CANTON - St. Clairsville has a storied football history.
While names like Jim Bradshaw, Tim Spencer and Shawn Vincent will forever resonate in the minds of those who've followed Red Devils' football for many years, the 2012 football team will be right there with those guys.
And deservedly so!
St. Clairsville senior Dan Monteroso is tackled after making one of his nine receptions during Friday’s Division IV?state title game in Canton.
Despite Friday's gut-wrenching, 46-36, setback in the Division IV State Championship Game to Clarksville Clinton-Massie, the Red Devils have nothing - and we mean absolutely nothing - to be ashamed of.
Obviously, the sting of Friday's loss will hurt for a while.
However, it's really not just being compassionate when you call these Red Devils champions.
Because while they might have hoisted the silver trophy high into the Stark County air, they earlier won the Buckeye 8, OVAC and just a couple of weeks ago pocketed the school's first regional title since 1986.
The positives - and there are countless - far outweigh the one negative of losing. Again, only time will allow that to come into focus.
The toughest part for head coach Brett McLean and his loyal, hard-working coaching staff isn't dealing with the loss. It's bidding a final farewell to a class of 14 talented, classy and dedicated seniors that set Friday's game as their goal as far back as seventh grade.
"These kids made it easy to come to work every day," McLean said. "From the first day in the summer until tonight, it's been a joy to be around these kids every day."
One of those seniors, Dan Monteroso, said that the Red Devils set out "to do special things this season."
Not sure there's anyone who can argue that they accomplished that.
On top of the victories and playoff run, this Red Devil squad was one of the best in Ohio Valley history on the stat sheet despite only playing a half most nights.
This team won't be judged by Friday's outcome, but instead it should be judged by the fact they won 38 games in four years and have firmly established St. Clairsville as one of the top programs in the Ohio Valley.
"We just wanted to come out and represent everyone from the Ohio Valley, Belmont County and St. Clairsville as well as we could," the always classy Monteroso said. "We just came up a little short this week."
As we've written in other pieces - about this and other sports - these kids are winners.
It doesn't matter if it's on the football field, basketball court, track, baseball field, wrestling mat or somewhere else, these kids have shined and created memories that'll last a lifetime.
While the Red Devils are obviously talented in terms of football, they're genuinely nice kids. I've been fortunate enough to get to know many of them through covering several other sports. That's a credit to their upbringings and families.
There were countless youngsters in the crowd at Fawcett Stadium who will look back at this 2012 season the way people my age look back at the 1986 team.
To the kids in St. Clairsville Elementary School, these Red Devils are heros.
McLean told us earlier in the week that his sons chase each other around the house playing football and use names of their favorite Red Devils while doing it.
Trust me, that's happening all over the place in the city of St. Clairsville.
These Red Devils' players have left a lasting mark on the entire community, school and program. Regardless if it's later this winter at a basketball game, this spring before graduation or 20 years from now at a reunion, that silver trophy will always be in the case and people will remember the ride the 2012 Red Devils took the entire Ohio Valley on that fall.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org