Monroe not looking past Barnesville

It’s been Jay Circosta’s experience that 7-3 normally doesn’t get a Monroe Central football team into the playoffs.

This year could be an exception.

”Normally, in our region you need to be at least 8-2 to get in,” the veteran coach said. ”I think our kids understand and feel fortunate they still have a chance to get in.”

The Seminoles stand at 4-3 heading into Friday night’s contest at Barnesville. A victory against the Shamrocks (1-6) and triumphs against Frontier (3-4) and Buckeye Trail (2-5) to round out the regular season, Circosta believes, would give his squad a good shot at a postseason berth.

”But you really can’t look ahead,” Circosta cautioned. ”Our main focus is on Barnesville and them only.

”If we’re successful Friday night it sets up an interesting last couple of weeks. But we have to take them one week at a time. We can only control what we can control and that’s trying to win the last three ballgames.

”We just have to see what happens.”

Monroe Central sits in eighth place in the Division VI, Region 21 computer ratings, comfortably ahead of Gahanna Columbus Academy and behind Fort Frye, a team it beat three weeks ago. Bellaire is third in the region, while unbeaten Columbus Bishop Ready tops it.

It’s certainly been a tail of two seasons in Woodsfield. After starting the campaign with two losses, the Seminoles have won four out of five, including last week’s 56-9 pasting of Shenandoah.

The hiccup in the run was a 32-8 loss at Magnolia two weeks ago.

”We just started off on the wrong foot in that game,” Circosta said. ”We played pretty good defense, I thought, but we couldn’t generate any offense.

”When you can’t run the football it’s tough to do anything offensively.”

Monroe Central’s fortunes started to change when Curtis Nixon stepped behind center. And against Shenandoah last week, the change continued to pay dividends.

Nixon rushed seven times for 146 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed seven of 10 passes for 157 yards and another score.

”The Nixon kid is a good athlete and he can do a lot with the ball,” Barnesville head coach Matt Johnson said. ”And Levi Brown is a good, hard runner. We’re obviously going to have to do the fundamentals well and get them down.

”They’re just fundamentally sound. They just do what they do and they do it really well. We’ll have to be on top of our game and get a few breaks along the way.”

The Shamrocks enter play 1-6 coming off a 56-0 thumping at the hands of state-ranked Steubenville Catholic.

”Matt’s done a lot of good things there and changed the whole atmosphere for the better,” Circosta said. ”It’s just unfortunate they’ve had a lot of injuries and what not.

”They’ve turned the ball over a good bit, too.

”It’s a nice rivalry and I think it brings out the best in both teams regardless of records. I know they’ll play hard.”

Daniel Brown rushed for 88 yards last week against the Crusaders.

”It’s been frustrating, but it’s not been because of a lack of effort,” Johnson said. “We feel like if we do the right things and take care of the ball we can be in the game.”