FRIDAY NIGHT frozen fun.
Paul Brown Stadium in Massillon was certainly that.
Cheering on the St. Clairsville Red Devils into the state title game was a bitterly cold but exciting task Friday night.
I have not witnessed St. C. play in person since Week 1. Much to the credit of its staff and players, they have improved markedly.
So much so, in less than a week, I will be shocked if Coach Brett McLean isn't hoisting a Division IV state championship trophy.
St. C. is that good.
The Red Devils have big-time talent, game-changers and heart.
Two of their key players were felled by injuries against defending state champion and previously unbeaten Creston Norwayne. Despite not 100 percent, Michael Ferns and Jaylon Brown returned after short absences and played through the pain, helping to make the difference down the stretch.
Dan Monteroso again displayed why he is a Division I grid recruit, catching and running wild through the Norwayne secondary. Jerrid Marhefka once again came through with a key TD with the outcome still hanging in the balance.
And the triggerman is deadly. Matt Kinnick does not receive enough credit. He is accurate and exceptional, one of the finest QBs I have seen in recent years.
I said going into the Norwayne game that if the Red Devils didn't turn the ball over they would win. They were not turnover-free but it didn't matter.
St. C. in one word is EXPLOSIVE. The Red Devils can score on one play from any place, and by a host of different players.
I have always held McLean in high regard, both as a coach and person. The Brooke High product handles himself with class and his program reflects that.
He took over the St. C. program more than decade ago as a pup, wet behind his coaching ears and still hit the ground running. He established early on that he had all the ingredients to be a championship-caliber coach.
McLean has handled a talent-laden roster very deftly this fall. Talent does not guarantee success, however, it just gives you a better chance to attain it. McLean and his staff have pushed all the right buttons since summer workouts through Friday night's winterfest win.
As I said earlier in this piece, I fully expect St. C. to capture its initial state grid crown come 5:30 p.m. Friday in Canton. In sports, however, there are no guaranteed wins and losses. But this we can guarantee, McLean and his staff will have their Red Devils totally prepared, focused, motivated and ready to play the game of their respective lives.
SOME SIDELIGHTS from Friday night's game:
I must thank former prep coaching great Jake Olsavsky for giving me a seat cushion to keep my posterior warm.
Downtown Massillon is gorgeous. It is clean, bright and laden with dining options.
Paul Brown Stadium is the most impressive high school grid venue I have ever witnessed.
A massive outpouring of St. C. fans turned out for the historic win.
MARTINS FERRY held its monthly meeting Tuesday at the recreation center with Police Chief John McFarland as featured speaker.
The popular police chief updated members on some ongoing projects. He also praised the city administration and council for their continued support and cooperation.
Mac also said the city is receiving a new police cruiser and that his force is scheduled to undergo a good bit of training.
Mac also touched up the success of the recent "drug take-back day" in the city with the help of Safety Director Bill Suto. They hope to make it a regular occurrence.
IN OTHER chamber business, it was noted that all the Christmas decorations have been put up, thanks to the volunteer efforts of city workers, the Lions Club and the Leos Club. Chamber members also remarked on how festive the city building looks.
Councilman Rob Duncan reported on a very successful Veterans Day program in the city and that more events will be staged in the City Park.
Martins Ferry School Superintendent Dirk Fitch said the OHAA test results are in and it appears the district did very well.
The recent Night at the Races again proved a success, although down a little bit from a year ago. Keith Sommer was the 50/50 winner at the event and donated his winnings back to the chamber to be channeled to Hurricane Sandy victims. The chamber earmarked the money to go to the Red Cross.
Starfire was welcomed as a new chamber member. The final monthly luncheon meeting will be held Dec. 18.
THE MARTINS Ferry Lions Club will hold its annual Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church 4th and Walnut streets. Admission is $5 for adults while children under 12 eat free.
MARTINS FERRY junior tight end Robert Vargo was a guest of the Cincinnati Bearcats football program last Saturday. The 6 ft. 6, 240-pounder is drawing the interest of several Division I programs. Vargo is also a hoop standout and a superb student in the classroom.
CONGRATULATIONS GO out to our Times Leader associate Rick DeLuca. Rick has been named head baseball coach at Buckeye Local High School. Rick is a class act with a great baseball mind. He previously served as head coach at Bridgeport High. We wish him nothing but success.
CHRISTMAS SEASON is upon us, also a time of giving. As I did last year, I am forgoing sending Christmas cards in order to be able to donate more to those in need. I never met a Red Kettle that I didn't become friends with.
BETHANY COLLEGE will host its Second Annual Light Up Night at 7 p.m. on Thursday, being held in Commencement Hall. The celebration will include the lighting of the College's tree by President Scott D. Miller and a variety of presentations on holiday themes, as well as a charity tree auction.
SOME 95 percent of Americans ate turkey on Thanksgiving Day.
CASHLAND will hold a grand-opening event for its new Bellaire location on Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day, as part of the ceremony, Electronic Recycling Services will be picking up electronics to recycle.
THE BELLS are ringing again at St. John Catholic Church in Bellaire. I took in Thanksgiving 9 a.m. mass at the church and it marked the first time the bells have tolled in more than two decades. Kudos to the Doyle family and Pastor Daniel Heusel for making the ringing a reality again.
OHIO?STATE football fans must be salivating about th future their Buckeyes have under the skillful direction of Urban Meyer.
Going 12-0 in what was expected by most as a rebuilding year should make recruiting even easier, setting the table for future national championships.
Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader online.com