State-ranked Bellaire seeks 5-0 start vs. IC

Bellaire has certainly turned some heads already this season.

Big Reds’ head coach Jose Davis has his team off to a 4-0 start and atop the Division V, Region 17 and OVAC Class 3A standings, but he’s been stressing there’s a long way to go and the road gets considerably tougher this weekend.

Bellaire completes a four-game homestand Saturday afternoon when Indian Creek, which is coming off a lopsided loss to St. Clairsville last week, visits for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.

“I’ve seen (Bellaire) play all four games and they’ve gotten better each week on both sides of the ball,” said Redskins’ head coach Andrew Connor. “It’s certainly no fluke that they’re 4-0.”

The Redskins, meanwhile, fell victim to what Connor described as a “calamity of errors” against the Red Devils, which led to the 48-6 loss to the Red Devils.

“I think the score (last week) was misleading,” Davis said of the Creek game, which he scouted. On top of facing a solid Redskins’ squad, Davis has been guarding his team against other distractions this week.

“It’s Homecoming,” Davis said. “We have to get everything out of the kids in the time that we’re together because there’s so much other stuff going on with distractions. They’re probably tired of hearing me talk about it, but I don’t want to hear about anything dealing with Homecoming when we’re practicing or at the field.”

While the Big Reds deal with Homecoming distractions, Connor and his staff are dealing with the injury bug.

“We had three or four kids get MRIs earlier in the week, so we’re really banged up,” Connor said. “It’s been a slow grind for us. It seems like every week one or two guys get banged up. We probably won’t know the status of some of these guys until later in the week.”

A makeshift lineup isn’t what any coach wants especially when preparing for a high-powered and balanced Big Reds’ offense.

Quarterback Spencer Badia is one of the area’s top passers. He’s completed 74-of-134 passes for 1,040 yards. His passing attempts is more than double of every team in the area except for Union Local. He’s thrown 11 touchdowns and been picked off four times.

He’s spread the wealth to a bevy of targets. Senior Nick Patrone leads the way with 27 receptions for 365 yards and two scores. Kenny Hess (11-131-2td), Quinton Crosby (10-183-2td) and Hunter Westlake (9-198-3td) are also viable targets.

“The thing that concerns most about Bellaire is getting too caught up in their passing game,” Connor said. “They mix in some running plays well and stay balanced. All of their wide receivers can catch the ball, too.”

Nick Maffe is the Big Reds’ leading ground gainer with 37 carries for 242 yards and five touchdowns.

The Redskins’ offense is led by senior quarterback Alex Young, who’s completed 18-of-43 passes for 231 yards and three scores. Senior Frank Kamarec is the Redskins’ leading receiver.

Creek has been balanced on the ground with Tran Huynh and Logan Woods leading the way with 336 and 318 yards, respectively. They’ve combined for nine touchdowns.

“You can’t teach experience and Indian Creek has a lot of veteran players,” Davis said. “They’ve got a big offensive line and they’ve got explosive skill players. They’ve been pretty sound in what they’re doing on both sides of the ball.”

One of the Big Reds’ best, but most unheralded, weapons is senior kicker Dalton Conroy, who is deadly on PATs, field goals and continually puts the opposition deep in its own territory on kickoffs.