St. Clairsville's road to the Division IV State Tournament will next run through Zanesville.
After hosting the opening round and making better than a 2-hour trek to Logan last Friday, the Red Devils will load up the buses for Sulsberger Stadium at Zanesville High School this weekend.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced the venues for the 24 regional final games this weekend on Sunday afternoon.
The Red Devils will meet defending Region 15 champion Johnstown-Monroe (10-2) with a trip in the Division IV state semifinals at stake at 7:30 p.m.
While the OHSAA hasn't formally announced the state semifinal pairings and it always reserves the right to revise due to geography, it's a fair assessment to guess Friday's winner would meet the champion of Region 13.
That game pits defending state champion Creston Norwayne against undefeated Brookfield and it'll be played at Stow Ron Marhofer Auto Family Field.
For the Red Devils, Sulsberger has become somewhat of a second home. This is the third time in five years they've played at that venue. They were eliminated there last year by Coshocton in the second round.
"We're thrilled to be headed to the regional final and Zanesville is an excellent venue for the game," said St. C. head coach Brett McLean. "The team is familiar with the venue and they always do a great job of hosting games."
St. Clairsville improved to 12-0 by virtue of a convincing 59-27 triumph over Piketon, while Johnstown-Monroe was a 42-7 victor against second-seeded Ironton.
"Johnstown-Monroe is the defending champion and very good again," McLean said. "They have the best defense we've seen this year."
The Devils have scored points in bunches all season, averaging 50 points a game.
Looking at the Johnnies, they bring a punishing ground game that's produced two runners with better than 1,000 yards.
"Their ground game is extremely impressive," McLean said.
"They're cranking on all cylinders after an impressive victory against Ironton last week."
More in-depth look at the Red Devils and Johnnies' matchup will be contained in Thursday's edition.
WHAT HAPPENED TO STEUBENVILLE?
Could the Big Red mystique be fading? Steubenville is most certainly still one of the premier football programs in the state of Ohio, but for the third straight season, Big Red has been bounced before the regional title game.
This past Saturday, Steubenville was taken behind the woodshed by West Holmes to a tune of 35-7. Steubenville led the game 7-6 in the second quarter, but just couldn't get stops and turned the ball over on the second-half kickoff and never threatened.
There was a time when teams from the immediate area would be greatly intimidated by Big Red. Seeing the Crimson and Black and the Block 'S' on the helmet put many teams down 14 before the ball was kicked off.
However, two of the last three years, Steubenville has been eliminated by Dover (at Harding Stadium) and now West Holmes. Both are Eastern District teams.
The support, passion, sound coaching, tough players and determination haven't changed whatsoever, but the level of players has.
I know this much, Steubenville will be back and that's because of the earlier mentioned traits that just don't go away regardless of how many people have moved. However, how far those traits can take you is a different story.
WEST VIRGINIA UPDATE
Only two area teams remain in the hunt for the West Virginia state title and they could meet in the Super Six on Dec. 1.
Magnolia cruised past Williamstown Friday night and Madonna hammered Tug Valley Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Eagles will host East Hardy Saturday night in New Martinsville. Madonna, meanwhile, will host St. Mary's Friday night in Weirton.
Wheeling Central was dispatched Saturday afternoon at East Hardy. The Knights allowed 60 points in the loss. That's just simply hard to fathom that Wheeling Central was touched up for that many points.
PLAYING A REGIONAL FINAL
ON YOUR HOME FIELD
Defending Division I state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius will aim for another regional title Saturday night against Mentor on the turf of Parma Byers Field. That's the field Ignatius uses for its home games.
From a report in Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Mentor coaching staff agreeed to the site. Why wouldn't it? The Cardinals just rallied past Lakewood St. Edward on that field this past Saturday with 28 unanswered to shock the top-ranked Eagles, 63-56.
I still find it tough to fathom that the OHSAA would allow a team to play on its home field. The football tournament calls for a neutral site after the first round and that's what should be used.
CHECKING IN ON THE LOCALS
IT'S GOING to be a long offseason for Canton McKinley head coach Todd Filtz. The Steubenville Big Red product saw his first season at the Bulldogs' helm come to an end at the hands of arch-rival Massillon Washington Saturday night at Kent State University by a 28-19 score. It's the Pups' second loss in three weeks to Massillon. Filtz is an outstanding football coach and ambassador for the program, but losing twice to Massillon doesn't sit well with the McKinley community. Something tells me Filtz will work his tail off to make sure it doesn't happen again.
NORWOOD was eliminated from the Division IV tournament by West Milton Milton Union, 51-8. Bellaire High product Matt Sherwood is a member of the Norwood coaching staff.
COLUMBUS BISHOP HARTLEY took another impressive step toward what it hopes is a trip to Stark County with a 43-0 blitzing of Richwood North Union. Jacob Matuska - the Notre Dame bound linebacker and tight end - turned in another brilliant effort on both sides of the ball. Matuska's parents (Jim and Beth (Bierkorette) are St. John Central graduates. The Hawks will meet 12-0 Ottawa-Glandorf in the regional final. Many pundits believe this game could be the defacto state title game.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org