Three games are on tap Saturday as the high school football season completes its third week.
Bellaire and St. Clairsville will look to go 3-0 before entering the rugged Buckeye 8 action, while Bridgeport seeks its second consecutive victory.
The Big Reds host East Liverpool (0-2) at Nelson Field in a 1 p.m. kickoff, while St. Clairsville makes its home debut at Red Devil Stadium as Dayton Jefferson (1-1) makes its second straight trip to Belmont County for a 6 p.m. kickoff. Bridgeport (1-1) travels to Leesville to tangle with unbeaten Conotton Valley (2-0) in a 1:30 p.m. start.
In other Saturday action, Steubenville Central (1-1) welcomes Columbiana (1-1) to Harding Stadium, and Pittsburgh Westinghouse (0-1) treks to Wheeling Central (1-1). Both games have 7 p.m. kickoffs slated.
East Liverpool at Bellaire
At Nelson Field, the Big Reds have shown some offensive firepower thus far, with junior quarterback Spencer Badia taking over where he left off in 2011.
Badia has passed for 627 yards and half-a-dozen touchdowns on 52 of 91. His favorite target has been classmate Nick Patrone, who has caught 20 passes for 242 yards and two scores. Kenny hess has hauled in eight aerials, while Quinton Crosby and Nick Maffe have evenly divided 14.
Maffe is also the Big Reds' leading rusher with 117 yards and two touchdowns.
However, last week against John Marshall, it was the Big Reds defense that stepped up in the second half.
Union Local transfer Abhay Horvath sacked Monarch quarterback Jeremiah Fromhart in the end zone, with the ball rolling to the Monarchs' 2. Bellaire's Ryan Callarik alertly picked up the loose ball and lumbered into the end zone.
An interception on JM's next possession led to a Badia-to-Patrone 44-yard TD strike.
However, Bellaire head coach Jose Davis still isn't pleased with his team's consistency, both offensively and defensively.
"Our biggest problem right now is that with our inexperience, we can't keep that level of consistency," he said following the win over the Monarchs. "We have guys that will go plays, then take one or two off. In this game today, you can't do that.
"That one or two plays that a player takes off, they run right at them and possibly break a long one. It's that level of consistency that must come as we keep on moving forward, hopefully."
Bellaire sits in the sixth spot in Division V, Region 17.
The Potters have lost to Beaver Local (21-0) and Indian Creek (26-12).
Bridgeport at Conotton Valley
At Leesville, the Bulldogs have opened some eyes early on with their performance, especially in last week's 20-19 comeback win over Toronto on Hall/Wall of Fame Night on Perkins Field inside at Bill Jobko Stadium.
"We played really well in the second half," Bridgeport head coach Rudy Vavrock allowed. "We made a nice goalline stand, and when we got the ball back, we kept it when we had to.
"Our offensive line is starting to come together, and we've had some good play from our veterans, along with some younger guys stepping up," he added.
He cited the play of Brandon Brown, Michael Jaworski and Bailey Severt.
The hard work paved the way for senior tailback Dallas Fields to accumulate 175 yards on 31 carries and a TD.
"Dallas had an outstanding game," Vavrock noted. "I also thought Bailey (McGrath) made some good decisions at quarterback."
The Rockets have defeated Beallsville (32-14) and St. John Central (34-21). They are currently sixth in Division VI, Region 21.
at St. Clairsville
On the turf at Red Devil Stadium, the hosts will be making their home debut, albeit a brief one.
St. Clairsville has throttled a pair of West Virginia 'Big School' powers in Wheeling Park (47-27) and Brooke (44-14), both in the Mountain State.
"This has been a weird kind of season already," St. Clairsville head coach Brett McLean admitted. "We started with a Thursday night road game. Then we played a Friday night road game, and now we're playing a Saturday night home game.
"The kids have kind of embraced the road warriors role, but there's nothing like running out on the field in the friendly confines of Red Devil Stadium."
Following Saturday's game, it's back on the road for two Buckeye 8 contests at Indian Creek and Harrison Central.
"We had better enjoy this one," he said of Saturday's contest. St. Clairsville does play three of its last five games at home.
The offense has been, as expected by many, a scoring juggernaut.
In the opener, junior speedster Jaylon Brown zipped through the Wheeling Park defense for 150 yards and four touchdowns. He added a fifth score on an interception return.
Last week, senior quarterback Matt Kinnick tossed six touchdown passes in the rout of Brooke. Four of them went to classmate Dan Monteroso, who has verballed to Boston College.
Junior linebacker Michael Ferns, a Michigan verbal, has led a stingy Red Devils' defensive unit.
"We're just chugging along," McLean said. "We just want to stay focused on getting better each week, and we don't care how it happens, be it on the ground or through the air."
McLean was quick to point out that the Red Devils' special teams have also held their own.
"We don't want people to overlook our special teams," he stressed. "They have done an outstanding job."
Kinnick has piled up 394 yards and seven touchdowns on 22 of 31 accuracy. He has yet to be picked off. Brown has gained 259 yards and scored four touchdowns via the ground. Monteroso has 10 catches for 220 stripes and four six-pointers.
The Red Devils are No. 1 in Division IV, Region 15.
The Broncos dropped a 27-0 decision to Northridge in Week 1, before rebounding to pound Dayton Ponitz 38-18 last week.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org