A look back at St. C.’s road to Canton

St. Clairsville’s magical run to the Division IV state championship game Friday against Clarksville Clinton-Massie began way back in early August when two-a-day practices began.

Actually, the season began shortly after the Red Devils were eliminated in the second round of the 2011 playoffs by Coshocton when the players reported to the weight room.

All of the hard work paid off as St. Clairsville finds itself playing in Week 15 for all the marbles at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. in the shadows of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Let’s take a look back week-by-week at how the high-scoring Red Devils reached the title tilt on the last day of November.

Week 1: St. Clairsville 47, Wheeling Park 27

(at Wheeling Island Stadium, Wheeling, W.Va.)

The Red Devils shook off a sluggish start as junior sensation had just one of his breakout games. He ran for 149 yards and scored five touchdowns via the ground as St. Clairsville rebounded from a 13-12 halftime deficit, the only time the Red Devils trailed at the intermission.

Brown wasn’t finished, however, as he returned an interception for six points that sparked the second-half rally.

The Patriots were limited to just 37 yards of offense in the second half by the Red Devils’ stingy defense.

Week 2: St. Clairsville 44, Brooke 14

(at Brooke Memorial Stadium, Wellsburg, W.Va.)

The Red Devils wasted no time in jumping all over the Bruins as Matt Kinnick and Dan Monteroso hooked up for long touchdowns on St. Clairsville’s first two offensive plays of the game.

Kinnick finished with a season-high six TD tosses, with four of them going to Monteroso, a Boston College recruit. He also found Jay Gossett and J.C. Coleman.

The Red Devils’ defense had pitched a shutout until late in the fourth quarter.

Week 3: St. Clairsville 56, Dayton Jefferson 26

(at Red Devil Stadium,

St. Clairsville)

The Red Devils finally made their home debut after a season-opening trip through the northern panhandle of West Virginia with a thorough whipping of the visiting Broncos.

Kinnick completed just five passes for 169 yards in limited action, but four of them went for touchdowns. He connected with Monteroso for three more six-pointers, and also found University of Michigan recruit Michael Ferns for the other.

The first unit defense put forth another sterling effort as the visitors scored late.

Week 4: St. Clairsville 48, Indian Creek 6

(at Kettlewell Memorial Stadium, Wintersville)

The ‘Meetin’ of the Unbeaten’ never materialized as the Red Devils scored early and often in posting their first Buckeye 8 victory of the season.

Monteroso faked a punt near midfield on St. Clairsville’s first possession, and the visitors were never slowed from there as Brown scored six plays later.

Then, on the Redskins’ first drive, the hosts were forced to punt and Brown split the gap, blocked the kick and scooped it up for a score.

St. Clairsville’s defense rose to the occasion as it forced four turnovers. Luke Smith and Gossett were the main forces, as was Ferns.

Week 5: St. Clairsville 42, Harrison Central 6

(at Wagner Field, Cadiz)

The Red Devils trailed 6-0 early on, but rebounded quickly as Brown, after a couple of ‘off’ weeks, ran for 213 yards and three TDs as St. Clairsville captured the coveted Coal Bucket.

Just before the half, Monteroso picked off a Huskies’ pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown.

The defense once again rose to the occasion as it held highly touted Maurtice Hython to 90 hard-earned yards.

Week 6: St. Clairsville 58, Bellaire 14

(at Red Devil Stadium,

St. Clairsville)

Brown shined once again as he lugged the leather 19 times for 224 yards and five more touchdowns. If that wasn’t enough, he caught three passes for 100 additional stripes and found the end zone for a sixth time.

Kinnick was on target 11 of 19 times for 233 yards and two TDs, but did suffer his first interception.

The defense was up to the task against Bellaire’s spread offense as it held Spencer Badia to a 9-for-25 performance that resulted in a season-low 105 yards for the 3,000-yard passer.

Week 7: St. Clairsville 56, Edison 27

(at Cartwright Stadium, Richmond)

The Red Devils had no trouble with the Wildcats, but this game had a story that made national news.

During the week leading up to the game, one of the Red Devils – Logan Thompson – lost his father due to a stroke. Thompson’s coaches came up with a play designed to lift the youngster’s spirits and give him something to remember for the rest of his life.

Ferns broke a long run and appeared headed for a touchdown, but stepped out of bounds at the one. Head coach Brett McLean immediately summoned Thompson and told him to follow Ferns into the end zone. That’s exactly what happened, and as they say, the rest is history, but good history.

