YORKVILLE - St. Clairsville's high-powered Red Devils came Friday looking to unleash their explosive offense, but instead it was a team that took advantage of a rash of Buckeye Local mistakes in the first quarter on its way to a 34-6 win over the Panthers at Memorial Stadium.
Coming off a 49-12 win over Edison last week and looking to latch onto an opening-round home game in the postseason, the Red Devils stretched their record to 8-1 on the season.
Coach Brett McLean's Red Devils return to action Friday finishing the regular season on the home turf hosting neighboring Union Local.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE’S Michael Monteroso tries to get rid of the ball as Buckeye Local’s Billy Glover grabs onto him during Friday’s game in Yorkville. The Red Devils rolled to a 34-6 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
Buckeye Local's Panthers (1-8) and coach Phil Pest will be closing out the season on Friday hosting Harrison Central and battling the Huskies for the VALES trophy. Buckeye won its first game of the season last week.
"We came dressed and ready when we got off the bus," McLean said after the win. "We challenged our kids to start off strong, but of course we didn't expect the game to go like it did."
"There are a lot of kids on this team and we told them that we planned to play a lot of them," he added. "We didn't expect to get those kids in that early. We wanted to get the younger kids in earlier, so that they could play against the other team's best and we expected them to play at a high level.
"We are going home pretty healthy. We have one game left and it's against our rival, so that is going to be a big game for us and then the (second) season starts."
"I respect other coaches and players and would never run up a score on anybody," the Red Devil coach added. "This team has kids that want to play and do well. We want these kids to play hard and keep their heads on straight."
After the Panthers first possession resulted in a fourth down punt that handed the Red Devils the ball at their own 31, St. C went right to work. Quarterback Mike Monteroso threw a perfect long-range pass to Malik Gummer covering 53 yards to the Buckeye 16. Michael Ferns was stopped at the line of scrimmage before Monteroso and Gummer hooked up for 12 yards. With 8:03 on the clock, Ben Coleman ran in from the four for the score. Zach Musilli booted the PAT.
St. C regained possession following another Panther punt and put together a four play drive keyed by a 29-yard run Jaylon Brown that moved the ball to the hosts eight. Three plays later, Michael Ferns, who was playing for the first time since week 5, bulled into the end zone from the one with 6:04 on the board. Musilli booted the PAT for a 14-0 lead.
Brendan Ferns extended the Red Devil lead to three scores with a 45-yard pass interception return for a score with 3:33 on the board.
A fumble on the ensuing kickoff by the Panthers handed the Red Devils another scoring opportunity at the 12. Monteroso threw to Gummer for 12 yards and a score with 3:16 remaining in the first. Musilli booted his fourth PAT.
Gummer's 44-yard punt return set the stage for the Red Devils last score in the first. Jaylon Brown ran in from the three with 1:04 remaining. Josh Figurski blocked Musilli's PAT for a 34-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Buckeye stayed primarily on the ground and drove to the St. C. three in the final seconds, but the Red Devils kept them out of the end zone. The Panther defense shut down the Devil offense in the second frame holding them to no yards.
Following a scoreless third, Buckeye finally got on the board in the fourth quarter. Steve Sable blocked a St. C punt that was scooped up by Dylan Dokes who returned it 30 yards to the five. Four plays later, QB Jared Moore threw five yards to Andrew Hillman for the score with 8:12 on the game clock.
"Again, it was the mistakes," Pest said after the setback. "We just can't get away from the mistakes. The kids practice hard and they are trying hard, but the mistakes just seem to keep coming one after the other."
"They had a long pass play and then scored and then we fumbled the kickoff and they scored again. We just kept making mistakes too close to each other and that is just too hard to recover from," Pest added.
"They are a very good football team and we knew it. We just couldn't contain their quarterback. We have a big game next week with Harrison Central and we'll be playing for he VALES Trophy. Our kids want to bring it back to our school."