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More than one team is allowed to be good

October 10, 2011
By SETH STASKEY - Times Leader Sports Editor (sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

It never fails in sports.

Everyone wants to compare teams, eras, generations to find out who's the best individual player or team.

Regardless, of what the sport is - football, basketball, baseball, golf, etc. - or what the level is - high school, college or professional, sports fans like to make comparisons.

And as is usually the case, no one ever seems to come to a consenus because it's just too difficult. Fans of teams and players always have their own biased opinion and if you ask those who coached or played, they're viewpoint could be a bit skewed as well.

It's tough to compare generations because of the way sports have changed in terms of rules, training methods, approach to the sport, etc.

Last week, whether it was on message boards, on the radio or at the local water cooler, the comparisons between St. Clairsville and Steubenville were unavoidable.

As I've said already, comparisons are part of sports and that's part of what makes it interesting, but in terms of high school football, what's the point?

Unfortunately, we're a society that's so consumed in high school sports that basically all we have to talk about is who would beat whom because we'll never know.

And since we'll never know, why don't we just leave it at that? Is it too much for there to be two good teams? Or three? Or four? Or whatever the number?

More than one team is allowed to be good. And more than one team is allowed to have a nice season. Aren't they?

Steubenville has long been the kingpin of Ohio Valley football and Big Red has done nothing this season to be knocked off their perch. St. Clairsville's explosiveness and playmakers are well-documented and its margin of victory has been impressive.

What would happen if the two played?

We have absolutely no idea about on the field because both are fine teams with a lot of fine football players and fine coaches.

I don't think the teams or coaches care what "might" happen. The only thing they might be paying attention to each other about is the OVAC standings because currently Big Red holds a slim lead in 4A.

One thing we can say for certain if Big Red and the Red Devils were going to clash in the future is: St. C. A.D. Kelly Rine and Steubenville A.D. Fred Heatherington would probably be the happiest guys on the planet for two reasons.

The first being the game would be an absolute cash cow for both teams. And secondly, they wouldn't have to answer the questions or hear the rumors about the possibility of the two squaring off with one another.

Since the schools don't play, they're in different OHSAA divisions and have absolutely no chance of playing down the road this season, let's just sit back and enjoy the fact that the OVAC has two really good teams who have legitimate hopes of being involved in an extended postseason run.

Is that too much to ask?

POWER POLL

Big School

1. Steubenville - No change here again as Big Red just continues to take care of business in a big way. Big Red is a factory. They crank out talented players and good teams year after year. Steubenville has one really tough test still ahead when Massillon visits Harding Stadium in Week 9. The OHSAA computer doesn't like Steubenville as well as it has in the past since Big Red is ranked third in Region 11.

2. St. Clairsville - Talk about teams just getting it done and doing it impressively. The Red Devils haven't been challenged since escaping at Crestview in Week 1. Since then, it's been blowout after blowout. The Red Devils' explosiveness and athleticism has been well-documented, but I still firmly believe their defense is one of the most unheralded groups. Since the offense scores so frequently and quickly, the defense spends a lot of time on the field, but continues to shine.

3. Cambridge - The Bobcats keep plodding along as they improved to 6-1 this past weekend. The Bobcats, who are leading the OVAC 5A title chase, took down winless East Liverpool, 44-7. The OHSAA computer poll doesn't recognize the Bobcats as well as we do since they're currently 12th in the Region 11 standings. That's partly because the combined teams of Cambridge's victories is 9-32. However, the home stretch of opponents for Cambridge boasts a 14-7 record and that stretch begins Friday at powerful Dover.

4. Indian Creek - The Redskins are one of the hottest teams around right now. Their defense is playing at an extremely high level and their offense has been efficient. The Creek is 5-2 with its two losses coming to teams with a combined 13-0 record. Indian Creek opened some eyes with its victory against Martins Ferry last week. The Redskins are currently ninth in the OHSAA computer poll.

5. Buckeye Local - The Panthers are two points from being undefeated. After dropping back-to-back heartbreakers, Buckeye Local got well in a big way against Union Local. The Panthers' strong ground game will be tested this week by St. Clairsville. The Panthers are another who aren't looking too good in the playoff chase as they begin the week in 19th. Obviously, they've got some big point games ahead when you consider St. C. this week and Indian Creek next before closing with Harrison Central.

