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River offense makes up for lost time in a big way

September 26, 2011
By SETH STASKEY - Times Leader Sports Editor (sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

Last week, we wrote about the River Pilots being in an offensive funk after being shutout three straight weeks.

Coach Mike Flannery must have pushed all of the right buttons last week because his Pilots didn't just score, but they exploded. And they did so without the services of starting quarterback Cody Caldwell, who was injured.

The Pilots are an up-and-coming team. Flannery thought before the season his team had a chance to be much improved, and he was correct.

Unfortunately, the Pilots' growing pains sent them into the aforementioned swoon on offense and that left a lot of people searching for answers.

The most impressive part about the Pilots was their resiliency. They kept battling and seemingly never pointed fingers or got down on each other. Hardwork paid off.

When it comes to the Pilots, keep in mind: they're an extremely young football team still and appear primed for a big, breakout season in 2012.

However, Flannery and the Pilots are still totally focused on this season.

Again, I firmly believe River has a chance to be a big-time spoiler down the stretch of the season and last week's overtime victory against Caldwell was a devastating blow to the Redskins.

This week's challenge gets no easier as upstart Zanesville Rosecrans comes to Hannibal.

The Bishops have been impressive at times, but the Pilots' defense has been up to the challenge each week.

With the offense seemingly finding something that works, maybe the Pilots can catch fire and put together a nice run in the second half of the season, which sees them play just one team (Rosecrans) that currently has a winning record.

POWER POLL

Small School

1. Barnesville - The Shamrocks haven't been hammering anyone, but they've remained steady. They hit the midway point unscathed and the schedule in the second half gets steadily more difficult, including a dangerous road trip to Caldwell this Friday.

2. Linsly - The Cadets rested their well-oiled machine with a bye week. This team is worth checking out if you like explosive offenses. Linsly will battle with Columbus Bishop Ready this weekend.

3. Wheeling Central - There's been no better on-the-field story this season than the Knights. They've cruised to a 5-0 start with a team that very few expected much from this season. Coach Mike Young's team has settled in with sophomore Parker Henry at quarterback and have it going. The Knights have a tough second-half schedule, but that's nothing new at Central.

4. Monroe Central - When you're talking about teams that have it going, the Seminoles have to be mentioned. Coach Jay Circosta's club has discovered the ground game again and continue to play rugged defense en route to 4-1 on the season. The Seminoles are on the road at Magnolia this week, which is coming off its bye week.

5. Beallsville - We really like the make-up of the Blue Devils. They're versatile on offense and have demonstrated a solid ability to run the football with Brandyn Heath and Grahamm Dauch, while junior Teryn Jarrett is a more than a capable passer. A big test awaits the Blue Devils this week at Shadyside.

Just Missed: Shadyside (3-2), Bishop Donahue (4-1).

Big School

1. Steubenville - If this poll was based on a points' system, Big Red would have definitely extended its grasp on the top spot. Big Red went to Youngstown and punched Ursuline in the mouth. Steubenville's defense is stingy and its offense is, as always, highly efficient.

2. St. Clairsville - The Red Devils' Express has been rolling. The Devils are scoring at more than a 40-points per game clip and their defense is one of the most unheralded in the area. Coach Brett McLean's team continues to display all of its weapons in a bevy of ways.

3. Martins Ferry - The Purple Riders are another team that's starting to hit its stride. The Riders easily took care of their business last week and showed a little more of a passing game, which head coach Dave Bruney admits his team's going to have to utilize as the season continues to move along. Running, however, is still the name of the game for the Riders. Another tough test this weekend lies ahead in 4-1 Buckeye Local.

4. Cambridge - The Bobcats, who lead OVAC Class 5A, tasted their first defeat of the season, but there's no shame in losing to Sheridan. However, the key will be seeing how well the Bobcats bounce back. The Bobcats host Marietta this weekend.

5. Oak Glen - The Golden Bears have just kept plugging along and are now 4-1 on the season entering a game with Weir High. The Golden Bears have a strong running game and their defense has performed well.

Just Missed: Buckeye Local (4-1), Indian Creek (3-2).

BREATHING A SIGH OF RELIEF

There are a lot of Division V teams in the state of Ohio probably getting a good chuckle as well weekly enjoyment of seeing the Youngstown Ursuline Irish continue to pile up losses.

The Irish, who have won the last three state titles, dropped to 1-4 after dropping a tough setback to Steubenville last Friday. Once again, I learned the difficult way, that it's not smart picking against Big Red, but that's another story.

Locally, we're sure that while they're obviously strictly focused on their own teams and taking care of business each week, Barnesville and Monroe Central are amongst some of the teams especially happy with the Ursuline struggles.

You see, the OHSAA placed those two local teams in Region 17 this season, which is where Ursuline is located. Both the Shamrocks and Seminoles would be heading for the postseason is it started today and if either is fortunate enough to qualify after week 10 and earn a home game, Ursuline isn't a team you'd want to see coming to town in the opening round.

CUT THE MUSIC

I am all about atmosphere at sporting events. And I know it's become quite popular at colleges and now it's trickling down to high school to blast music just before the home team takes the field on a Friday night.

That's fine for when the team is waiting to come onto the field, but in my opinion, the music needs to be cut as soon as the band begins to play the fight song for when the players take the field.

First off, the band is playing the school's fight song, which all of the home fans can enjoy. Looking at the crowds at today's high school sporting events indicates to me, some of the musical choices of the crowd and the players are slightly different.

However, most importantly, why drown out the band? Those kids deserve their moment as well. I find it highly disrespectful to the band members and the directors to continue to play the music on the loud speaker as the fight song is playing.

PINK RIBBON DECALS

Once again this year, the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference and Wheeling Hospital have partnered to promote breast cancer awareness through the month of October.

Wheeling Hospital sent out pink ribbon helmet decals to every football-playing schools in the OVAC to be placed on their helmet. This is the second straight season the players will show their support for the deadly disease.

The calendar turns to October on Saturday, so the ribbons should be on the helmets this week or by week seven at the latest.

Kudos to both Wheeling Hospital and the OVAC for continuing to be pro-active.

TOTALLY?DISRESPECTFUL

Last week, I was surfing the Internet reading prep sports-related stories from the state when I stumbled upon one of the most disgusting and disheartening stories I've seen in quite some time.

On the WKYC (Cleveland) website, there was a story about a game in Week 4 between Avon and North Ridgeville. North Ridgeville was in mourning after a freshman member of its team, Alex Sismour, had passed away earlier in the week when he was hit by an automobile as he was riding his bicycle.

Unfortunately, a few Avon students decided to make the tragedy into a joke when they reportedly came to the game with shirts, reading, 'at least I know how to ride bikes.'

Absolutely not funny and totally classless. I don't want to hear kids will be kids, either. Those kids should be suspended from school immediately for an extended period of time.

Turning a horrific event into a joke is just wrong.

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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