.

The senior defensive back/wide receiver closed his Harding Stadium career in style Friday as Big Red whipped Renaissance Christian Academy 27-14.

Pierro caught six passes for 57 yards and a touchdown (he hauled in a Mandela Lawrence-Burke toss for 32 stripes). He also made a key catch on the Red’s first scoring drive.

Big Red’s second touchdown (scored by Pierro) was set up when Pierro recovered an onside kick. Defensively, Pierro recorded an interception.

“He’s been here since he was probably 3 or 4 years old,” Saccoccia said of Pierro. “I’m glad we got to shut the lights out in Harding Stadium with the great game he had.”

Great finish III:

Nolan Marcus and his Edison teammates fell short against archrival Indian Creek, but the senior quarterback had an outstanding season.

Marcus threw for 166 and three scores against the Redskins. For the campaign, he recorded 2,086 yards of offense. He passed for 1,590 and 20 touchdowns while rushing for 496 and eight more scores.

“He did a great job with everything,” Edison coach Derrick Stickles said of his senior signal caller. “To watch him grow, it’s been incredible. He grew from a boy into a man.”

Rich Springer was on the receiving end of five Marcus aerials in the Creek game. He finished his season with 30 grabs for 464 yards.

Great finish IV:

Junior quarterback William Larch had a monster night as Weir closed with a 49-33 loss to East Liverpool.

He recorded 389 yards of offense (179 rushing and 210 passing) as the Red Riders finished with a 3-7 mark.

Clarence Bennett grabbed six Larch passes for 102. Jo Jo Rice had three catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. Kam Davis added a 90-yard kick-off return. He also collected 113 rushing stripes.

Great finish V:

Harrison Central compiled nearly 300 yards of offense in downing Buckeye Local 30-14 to finish at 5-5.

“We’ve got to be happy with these kids,” coach Justin Kropka said after his Huskies captured the V.A.L.E.S. Trophy. “How could you not?”

David Miser wrapped up his outstanding season by throwing for 105 yards and a score. Miser finished with 1,859 and 17 scores. Dalton Rutter had four catches, giving him an area-best 42 for the season. Nate Olmstead finished with 39, second best in the area.

Nate Maykowski led the Huskie ground game with 101 and three touchdowns.

Nearing a grand:

Brooke’s Nick Ossman needs 98 stripes in the season finale at Cabell Midland in order to join the 1,000-yard rushing club.

The senior tailback collected 158 in Friday’s tough loss at John Marshall. He had three touchdown runs among his 14 carries. Ossman now has 908 and 12 scores.

Bright future:

Toronto gave Madonna all it could handle before falling 41-20.

“This was by far our best game of the season,” Red Knights head coach Eric Meek stated. “I think our future here is really bright.”

The Red Knights dropped the curtain at 5-5. All five losses came to teams headed to the playoffs (Madonna, Catholic Central, Shadyside, Wellsville and Beallsville).

Chez Glenn finished his high school career by crossing the goal for his 12th rushing touchdown of the season. C. Glenn collected 721 rushing stripes for Toronto.

Blaze Glenn, the sophomore quarterback, had 1,250 total yards of offense (465 rushing and 785 passing). He threw for eight scores and ran for nine more.

Top stats:

Running wild: 216, Woodbury, Indian Creek, 21 carries, touchdown; 179, Larch, Weir, 179, 20 carries, 3 touchdowns; 158, Ossman, Brooke, 14 carries, 3 touchdowns; 113, Davis, Weir, seven carries; 101, Maykowski, Harrison Central, 22 carries, 3 touchdowns; 91, Roar, Indian Creek, 2 touchdowns

Gunslingers: 226, Comis, Madonna, 17 of 23, 2 scores; 210, Larch, Weir, 15 of 30, score; 166, Marcus, Edison, 12 of 21, 3 scores; 125, Chase Hopkins, Buckeye Local, 11 of 26, score; 108, Woodbury, Indian Creek, 8 of 13, 108; 105, Miser, Harrison Central, 5 of 11, score

Hands team: 6, Pierro, Big Red, 57, touchdown; 6, Bennett, Weir, 102; 6, Bowser, Madonna, 72; 5, Dylan Dokes, Buckeye Local, 33; 5, Springer, Edison, 46; 5, Nate Stewart, Toronto, 40; 4, Rutter, Harrison Central, 94, touchdown; 4, Biondillo, Madonna, 88, touchdown; 4, Nero, Madonna, 32.