St. Clairsville, BL set to clash Friday

The St. Clairsville Red Devils have passed the first seven tests of the season with flying colors.

The Buckeye Local Panthers are the next team up to try to slow down the Red Devils, who are on a collision course with a return trip to the Division IV postseason and quite possibly the top seed in the Region 15 tournament in three weeks.

The Panthers, who are coming off a hard-earned win at Union Local, will get their chance Friday night at Red Devil Stadium.

“They’re a good football team and it’s going to take a great effort to come out of that thing alive,” said rookie Panthers’ head coach Phil Pest. “Having said that, we’re going to practice hard all week and work on getting better and go out there and give it our best shot.”

The Red Devils went on the road to Richmond last week and scored 56 points, but Brett McLean and company came home feeling a little bit less than fully satisfied.

“There was good and bad last week,” McLean said. “The expectations are higher than they’ve normally been, but Edison played pretty well, controlled the ball and made some plays.”

McLean has been stressing to his squad that it can’t take anyone lightly at any time. He especially won’t let that happen this week since St. C. needed a late touchdown to post a 26-22 victory a year ago in Yorkville.

“We let off the throttle last season and we stumbled a little bit at this point in the season,” McLean recalled. “This group knows that and it doesn’t want to let it happen again.”

The Red Devils’ offense has been scoring points in bunches this season. St. C. averages better than 50 points a week.

“They’re very talented with all of their Division I prospects,” Pest said. “They’re quarterback is very good. We’re going to try to matchup with them the best we can. We know they’re going to get some yardage, so we have to try to keep the ball and control the clock as best we can.”

The Red Devils’ attack is multi-pronged and multi-faceted. Senior quarterback Matt Kinnick is in the midst of another brilliant season. He’s completed 61-of-97 passes for 1,222 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s been picked off just twice.

Junior speedster Jaylon Brown is one of the Red Devils’ most versatile players. He’s averaging 10 yards a carry with 900 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground.

Senior wide receiver Dan Monteroso -who is committed to Boston College – has caught 27 balls for 587 yards and eight touchdowns. Senior Jerrid Marhefka is the complementary receiver with 10 receptions for 171 yards and two scores. Junior Michael Ferns – a Michigan commit – is someone to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball.

“I don’t put a lot of stock into what other teams do against other teams,” McLean said. “Each team matches up with each other differently. It’s a new week and I think we’ve got a target on our back to the point where teams step it up another notch when they’re on the field against us, so we’re not expecting anything different this week. Buckeye plays an aggressive defense and they try to create some opportunities by getting you for negative plays.”

The Panthers’ offense is triggered by quarterback Nathan Kirk, who’s passed for 648 yards and six touchdowns. He’s been picked off 12 times.

Senior talent Austin Marshall returned to the lineup last week. He’s ran for 386 yards and three touchdowns. Andy Stock is also a viable ball carrier.

Shane Duncan has developed into one of the top receivers in the area. He’s caught 18 passes for 467 yards and four touchdowns.

The Red Devils’ defense is led by Ferns, Luke Smith, Derek Shunk, Corey Ernest, Cole Stephen, Brown, Titus Lepic and Marhefka.