Small School

1. Barnesville - The Shamrocks have been able to take care of business for the past seven weeks, but begin a rugged three-game stretch this week against Monroe Central in a game many have been pointing toward for several weeks. Barnesville's explosive playmakers will have to be just that if the Shamrocks hope to keep their quest for a perfect season alive. Barnesville will host Magnolia next week before traveling to Shadyside to end the season.

2. Linsly - I dropped the Cadets down a notch last week, but after seeing them destroy Bishop Ready and Western Reserve on the road the last two weeks, they have proven to me the Cadets are for real. When you talk about explosive players on offense, Linsly's got an abundance of talent. The Cadets' biggest test for the next couple of weeks could be keeping his players from looking ahead to the Wheeling Central game on the first Friday in November.

3. Wheeling Central - The Maroon Knights are really good, too. Central is a perfect 7-0 entering its bye week after pulling away from Shadyside last week. The Knights trailed at halftime for the first time, but showed their resolve in the second half. Geno Bianconni is one of the area's best tailbacks you've not heard much about. He and the Knights' spinner series just continues to gain yardage in bunches.

4. Monroe Central - The Seminoles are clicking on all cylinders. Despite playing on a slow track last week because of all of the rain taking toll on their field in Woodsfield, Coach Jay Circosta's team did what it had to do and pulled away from Shenandoah. Monroe Central hasn't lost since August and will receive the test this week at Barnesville. The Seminoles are currently second in a deep Region 17 poll and a win could bolster them into the top seed. On paper, this week appears to be the Seminoles' final true litmus test before the postseason since winless Frontier and Buckeye Trail (1-6) await in Weeks 9 and 10.

5. Shadyside, Beallsville (Tie) - It's only fitting these two share the fifth spot since Tigers' head coach Mark Holenka said the Tigers won in a tie against Beallsville in Week 6. Shadyside dropped a tough game at Wheeling Central, while the Blue Devils righted their ship impressively against Toronto. Shadyside will take to the road again this Friday when it treks to New Lexington to meet Lancaster Farfield Christian, which is currently 6-1. The Blue Devils, meanwhile, will host Bridgeport.

FICKLE FANS

It happens everywhere. Fans are fair-weathered, regardless of the sport or the team.

However, it seems to happen more in Ohio Valley football than anywhere.

A few years back, Mark Cisar led Union Local to back-to-back playoff berths using his high-powered, quick-strike, pass-happy offense.

He was the absolute toast of Morristown as a young, new-kid-on-the-block who was doing something new, different and exciting. Plus, he was winning.

Now, as the Jets are struggling with young kids playing at several key positions Cisar's being deemed a know-nothing?

This has been the column of questions, but, can we get serious?

Let's be real folks, Cisar and his staff didn't forget things about football. They're not coaching any differently, working any less hard or trying to lose games.

If you remember correctly, Union Local had opportunities to win each of its first three games, but have been beaten soundly since. Emotions are a huge part of sports and when a string of positives happens, it breeds positives and the same can be said for negatives.

Maybe the players should be held accountable for once.

Maybe Cisar's post-game quote after last week's Buckeye Local game referencing the players going through the motions was accurate.

Cisar and his staff are studying tapes, preparing and working to win each game. Maybe the players are content with losing?

I admire fans' desire to win, but at some point, they need to channel their emotions in different directions.

I've heard a cliche time and time again: 'Sometimes, it's not about the Xs and Os, but the Johnnies and the Joes."

INJURY UPDATES

Three of the area's premier playmakers, who've all been named T-L Athlete of the Week at one point this season, suffered injuries this past weekend.

As we're well aware, almost no area team can afford an injury to a key player.

Luckily, all three coaches confirmed to me late Sunday via text message that none of the injuries were as severe as once though.

Bellaire quarterback Spencer Badia, who left Saturday's double-OT win against Harrison with a wrist problem, is day-to-day, according to Jose Davis.

St. Clairsville tailback Jaylon Brown left Friday's blowout victory against Edison with a shoulder injury, which was originally thought to be a collarbone issue.

There was no fracture, but McLean and company will learn more as the week moves along.

River's Austin McConn was injured in the second half of the Pilots' big win at Bridgeport.

He was taken from Perkins Field in an ambulance, but Mike Flannery says the injury wasn't severe and it was just precautionary.

CONGRATS

We'd be remiss if we didn't offer our sincere congratulations to Cambridge head coach Rick Goodrich, who won his 100th game at the Bobcats' helm last week.

Also, congrats go out to McLean and his wife Victoria, who welcomed their third son, James Beau, into the world last Wednesday.

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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