2013 PLAYOFFS: Beallsville set for lengthy road trip

Overcoming obstacles has been a constant for the Beallsville football program this season.

So, who’s to say they can’t overcome another one Saturday night?

”We hope to surprise some people,” Blue Devils head coach Paul Kanzigg said.

Beallsville will make the trek southwest to Athens County to face unbeaten Glouster Trimble in one of four Ohio Division VII, Region 25 quarterfinals.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

The winner will face the winner of Saturday’s 4-5 contest at Steubenville’s Reno Field at Harding Stadium pitting Steubenville Catholic and Racine Southern.

Since the Ohio High School Athletic Association expanded the playoff field to eight teams per region in 1999, instances of a No. 8 seed upsetting a No. 1 seed have been few and far between.

Last year, it happened twice.

So, there’s a chance. And that’s all Kanzigg and the Blue Devils are looking for when they battle the Tomcats.

”Once you’re in there, you don’t know,” he said of the school’s ninth playoff berth in school history and first in two years. ”Anything could happen.”

The fact Beallsville is playing in Week 11 could be seen as a testament to what hard work and determination can do.

The program was put behind the 8-ball before the season even started when a budget crisis in the Switzerland of Ohio School District forced administrators to implement a pay-to-participate program and eliminate athletic transportation.

The school board later allowed the teams to use buses, but said the community had to fund its use. And, as it had so many times before, the community came through.

With that taken care of there was the task of the team. Again, numbers were an issue for Kanzigg, entering his second season at the help after taking over for longtime mentor Dave Caldwell.

Add to that the fact a number of solid players had graduated, including standout quarterback Teryn Jarrett.

About 20 took the field for the Blue Devils’ opener at Indian Creek against highly-touted Madonna as part of the McDonald’s OVAC Kickoff Weekend.

And the Blue Dons showed their might in a 63-8 rout.

After that game, Kanzigg had to stress to his squad the game was just one in a 10 game journey.

”I told them they are probably the top Class A school in West Virginia,” Kanzigg recalled. ”I told them we’re probably not going to face anyone like them the rest of the season other than Shadyside.

”We just couldn’t get down on ourselves. With our numbers we had to stay resilient and that’s what we did.

”I think we surprised some people the next week.”

Beallsville traveled to Strasburg and topped the Tigers 36-8 to start a three-game winning streak.

What followed were victories against Paden City (36-14) and Cameron (12-6); both on the road.

”It shows the type of players we have here,” Kanzigg said regarding the ability to overcome adversity. ”They play their hearts out.

”Most of the boys go both ways. Most don’t get a break. They show hard work and dedication to the program. I’m just trying to maintain it.”

Following the Cameron victory, Beallsville dropped two straight, falling to Frontier (14-6) and Shadyside (55-20). They followed that up by capturing three of its final four. Victories were earned against Toronto (32-18), Bridgeport (35-21) and St. John (39-0), with the defeat coming on the road at Bishop Donahue (42-13), a possible Mountain State playoff participant.

”We’ve faced some pretty good competition this year,” Kanzigg said, noting Beallsville also scrimmaged West Virginia Class A power St. Marys in the preseason.

”If we can protect our quarterback I think we can make a real ballgame out of it,” Kanzigg said. ”I feel we can slow them down. They’ve only given up five touchdowns all year. But you have to believe in yourselves.”

Yes, five TDs. That’s all the Tomcats have allowed. One came against Wahama in Week 2, two came against Eastern in Week 7, and the other two came against Southern in Week 9.

Trimble’s other seven games were shutouts. In fact, the Tomcats have trailed once all season, 14-7 vs. Southern.

”Their defense is pretty impressive,” Kanzigg said. ”We’ll go with what we do. We’ll spread the ball around.”

Chase Mercer guides the Beallsville offense. The sophomore signalcaller has thrown for 997 yards and 13 touchdowns, with six interceptions. He missed three games, including last week due to injuries. He’ll be under center Saturday.

”They run a similar offense to ours,” Trimble head coach Phil Faires said. ”They like to throw it and they get better and better as the game progresses.”

The Blue Devils’ backfield consists of senior fullback Bruce Sefert (397 yards, 9 TD) and tailback Joey Cunningham (470 yards, 3 TD). The two back is senior Derek Lucas (46 rec., 545 yards, 5 TD).

Junior Mikey Palmer (34 rec., 534 yards, 7 TD) is the split end.

”We think we can move the ball through the air,” Kanzigg said.

The rest of the offense includes Levi Phillips (tight end), Cole Susac (center), Dalton Secrest (right guard), Kris Palmer (left guard), Aaron West (inside tackle) and Tristan Palmer (outside tackle).

”Their offensive and defensive lines look pretty strong,” Faires said.

Kris Palmer is the nose tackle in Beallsville 5-3 defense, with Tristan Palmer and Secrest the tackles.

West and Sefert are the ends and Susac is the middle linebacker, with Lucas and Phillips the other backers

Robert Valentine and Mikey Palmer are the corners and Mercer is the safety.

This season’s Trimble squad is the first undefeated one for the school since 1989 and is the third in school history.

This year also marks the first time a senior class has gone to the playoff every season.

”This team’s been enjoying the ride,” Faires, in his 20th season, said. ”It will be fun playing on our home field.”

Last fall, the Tomcast opened the playoffs with a 41-6 triumph against Colonel Crawford before falling to eventual state runner-up Newark Catholic in the regional semifinals.

Senior Konnor Standley directs the Trimble offense. He has thrown for 1,787 yards and a school-record 25 touchdowns with five interceptions.

Fullback Jacob Koons, a senior, has nearly 500 yards combined rushing and receiving, while wide out Austin Downs has caught 58 balls for a school-record 1,076 yards and 14 TDs.

”Konnor does it all,” Faires said. ”We like to have the ball in his hands.

”He and Jacob were the only two junior captains I’ve ever had. They were also our captains this season.”

Bryce Mathers is the Tomcats tailback. Justice Jenkins has also played there this year, too, due to Mathers sustaining some injuries.

The tight end is Wyatt Bragg.

Along the line, Faires has Austin Spears at center, Jon Stevens and Jonathan Roback at guards and Micah Couch and Tanner Koons at tackles.

Defensively, Caullen Lunsford is the nose tackle.

Tanner Koons and Stevens are the tackles, while Couch and Jacob Altier are the ends.

Jacob Koons, Standley and Terry Simerly are the linebackers. Downs and Jenkins are the corners, while Bragg is the free safety.