St. Clairsville, Martins Ferry renew rivalry Friday

MARTINS FERRY — Week in and week out, the Buckeye 8 Athletic League provides rivalry matchups with intense atmospheres.

One of the most annually anticipated games of the league season will unfold Friday evening at the Dave Bruney Football Complex when Martins Ferry welcomes undefeated and state-ranked St. Clairsville.

“We know that the Buckeye 8 is going to be physical and rough football,” St. C. head coach Brett McLean said. “With the rivalries and history between schools, we have better have our acts together when the game starts.”

While the Red Devils come in with a spotless 3-0 record and fresh off an impressive win over Meadowbrook, the Purple Riders are coming in riding a high, too. Ferry steamrolled Union Local, 50-7, last week for its first victory of the season.

“The program hasn’t been in that (0-2) situation (since 2005), so it’s definitely great to get that first win, but now we have to get back to work,” Ferry second-year coach Chas Yoder said. “We obviously didn’t start the way we wanted to, but we’ve improved each week and we’ve made fewer mistakes. All you can ask is to get a little bit better each week.”

The Purple Riders took no prisoners against the Jets, accumulating 506 yards of total offense. Included was a 289-yard passing performance by senior quarterback Jacob Probst.

“We know Martins Ferry is extremely capable offensively,” McLean said. “They’re doing a lot of good things. They have a ton of lettermen back and a lot of three and four-year starters. Taking on a veteran team on the road is never easy.”

Probst and senior Dasyn Hores have been the Riders’ go-to-combination in the passing game. They’ve hooked up 16 times for 296 yards and 5 touchdowns already this season. In the rush game, senior Caleb Olson is the leader with 141 yards and 3 touchdowns on 30 carries.

St. Clairsville, meanwhile, is averaging better than 35 points a game with a bevy of offensive weapons being utilized behind a large and talented offensive line.

“Up and down the roster, on both sides of the ball, they’re just a good team,” Yoder said. “They have a really good offensive line and good backs. The quarterback can run, too.”

Junior quarterback Tyler Tonkovich orchestrates the Red Devils’ attack. He’s rushed for 153 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’s thrown for 284 yards on 25-of-41 accuracy with three touchdowns.

The Devils’ leading rushers are the backfield combination of Aaron Jordan (56-287-5TDs) and Jacob Jordan (33-214-3TDs).

Austin DaRe and Derek Witsberger are the leading receivers with six catches each.