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St. Clairsville ranked No. 1 in first D-IV poll

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Most coaches would love for their teams to simply fly under the radar for as long as possible.

St. Clairsville football coach Brett McLean is among those with that thought process.

Any chance of that happening for the remainder of the 2020 season probably went right out the window Monday afternoon when the first Associated Press Poll of the campaign was released.

The Red Devils garnered five first-place votes and are sitting atop of the Division IV poll for the first time since McLean has been the coach.

“We have a lot of things to continue to work on,” McLean said. “We’re simply trying to get ready for the next game and it just so happens to be a big game against a quality opponent (in Martins Ferry).”

The Red Devils are one of three area teams to be listed in the top 10 of their respective division. Bellaire is sitting in seventh in Division V, while Steubenville is sixth in Division III.

St. Clairsville, meanwhile, collected 119 points, which was three more than Bloom-Carroll.

Regardless of what the state-wide media panel believes, McLean, his staff and players went back to the practice field simply trying to get better as they’re coming off a solid win over East Liverpool.

“We know it’s still a young season and there are so many things going on that we don’t disclose or things that people don’t know about,” McLean said. “Polls and rankings really aren’t even a topic that I want to think about. We simply have to be ready to play well on Friday.”

McLean admits to having used different polls he’s seen over the course of his career as motivational tools for his own players.

However, being on top of a poll sort of eliminates the opportunity to utilize that.

“There are (different) polls everywhere,” McLean said. “I usually use them try to excite our kids, but I think all coaches do that.”

Along with the victory against the Potters, the Red Devils opened with a win over Oak Hill that was delayed by storms for more than four hours and then followed that up with their lone road trip thus far with a cherished, come-from-behind victory against a highly regarded Wheeling Park squad.

“We know we have to be ready every Friday and there are times when we weren’t like that last year,” McLean admitted. “I think we’re far from being good right now. We know that.

“We have so many areas where we need to execute better.”

While the poll makes for good water-cooler talk, the season is still quite young, but the OHSAA tournament opens in less than a month as every team will qualify for the postseason.

“I think it’s way too early to make judgements on any teams,” McLean said. “That’s especially true in this season because there are so many different storylines going on around the Ohio. We’re just focused on getting better each day and week.”

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