OLD WASHINGTON - Another year, another PVC title and playoff berth for the Ohio Valley's winningest coach.
Curtis Nixon threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns and Bryan Duffy caught seven passes for 119 yards and two scores Friday night as Monroe Central thumped Buckeye Trail, 34-12, in the regular-season finale at the Baker Activity Complex.
The victory capped a perfect PVC campaign for the Seminoles (7-3) and also sent Coach Jay Circosta's squad back to the postseason after a one-year hiatus. Monroe Central will hit the road for the Ohio Division VI, Region 21 quarterfinals against a foe to officially be announced by the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Sunday.
MONROE?CENTRAL’S Levi Brown is grabbed by a Buckeye Trail defender during the first half of Friday’s game in Old Washington. The Seminoles prevailed, 34-12.
Those games are slated to take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday. If, however, the Seminoles would end up traveling to Bellaire for the opening round, the game would likely take place at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Nelson Field. Bellaire would need to defeat Martins Ferry this afternoon for that to have a chance at coming to fruition.
No matter the opponent, or destination, Circosta said his team has plenty of work to do.
''We didn't play very well to be honest with you,'' said Circosta, guiding his school to the playoffs for the 13th time.
''We just didn't play well. I didn't think our running game was what it had been. I just thought we were out of sync.''
The Seminoles' vaunted rushing attack registered three touchdowns, but only totaled 112 yards.
''(Friday) wasn't our typical running night,'' Circosta added. ''That's why we had to pass the ball so much.''
But Monroe Central did it well.
Nixon was 14-of-21 and hit seven different receivers, mostly Duffy.
''He's a good receiver; a good possession receiver,'' Circosta said of Duffy, the 5-11, senior.
''I guess, overall, we did what we needed to do to win.''
The Warriors finished 4-6.
''I thought we played hard,'' Buckeye Trail head coach Dale Broomhall said. ''They're good. We hurt ourselves in the first half.''
The Seminoles took the opening kickoff marched 70 yards in 12 plays to score first on a Nixon 4-yard run. The first of two Tanner Potts extra points made the score 7-0.
Trail produced a 12-play drive of its own later in the quarter. Senior quarterback Morgan Dougherty dove in from a yard out to make the score 7-6. The run for two failed.
From there, Monroe Central scored 19 unanswered points stretching into the third quarter to take command.
''They're a good team and we were competitive,'' Broomhall said. ''We just ran out of time.''
The Seminoles scored on its ensuing possession thanks to a little luck, a big Warriors penalty and a couple of big third-down conversions.
Faced with a 3rd-and-9 at their own 38, Nixon hit Duffy for 22 yards down the right side.
Later in the drive, again on third-and-long, Nixon connected with Duffy for a 42-yard TD. But the Seminoles were flagged for holding. On the next play, though, the same duo hooked up on a flea-flicker play for 38 yards, giving the visitors first-and-goal.
Four plays later, Nixon dropped back and threw a pass toward the left corner of the end zone. The pass was tipped, batted in the air and hauled in by Jake Schuerman for the score.
A 14-yard strike from Nixon to Duffy highlighted an eight-play, 68-yard march late in the first half capped by Levi Brown's 1-yard run that helped make the score 20-6 just before halftime.
Monroe Central's lead ballooned to 26-6 with 5:44 left in the third quarter when Brown scampered in from 10 yards out. Nixon threw for 65 yards on the drive.
Duffy recorded his only score, the final TD of the night for the Seminoles, with 7:16 left in the game on a 14-yard pass from Nixon.
Circosta said the victory might have served a s ''wake up call'' for his team.
''This was no indication of what type of team we are,'' he said. ''We'll have to get things together, no matter who we play.''
Still, he couldn't help smile about what his team has accomplished.
''We're PVC champs and we ended up 7-3 after starting 0-2,'' he said. ''I'm proud of my kids and how they've played all year.
''What they've done says a lot about them.''