Monteroso caught five passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Week 8: St. Clairsville 48, Buckeye Local 6

(at Red Devil Stadium,

St. Clairsville)

On a night when St. Clairsville honored four great Red Devil athletes of the past, the 2012 edition of the Red Devils put on another offensive show.

Scoring on four plays of 57 yards or better and limiting the Panthers to just 164 total yards, the unbeaten and state-ranked Red Devils registered another Buckeye 8 win.

The defense pitched a shutout as Buckeye Local’s lone score came on a fumble return.

Kinnick completed 8 of 13 passes for 225 yards and three TDs. Brown picked up 155 yards and scored once.

Week 9: St. Clairsville 47, Martins Ferry 13

(at Red Devil Stadium,

St. Clairsville)

Senior Jerrid Marhefka had only two catches, but they went for 104 yards and a six-pointer.

Kinnick went 9-for-20 for 237 yards and a trio of touchdowns. Brown had 160 yards and four TDs on the ground. brown also latched onto a touchdown pass.

St. Clairsville received strong defensive games from Smith, Ferns, Colby Lindsay, Corey Ernest, Titus Lepic and Marhefka.

Week 10: St. Clairsville 54, Union Local 12

(at Jets Stadium, Morristown)

For the first time since 2007, the Red Devils completed a perfect 10-0 season.

St. Clairsville’s offensive line did yeoman’s work. The unit includes Ernest, Joel Giffin, Cole Stephen, VanVoltenburg and Tom Parker.

Not many starters put up big numbers as they were rested after building a big lead.

The defense was led by four interceptions, including a pick-6 by Monteroso. Marhefka, Tanner Nemeti and Titus Lepic also had thefts.

Placekicker Zach Musilli, who has been strong all season, knocked through a 25-yard field goal.

Week 11: Division IV, Region 15 Quarterfinal

St. Clairsville 41,

Harrison Central 6

(at Red Devil Stadium,

St. Clairsville)

The Red Devils began the second season by shellacking the Huskies for the second time in seven weeks.

Kinnick triggered the offensive outburst once again, finding his targets on 11 of 14 attempts. He threw four touchdowns, including two to Monteroso, who caught five passes for 183 yards.

Brown carried nine times for 110 yards and a pair of TDs.

The defense held Hython in check for a second time, limiting the all-Ohioan to 112 yards on 22 carries.

Week 12: Division IV, Region 15 Semifinal

St. Clairsville 59, Piketon 27

(at Chieftan Stadium, Logan)

Brown exploded for six touchdowns and 186 yards on a mere 11 touches.

Kinnick went for 230 yards on just seven completions. Marhefka had four receptions for 124 yards and a TD. Monteroso caught a 39-yard six-pointer.

St. Clairsville’s first-string offense had just two plays go for negative yardage and one of those was on a bad snap.

Week 13: Division IV, Region 15 Championship

St. Clairsville 37,

Johnstown-Monroe 27

(at John D. Sulsberger Stadium, Zanesville)

The Red Devils built a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, but then had to hold on for the victory, which gave St. Clairsville its third regional championship in school history, the others coming in 1983 and 1986.

Kinnick once again was the man as he completed 14 passes for 260 yards and four more TDs, giving him 34 on the season. He also ran for a score.

When the Johnnies, the defending regional champions, sliced the deficit to 24-21 in the third quarter, Kinnick found Marhefka on a back-breaking 66-yard scoring play.

Week 14: Division IV, Region 15 State Semifinal

St. Clairsville 40,

Creston Norwayne 27

(at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Massillon)

The Red Devils dispatched the defending state champions behind an outstanding all-around effort by Monteroso, and another clutch TD catch by Marhefka.

St. Clairsville’s defense was led by Gossett, who was in the Johnnies’ backfield seemingly all night long. Ferns, Smith, Lindsay and Marhefka all turned in brilliant performances.

However, it was Kinnick that saved his best performance for the biggest stage. He completed 17 of 29 passes for a career-high 430 yards and three TDs. He also scored on a trio of 1-yard runs.

Monteroso caught a season-best 10 balls for a season-high 264 yards and two more TDs, which gave him 16 for the season. Marhefka’s TD reception was another thing of beauty as it covered 76 yards and gave the Red Devils the lead for good after the Bobcats had tied it at 27.

Week 15: Division IV State Championship

St. Clairsville (14-0) vs. Clarksville

Clinton-Massie (14-0)

(at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium, Canton)

Anything can happen when a team gets this far.

A win would give Belmont County its first state football championship ever. Bellaire and Shadyside have twice been bridesmaids.