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St. Clairsville, Meadowbrook set for meetin’ of unbeatens in Division IV

File Photo/KRISTIN MAZGAJ ST. CLAIRSVILLE QB Tyler Tonkovich (2) and running back Jacob Jordan (13) have been two of the key Red Devil cogs all season. They’ll be in action again Saturday night at Red Devil Stadium against Meadowbrook in a Division IV, Region 15 semifinal.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The St. Clairsville Red Devils have made enough extended runs in the football postseason to realize that with each passing game the challenge gets a little tougher.

Brett McLean didn’t need to look long at the Meadowbrook statistics to realize his team is going to have to take it up another notch this week if it hopes to advance in the Division IV, Region 15 tournament.

“When you’re playing a team that scores 60 points a game, those numbers jump off the page,” McLean said. “They’re, statistically, off the chart with a very, very potent attack.”

The Red Devils, who are coming off the third shutout in their playoff history last week against Vincent Warren, will welcome the Colts, who had been consistent members of the regular-season schedule up until this season when they departed the OVAC for the Muskingum Valley League, Saturday at 7 p.m. for a regional semifinal.

The Colts come into the game with a spotless 8-0 record. Actually, Meadowbrook has ran roughshod through its schedule, winning by an average of 32 points a game. In the postseason, they’ve dispatched Philo (52-37) and Galia Academy (58-40).

“We felt really strong about this team as far back as March when we really sat down and looked at what we had coming back,” Meadowbrook head coach Coular Clendenning said. “We felt good about our 10-game schedule and thought we could go undefeated, but once we got that cut to a six-game schedule, we really felt that going undefeated could be a real possibility.”

What excites Clendenning, who is in his second season at the helm, the most about his team is the fact that it’s still “making improvements” as it enters the 10th week of the season.

“I feel like we’re playing some of our best ball, and every week, I feel like our offense gets a little bit closer to perfect,” Clendenning said. “We’re always being productive and we’re never making the same mistakes.”

Meadowbrook’s offense is led by quarterback Davis Singleton, who has been brilliant all season. He’s completed 109-of-150 passes for 1,770 yards and 19 touchdowns, while being intercepted just twice. He’s also been an impressive runner, too. He’s gained a team-best 885 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.

“(Singleton) makes it click both as a runner and passer,” McLean said. “It’s really a pick your poison type thing with them because they spread you out so much and put you at a disadvantage because his running ability makes you keep people in the box.”

When Singleton throws, he utilizes a bevy of receivers. All told, four Colts have 17 or more receptions. The leader is Hunter Eubanks wit 29 catches for 385 yards. Jerome Todd has made 24 catches for 548 yards and 7 touchdowns, while Brady McManaway has caught 27 passes for 347 yards and 6 touchdowns. Johna McCall has caught 17 passes for 339 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Tyler Lacey is the second-leading rusher for Meadowbrook with 571 yards and 9 touchdowns on 85 carries.

“They have so many skilled athletes spread out across the field, it’s very tough to defend,” McLean said. “They put you in a lot of one-on-one situations and if they get free of one tackle, it’s six. They can beat you over the top and inside. They make you defend the entire field both width and length. It’s going to be a difficult test.”

The Red Devils’ defense made life tough on Warren last week, posting seven quarterback sacks. Reese Skaggs, Drew Sefsick, Logan McCort and Carson Woodford have all recorded multiple sacks this season. Senior Will Balgo is a force at linebacker.

Austin DaRe leads the secondary with three picks. Jaren Starks is expected to return to the lineup this week, which will help in the backend, too.

“St. Clairsville does a nice job of moving its parts around (defensively),” Clendenning said. “We have to locate the bodies in the box and do a good job of communicating across the board. If we’re able to block the box, everything else will take care of itself.”

On the other side of the ball, Meadowbrook’s defense has given up some points and yards. Though the Colts down three shutouts, they’ve allowed 77 points during the tournament.

“Their defense is really good and part of the issue is we can’t do some of the things other people have done against them to have success, so we have to figure out what we can do to move the ball,” McLean said. “Every team is different. We can’t compare ourselves to where other teams had success.”

Balance has been the name of the game for the Red Devils this season. They’ve relied on senior quarterback Tyler Tonkovich, who has completed 71-of-126 passes for 1,164 yards and 14 touchdowns, at times.

They’ve also relied on the ground game and juniors Jacob Jordan (126-797-9TD) and Logan Shields (45-260-4TD) as well as Tonkovich (97-357-3TD).

And becoming one of their biggest X-factors, junior wide receiver Colin Oberdick has developed into one of the area’s premier home-run hitters in the passing game. He’s caught 31 passes for 804 yards and 10 touchdowns. DaRe is the second-leading receiver with 14 catches for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns. Balgo has also been a solid contributor on offense, scoring four touchdowns.

“St. Clairsville can do a little bit of everything,” Clendenning noted. “They can go to empty, run out of a spread, do RPO type stuff or they can go double tight and run downhill. We have to be able to play physically and play with leverage because I can see them trying to run the ball down our throat. They mix it up so well that we have to be well versed on all aspects.”

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