FOR THE St. Clairsville Red Devils, a long and successful journey has arrived on championship's doorstep.
The final step will be the most difficult, as well it should. State titles do not come easily. That is reflected by the fact no Belmont County school has captured a state football championship.
This will be the fifth attempt for a Belmont County school to grab the football brass ring. Bellaire and Shadyside have each tasted state title tilt defeat twice in their storied annals.
Now it's the Red Devils' turn to seal the deal.
Coach Brett McLean's battle-tested warriors have gone unscathed in 14 games this season. A week ago, St. C. delivered a lethal blow to defending state champion and previously unbeaten Norwayne in convincing fashion.
When the Red Devils take the field Friday afternoon at Canton's historic Fawcett Stadium, they will be pitted against Clinton-Massie, from suburban Cincinnati. The Falcons are 14-0, having established a new state single-season scoring record while eliminating No. 1-ranked Bishop Hartley in the semifinals.
Suffice to say, Clinton-Massie is a potent foe. You would expect nothing else in Week 15.
Clinton-Massie appears to possess a one-dimensional attack. These Falcons rarely take to the air, preferring an infantry assault.
St. Clairsville, meanwhile, boasts a diversified arsenal as well as a stout defense that will be primed to stifle the run. The Red Devils are quality in all phases, including fan support.
The Falcons will be facing a rare bird in these Red Devils. They are as close-knit as they are talented, and they have plenty of that.
McLean's charges have a selflessness and focus coaches can only dream of. The 2012 Red Devils also are guided by a staff which is exceptional and ego-free. McLean and his grid lieutenants have masterfully authored a championship script.
That being the case, we congratulate the entire Red Devil nation on a superlative season, and wish them the best of luck against Clinton-Massie.
We are also of total confidence that come Friday night, Belmont County will be celebrating its first state football championship.