Bellaire looks to maintain momentum against UL

Two teams headed in opposite directions are set to clash Saturday at Nelson Field.

While the Bellaire Big Reds are making a strong push toward the Division V postseason, the Union Local Jets have limped to a 1-6 mark thus far.

Having said all that, life in the Buckeye 8 isn’t such to where you can just show up and get a victory.

Bellaire head coach Jose Davis is stressing that to his team as it coming off a cherished victory at Harrison Central last Friday, which snapped a two-game losing skid.

“That win told a lot about our team,” Davis said. “I think our overall culture is changing because the kids aren’t giving up. They’re playing with heart, passion and determination until the final seconds tick off the clock.”

The Jets, meanwhile, are coming off a close loss to Buckeye Local last Friday in Morristown.

“We told them after the game that we could enjoy it for two days, but come Monday, there’s no looking back,” Davis said. “The first seven weeks are over and we’ve got to move on. And, for the most part this season, this group has been good at that.”

Saturday’s game with the Jets is the final home game of the season for the Big Reds unless they finish in the top four of the Region 17 computer rankings.

“I’ve talked to our seniors about being able to leave Nelson Field on a good note,” Davis said. “Winning your last home game is something that you’ll always remember.”

While the Jets know they’re not heading to the postseason, they could play the role of spoiler and the recipe hasn’t changed for Coach Mark Cisar’s Jets.

“We have to get off to a better start than we did against Buckeye Local,” Cisar said. “We don’t have any big-time playmakers, so we have to be consistent, not turn the ball over and limit the big plays and yardage as best we can.”

Limiting Bellaire’s offense has been a challenge for all seven of the Big Reds’ opponents thus far especially with junior standout Spencer Badia leading the way.

“They like to throw it all over the field and they do a good job of it,” Cisar said. “It’s certainly going to be a challenge for us. They’ve got about five different kids they can throw the ball to and they’ve shown that they’re also capable of running the ball when needed. We’ll have to bend, but not break.”

Badia has passed for 1,692 yards and 13 touchdowns this season on 128-of-244 accuracy. He’s been picked off eight times.

His bevy of receivers is led by junior Nick Patrone, who’s made 40 catches for 569 yards and three touchdowns.

Other possible targets include Quinton Crosby (22-319-3td), Kenny Hess (19-226-2td), Hunter Westlake (17-273-3td) and Nick Maffe (16-204-2td).

Maffe is also the Big Reds’ leading rusher with 374 yards and seven touchdowns. Badia has been effective as a runner with 153 yards and three scores.

The Jets’ offense, meanwhile, has been only scoring nine points a game this season, but has made some progress in the last few weeks.

“Union Local is competing and playing hard,” Davis said. “When you’re doing those things, good things can always happen. They’re scrappy and we understand what they’re going through with so many young kids playing. We have to be aware because it only takes one day for it all to click for a team.”

Union Local quarterback Gavin Porter has displayed steady progress. He’s thrown for 697 yards, but just two touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s ran for 270 yards and three scores.

Porter has three primary targets in the passing game. Kaleb McDiffit (23-283-2td), Eric Dunfee (17-181) and Travis James (13-123) are developing into solid wide receivers.

Dunfee is also a solid ball carrier with 219 yards and two scores.

“We need to avoid penalties,” Cisar said. “We’ve had a few huge ones that have haunted us. We’re also dropping too many passes and we have continue to try to run the ball. The kids are playing hard, so I definitely like what I see there.”

The Bellaire defense has been solid this season. Dalton Conroy, who is also a more than viable weapon in the kicking game, is one of the defensive leaders.

“We’ve been extremely impressed with Bellaire’s defense,” Cisar said. “They’re scrappy. They’ve brought guys when they’ve needed to and their quickness and toughness make a difference.”