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St. C. and regional titles becoming synonomous

November 17, 2012
By SETH STASKEY - Times Leader Sports Editor (sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

It doesn't matter if you're talking about football, basketball or even checkers, winning an Ohio regional is hard.

This is a mighty big state with a lot of teams in this geographic region and to stand tall in what seems like every sport is almost unheard of.

St. Clairsville, however, is making it look way too easy because of late, it seems like all the Red Devils do is win regionals.

Regardless the sport, season or year, the Red Devils just continue to get it done in a big way.

When you consider that St. C. has brought home a regional championship trophy in three sports and a runnerup trophy in another, it's amazing, because there are fewer than 400 students walking the halls.

After Friday's hard-earned victory against Johnstown-Monroe in the Division IV, Region 15 championship game, the Red Devils have claimed regional titles this calendar year in boys basketball, boys track and now football. They were runnersup in the regional in baseball, losing to only the eventual state champion in Wheelersburg.

"There's no doubt we have talented kids, but we have great support, great coaches in all sports and communication and cooperation with everybody," said St. C. head coach Brett McLean. "That's something that can be really powerful if everyone stays focused with what we're trying to accomplish with our kids."

Winning a district championship is challenging enough, but winning three regionals? It's not about just one player or coach, either. It's about the entire school and community because it takes many people to reach these sorts of levels.

I've covered all three of the St. C. regional championships in the past school year and McLean wasn't the only one talking about that. Basketball coach Kim Clifford and track coach Ben Frye both said the same things about the support from the community and school being as powerful as the talented players.

Since a lot of the faces, who suited up Friday night in Zanesville, play other sports later in the school year, don't be shocked if the Red Devils find themselves in the winners' circle a couple more times before this senior class accepts its diploma in May.

I know I wouldn't be shocked.

SPEAKING OF WINNING

As we alluded to above, many of the same faces show up on these Red Devils' teams.

A former area coach made a great point on Twitter Friday night during the course of the game about one certain Red Devil player.

The coach said if he were a college coach, he'd love to have Jerrid Marfhefka on his team because he's a winner.

There is absolutely no denying it, either. Marhefka is the only member of the Red Devils' squad, who has strongly contributed to all three of the aforementioned regional titles and is embarking on yet another state tournament competition.

Marhefka caught two touchdowns Friday night, including the play that McLean called "the biggest of our season" in the fourth quarter. He had numerous big baskets in the Red Devils' regional basketball tournament championship game and he ran key legs on the Red Devils' sprint relays that qualified for the state meet and won the regional title in the process.

Many of the Red Devils' key players have been a part of two regional titles in either one sport or another on top football, but Marhefka has raised the bar for three-sport athletes at St. Clairsville.

THE PERFECT DIVISION

The Final Four in Division IV is the perfect four teams for the tournament. Maybe not according to all of the people, but according to their records.

All four of the teams in this weekend's semifinals are 13-0, meaning there's a 15-0 guaranteed for one of those teams.

St. Clairsville will tangle with Norwayne and the other side of the bracket finds many people's favorite Columbus Bishop Hartley, which features Notre Dame recruit Jacob Matuska, whose parents are St. John Central graduates, taking on high-scoring Clarksville Clinton-Massie, which is located in southwest Ohio.

Also included are the last two state champions in the division. Hartley won the title in 2010 and Norwayne edged Kenton last season in a game that many believe was the best state final of the weekend.

WHERE'S THE GAME GOING TO BE?

I've fielded that question countless time via email, text and social media in the last 24 hours.

That's the million dollar question, but the only people who know the answer currently are sitting in the OHSAA office determining those sites now that all 12 semifinal games are established.

Obviously, there's a lot of guessing that's going on. I made my guess of New Philadelphia on Friday night and I am sticking with it. A season ago, Norwayne took on Johnstown-Monroe at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium.

It's geographically friendly for both schools, which is the ultimate deciding factor, and it's fan friendly with ample space and accommodations.

Some people mentiond Fawcett Stadium, which makes sense, but the Division IV State Championship Game will be played there, so the OHSAA most likely wouldn't assign a semifinal there. Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium makes sense, too.

My guess is regardless where the game is the fans are going to show up in droves and the players are going to be ready to play.

ELITE COMPANY

In leading the Red Devils to the regional title, Brett McLean joins some elite Ohio Valley coaching company.

Counting McLean, there are only four active Ohio Valley grid coaches that have claimed a regional title. The others are Reno Saccoccia, Dave Bruney, Jay Circosta and Mark Holenka.

LOOK FOR MORE

Make sure to follow the Red Devils' trip to the state semifinals all week in The Times Leader. A complete preview package will be contained in the Thanksgiving Day paper .Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com or on Twitter @TLSportsSeth

 
 

 

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