ST. CLAIRSVILLE - With a rugged Buckeye 8 schedule ahead, Brett McLean knew Cleveland-based Whitney Young was no match for his battle-tested St. Clairsville squad.
So, the veteran Red Devils' boss used the game against the outmanned Warriors Saturday night at Red Devil Stadium as a tuneup game.
The hosts' engine purred on all cylinders - and in all phases of the contest - in a methodical 49-0 whitewashing of the Division VII Warriors before a huge turnout.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE’S Malik Gummer tries to hurdle a Whitney Young defender during Saturday evening’s game at Red Devil Stadium. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
St. Clairsville didn't waste any time in showing Whitney Young why it played for the Division IV state title last season.
Senior cornerback Ben Coleman stepped in front of a Whitney Young pass on the first play of the game, picking it off and returning it 26 yards. Zach Musilli tacked on the first of his seven PATs and it was quickly 7-0 just 18 ticks in.
The Warriors could muster a mere three yards on its next possession, forcing a punt. Malik Gummer fielded the ball after a bounce and the junior speedster set sail down the left sidelines where no one would touch him or catch him. The 38-yard runback made it 14-0 after the point-after.
"There was a moment there where we didn't know if we were going to get to run any plays offensively," McLean joked. "Coach Hunt is doing a great job with that program. We knew they had a young program.
"We needed to get some work tonight, but the good thing is that we got out of the game totally healthy and every kid got on the field in some shape or form," he added. "It was a tune-up game. We've got to get ready to play a great (league) schedule. We've got one more game next week before (league) play starts. I want to be a little bit better and I want the starters to play a little bit longer, so they're prepared to go four quarters when we get into league play."
Gummer also ran the next Warriors' punt back for six points, but the Red Devils had too many men on the field, negating the scoring play.
However, four plays later, senior tailback Jaylon Brown, a Youngstown State recruit, skirted around his left end from 20 yards out to make it 20-0. Musilli was true on the PAT with 4:25 left in the first quarter.
Gummer did reach the end zone a second time as he caught a 12-yard pass from Michael Monteroso to start a 21-point outburst in the second quarter. Monteroso lobbed the ball perfectly to the right corner of the end zone where Gummer ran under it.
The Warriors mounted their first threat of the game on the next series of plays. Quarterback Marquan Shannon's pass deep down the right sidelines was misplayed by a pair of Red Devils, with one tipping it. Whitney Young's Michael Wilkins hauled in the deflection and raced deep into St. Clairsville territory until Shane Peroni ran him down at the 21.
However, the drive sputtered and Michigan recruit Michael Ferns tipped away a fourth-down pass.
Peroni took the next handoff 42 yards to set the Red Devils up at the Whitney Young 42. Three plays later, Isiah Sears bulled his way in from three yards out to cap the 4-play march that covered 84 yards.
Just before the half, the Red Devils special teams got into the scoring again. Sophomore Cole Skaggs blocked a Warriors' punt deep in their end of the field. Senior Bryce Burnett scooped up the ball at the eight and danced into the end zone.
The second half was played in 10-minute running quarters, with Brandon Ducker rumbling in from 23 yards to conclude the scoring.
St. Clairsville's starters only played the first half. A total of 12 different Red Devils lugged the leather as they amassed 268 yards via the ground.
Blake Peroni recovered a fumble for the hosts.
Whitney Young managed just 99 yards of total offense.
St. Clairsville hosts Renaissance Christian Academy Friday night at 7:30.