Success in St. C. not limited to basketball
There’s a cliche that says high school sports are cyclical.
If you examine the run of late of the St. Clairsville Red Devils’ athletic program, one would immediately believe that its on the upswing.
When considering the amount of success on the local, district, regional and state levels of late, the Red Devils have certainly etched their name into some elite company.
This Friday’s appearance in the OHSAA’s Division II State Basketball Tournament is certainly one of the high points.
Actually, without disrespecting any other sport, some would go as far as to say the state basketball tournament is the crown jewel of the OHSAA calendar basically just because of what it entails to get there.
“This is an absolutely awesome experience,” said St. C. Superintendent Walt Skaggs. “This is as excited as I’ve seen people in a long time. Everything (the basketball team) has done, basically, is making history and setting school records.”
Thus far this school year, the Red Devils have won five OVAC titles, sent their golf team, boys cross country team and now basketball team to their respective state tournament.
“I think (our success) is a combination of a couple of things,” said St. C. Athletic Director Kelly Rine. “We’ve talked about this a lot amongst the coaching staffs, booster groups and parent groups. We’ve got a lot of really, really good kids in our system who buy into what our coaches are telling them and they come from good families.”
You don’t have to look any further than their basketball team, which has won 22 games in a row and will meet Elida in Friday afternoon’s Division II state semifinal.
At a school the size of St. Clairsville, most of the athletes play more than one sport. Many of the teams who are involved in this weekend’s state basketball tournament have strictly basketball players.
The Red Devils have athletes who can shine in all sporting arenas.
“We’ve had an unbelievable run in sports of late,” Skaggs said. “I would take any one of these kids (on the basketball team) as a son. They’re just great kids, who are well-mannered and it’s a tribute to their parents and coaches.”
Speaking of the Red Devils’ golf team, three of the members of the hoop team were amongst the top five on Rick Oberdick’s golf squad in the fall, which won the district title en route to the state tournament.
Juniors Zach Keylor, Adam Jeffries and Jared Burghy all played critical roles in the St. C. putting success last fall.
As for the football team, the Red Devils qualified for the Division IV postseason and outlasted Chesapeake in the opening round before falling to Coshocton in the second round.
Junior Jerrid Marhefka was a first-team all-Ohioan for that squad, while junior Dan Monteroso was one of the team’s top receiving threats. Sophomore Joel Giffin was also a letterman on the football team.
Taking it back to last spring, the Red Devils won the district baseball title and junior Riley Carlton was the starting catcher on that team. Throw in that Marhefka ran at the state track meet and, while it’s not school related, Jeffries and Keylor both had outstanding summers on the youth golf circuit.
On top of their success in the athletic arenas, the Red Devils just boast good kids, who are mature, handle themselves with class and are solid representatives of St. C. and the entire Ohio Valley.
“Our kids have strong character, strong academics and strong work ethic,” Rine said. “They buy into what we’re trying to tell them and it’s working.”
Obviously, there’s not a senior on the roster, so there’s a strong chance that – barring something unforseen – the string of success is going to continue in St. Clairsville.
But neither Clifford, his coaching staff nor players are thinking that far ahead as they’ve got their eyes planted firmly on Elida.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org