Bellaire looks to stay hot when it visits Richmond

The Bellaire Big Reds are certain about one thing this week.

They won’t be overlooking Edison and its 2-6 mark Friday when the teams meet in Richmond at 7:30 p.m.

Not that it was needed, but the Wildcats certainly caught the Big Reds’ attention after they posted an impressive 35-22 victory against Martins Ferry last Friday at Purple Rider Stadium.

“I don’t think their record is any indication of the typ of team they are,” said Davis. “They played very inspired football last week, obviously, and they’re a typical Edison team that we’ve faced the last three years.”

The Big Reds took care of Union Local last Saturday in their home finale and are now sitting in seventh place in the OHSAA Division V, Region 17 computer poll.

“We still have two weeks to go and our focus has to be on continuing to improve and getting better,” Davis said. “We have to continue to be disciplined and play with consistency.”

The Wildcats, meanwhile, are looking to end their season on the upswing and a victory against the Big Reds and then a chance to spoil arch rival Indian Creek’s season could go a long way in making that happen.

“It’s always for our kids to get a win,” said personable Wildcats’ head coach Mike McKenzie. “We’ve dealt with a lot of adversity this year, but the kids have stepped up and responded. I just couldn’t be prouder of how they played last weekend.”

In beating the Purple Riders last week, Edison was the beneficiary of seven turnovers, including five in the first 24 minutes.

“Obviously, (this) is a much different scheme than we saw,” McKenzie said. “We had to stop the run last week and this week it’s the pass, but Bellaire is certainly capable of running it. This is a big, big challenge because Bellaire is very good.”

In stopping the pass, the Wildcats must find a way to get pressure on junior quarterback Spencer Badia, who’s been brilliant. For the season, he’s thrown for 2,074 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s also ran for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns.

The tough part of dealing with the Big Reds’ no huddle, pass-happy attack is covering their bevy of receivers. The group, which features no fewer than four players with 20 or more catches, is led by junior Nick Patrone (47-669-4td), senior Quinton Crosby (26-389-4td), Kenny Hess (23-337-4td) and Hunter Westlake (21-341-3td). Tyler West is another viable option.

“Bellaire can throw the quick, short passes, but they’re also capable of throwing the deep ball,” McKenzie said. “They do a nice job taking advantage of what you’re giving them, so we’ll have to mix things up. I think our kids will be ready for the challenge.”

Nick Maffe is the Big Reds’ leading rusher with 398 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, have been balanced offensively. They’re a spread team, but McKenzie was especially proud of how well they ran the ball when they needed to last week.

Junior quarterback Nolan Marcus leads the charge. He’s an adept runner and passer. He threw for 148 yards and ran for better than 60 and two scores last week. Chris Grazianni is one of the top options at tailback. He ran for better than 90 yards and a score last week.

“They’ve got some good power up front and they’ve shown the ability to be able to run the ball well,” Davis said. “The last three years, this has been a field goal game. I expect another tight game this week.”

If it comes down to kicking, Bellaire’s Dalton Conroy – with seven field goals – is certainly a weapon.