LOGAN - The St. Clairsville Red Devils don't need many plays, much space or a lot of time to make things happen on the football field.
The Devils, who are now 12-0, showed their bevy of weapons in a big way Friday night at Chieftain Stadium en route to a 59-27 victory against overmatched Piketon in the Division IV, Region 15 semifinals.
"We're going to the regional championship game and I couldn't be prouder of our kids," said St. Clairsville head coach Brett McLean. "We have to get focused quickly because we have a lot of work to do to get ready."
St. Clairsville’s Jaylon Brown outruns a Piketon defender during Friday night’s Division IV, Region 15 semifinal at Logan’s Chieftan Stadium. He scored six touchdowns.
St. Clairsville’s Dan Monteroso looks for room to run during Friday night’s game.
Red Devil’s quarterback Matt Kinnick rolls out while looking for a receiver. He completed only seven passes, but they went for 230 yards and a pair of TDs.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE head coach Brett McLean, left, and assistant coach Ryan Clifford discuss a play call during Friday night’s game.
The win puts St. Clairsville in the 'Elite Eight' in the regional final next Friday against Johnstown-Monroe, which easily dispatched Ironton, 42-7, down the road at The Plains in Athens. The site will be formally announced Sunday afternoon by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
"Johnstown was in this game last year and won it, so they're the veteran team in that regard," McLean said. "They're the favorites and we're really going to have to go about our business well this week because we're going to be the underdog."
Piketon finishes its season with a 9-3 record. This was the Redstreaks second appearance in the postseason and second time it was eliminated by a team from Belmont County. Bellaire dispatched the Redstreaks in 1997.
The Redstreaks just didn't have the firepower to contend with the Devils.
It was simply an offensive clinic for the Red Devils who ran by Redstreak defenders time and time again en route to scoring on their first nine possessions.
During the first half, St. Clairsville scored 38 points on just 20 plays. The Red Devils' quick-strike ability was further demonstrated by their three, 1-play drives that covered 39, 46 and 39 yards.
"The kids are so amped-up to get here, get on the field and get going that I think it was good for us offensively, but a little bit bad for us defensively," McLean said. "We were just so amped-up and hopefully, the more we play, the more they'll get used to that not losing their breath early on."
While the Red Devils were scoring quickly, the Redstreaks were scoring well in their own right, but doing it in a different, but similar fashion, using the spread, but not nearly via as many big plays.
"We had to catch our breath and calm down a little bit," McLean said. "They had our defense in a tizzy, but once we settled in, we were able to make some plays (defensively) and played a little more sound. Piketon has a nice team and really spreads the ball well around."
The Red Devils owned a 28-20 lead and basically in the blink of an eye the score swelled to 59-20 before the Redstreaks added a window dressing touchdown late in the contest.
St. Clairsville didn't need to take the methodical approach because each time it had the ball, it did seemingly whatever it wanted to do.
The majority of the time, however, it was junior jet Jaylon Brown, who had his number called.
Brown continued to ring up touchdowns, scoring six times on just 11 touches. He finished with 186 yards.
"Our line up front was blocking great," the always modest Brown said referring to teammates Cole Stephen, Joel Giffin, Corey Ernest, Nick Van Voltenburg, Tom Parker and Jay Gossett.
"We played against a bigger team, but our line stepped up to the plate and did the job. I just have to run down hill and not just go outside."
Along with Brown, senior quarterback Matt Kinnick was brilliant once again. He threw only 12 passes, but completed 7 of those for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He found classmate Jerrid Marhefka on a 54-yard strike for one of those scores and then hooked up with Boston College bound Dan Monteroso on a 39-yard pitch and catch, which saw Monteroso make a brilliant catch.
"We got big play after big play," McLean said. "Heck, I can't even remember them all as long as this game lasted."
Junior place kicker Zach Musilli was perfect on a 7-of-7 PAT kicks and notched a 22-yard field goal at the first-half buzzer. Haylee Skukan added the final PAT to close the scoring the Red Devils.
St. Clairsville's first string offense had just two plays go for negative yardage and one of those was on a bad snap, which resulted in a loss of six.
All told, the Red Devils gained 466 yards and were balanced with 236 on the ground to complement Kinnick's production through the air.
The Devils' defense allowed 410 yards and 21 first downs. Piketon quarterback Isaac Brabson was impressive running the Redstreaks' offense. He completed 17-of-32 passes for 155 yards. Stephen Royster ran for 118 yards to lead the Piketon offense. Impressive junior Jeremy Farmer scored two touchdowns for the Redstreaks.
"I don't think our defensive play is a cause for concern," McLean said. "We're getting to the point in the season where you're playing good competition. We told the kids all week that (Piketon) would make plays and (Johnstown-Monroe) is going to make plays next week, too. You might get in a slugfest, so you can't get too high or too low. Just have to keep battling and keep pushing."