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The streak is no more at Union Local

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

How about those Union Local Jets?

You had to have a feeling that it was going to be just a matter of time before that dreaded losing streak was snapped.

However, after scoring only seven points in the first three weeks and with the balanced Buckeye 8 schedule looming, there were some who thought the Jets could have real trouble snapping that skid anytime soon.

Those people aren't members of the Jets' coaching staff or team because head coach Mark Cisar, his staff and players have shown up for work each week and continued to practice as if they were riding a 22-game winning streak instead of the other way around.

Unfortunately, we probably can't include some of the Jets' fans into that equation as they've sat in the crowd and criticized coaches, players and every decision made.

Here's the thing, Cisar played sports at a high level. A little bit of criticism doesn't faze him. Actually, I've talked to him about it and it makes him laugh and motivates him further.

Unfortunately, when you're trying to rebuild a program it can be tough because kids just expect to lose rather than expecting to win. They also start doubting things because nothing seems to stop the losing trend.

Something tells me that Friday's 13-12 victory against turnover-plagued Edison is the start of a turnaround. Am I saying the Jets are going to win out or even win more than they lose this year? No, but it's a step in the right direction and sometimes baby steps are needed.

They're especially needed when you're dealing with a young football team. The Jets have just a handful of upperclassmen players, so dealing with freshmen and sophomores can be tough, but it's a learning process and every one of the Jets' coaches is all in for the journey.

As the Jets show up for practice today to begin preparations for an acid test at Martins Ferry, there has to be an energy or pep in their step that they've not experience since Week 2 of the 2010 season. Having that energy and pep are important, but the most important trait is confidence.

And confidence is built by winning and now the Jets aren't looking to end a losing streak, but instead start a winning streak.

BUCKEYE 8 SHOWDOWNS

The opening weekend of the Buckeye 8 season was about everything we expected it to be. There were big crowds, entertaining games and growing rivalries at four venues.

Harrison Central's victory against Martins Ferry lived up to its hype unlike many prep games. It was a back-and-forth battle for the most part. Harrison Central's veteran leadership proved the difference. The Huskies are a fortunate team to have seniors at so many key positions. It's a luxury.

Unfortunately, the St. Clairsville trip to Indian Creek didn't pan out. Actually, it turned into a blowout quickly. The Red Devils flexed their muscle early and often en route to a decisive victory.

Ironically, the two Buckeye 8 teams, which won the biggest games last week, are meeting in the biggest game this week in Cadiz with the Coal Bucket on the line.

SPEAKING OF BUCKEYE 8

The league brass met last Thursday in Bellaire and after a strong push by some of the athletic directors, the AD's will reconvene on Tuesday in Martins Ferry and may possibly do away with the idea of back-ending the schedules.

Currently, the Buckeye 8 membership plays each other in the final seven weeks. That could go by the boards because the membership is finding it awful tough to find three opponents to fill the non-league portion of their schedules.

All eight schools are racing to find games against basically the same teams and it's a logistical nightmare.

While we enjoy the back-ended schedule from a media and hype standpoint, we're also well-versed enough to realize that plenty of work goes into putting a high school football schedule together.

BELLAIRE SURGING

Coach Jose Davis was concerned in the pre-season about his team because it had so much inexperience at several of the skill positions.

All the Big Reds have done is rally from what appeared to be an insurmountable deficit at Steubenville Central and then have gone on to steamroll the balance of their schedule, including last Saturday's game against Buckeye Local.

The Big Reds' confidence is growing with each passing game. Davis has done a great job of getting his players to remain focused on the task at hand and he'll have to do that again because when the OHSAA releases its initial computer rankings, the Big Reds should be sitting atop the Division V, Region 17 poll.

The Big Reds have a date with Indian Creek this week and then trek to St. Clairsville the following Friday on a short week.

However, the Big Reds are playing with confidence on both sides of the ball and they're getting better defensively every week, which is ultimately critical to their success.

Davis and his staff have simply done an outstanding job. And on top of that, it's amazing what a little success can do for the psyche.

TIGHT END USAGE

If you spend a lot of time watching football on Saturday and Sunday you see teams at both the major college and professional level using the tight end extremely well.

Martins Ferry is unrivaled in its use of the tight end at the high school level. I saw the Purple Riders play Friday at Harrison Central and they threw the ball to junior Robert Vargo 11 times for more than 100 yards.

The thing is, the Purple Riders have been using their tight end like that for years.

By the way, Vargo is a stud. The kid is 6-ft-6, 250 pounds and he can run. Something tells me he's going to have colleges knocking on his door in the not-so-distant future.

SHADYSIDE STAYING SHARP

The Shadyside Tigers found themselves in a tough predicament last Friday.

You see, Shadyside is entering a stretch where it plays Linsly and Wheeling Central in two of the next three weeks, which made its week four game tough.

Coach Mark Holenka needed to keep his first string in the game long enough to get some work in to stay sharp at Shenandoah, but when the Tigers rang up 35 points in the first quarter, it's tough.

You still have to get your work in, but it's simply not in a coach's nature to run up the score on opponents. Holenka actually started substituting in the second quarter. He got his players out of the game healthy and didn't embarrass Shenandoah.

The Tigers return home for only their second game at Fleming Field this season on Friday when the Cadets visit.

SNAKE BIT

I'm not sure there's any other way to describe the state of things for Beallsville and Bridgeport.

Both teams have played well enough to win games, but the results just aren't there at the end of the night.

That happens at small schools when they're hit hard by graduation. Yes, both teams have solid collections of individual talent, but it takes 11 to win a football game. Talented individuals can only do so much.

The Blue Devils had a victory ripped away from them on Friday. They led Cameron by 20 points entering the fourth quarter and the Dragons ripped off 22 points to win by two.

It's just been that type of season for rookie head coach Paul Kanzigg and company.

I still believe both teams are going to win this season. They're close and it's a matter of getting over the hump, which I think they'll do.

FIRST-YEAR COACHES

John Marshall head coach Rick Goodrich has been around long enough to know when his team is getting close to a breakthrough.

He told me his Monarchs were close and sure enough they exploded last Friday against Oak Glen, which has now lost two in a row under rookie head coach Ian Whittington.

Something tells me, that is the first of many victories before Goodrich's tenure in Moundsville is said and done. The guy is too good of a coach and JM is too big of a school to be down for too long.

If the Monarchs stay the course, they'll eventually see the results.

Monroe Central product Eric Schumacher suffered his first defeat at Conotton Valley, but Strasburg needed overtime to defuse the red-hot Rockets.

Don't look now, but the Barnesville Shamrocks have won three games in a row under Matt Johnson, who by the way is a Goodrich disciple.

The Shamrocks will be favored to make it four in a row this week when they travel to Shenandoah.

COMPUTER POLL

As said earlier, the first computer poll becomes public Tuesday afternoon. According to the website Joeeitel.com, which is usually right on when it comes to the Ohio Harbin Points, has its standings updated and it appears six area teams would be in the playoffs if they started this week.

Currently, Barnesville, Bellaire, Harrison Central, Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville and Shadyside all would be extending their seasons beyond Week 10.

We realize there is A LOT of football to be played over the next six weeks, but it's still a great conversation piece.

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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