ST. CLAIRSVILLE – With the post-season rapidly approaching in each Ohio and West Virginia groups proceed to battle it out for positioning and residential playoff video games in every respective state.
A sport with loads of factors for seeding, and somewhat little bit of bragging rights as effectively, will kick off Thursday night time at 7 p.m. when Wheeling Central (5-2) pays a go to to St. Clairsville (7-1). Each groups are perennial playoff contributors, and each are as soon as once more battle examined this season.
Coach Mike Younger’s Maroon Knights, who blasted Martins Ferry by a 41-6 margin final week, will deliver a three-game profitable streak into the competition whereas Brett McLean’s streaking Purple Devils have gained six consecutive outings which features a lop-sided 55-7 verdict of Union Native final Friday night time.
“12 months in and yr out we go to apply day by day and we pleasure ourselves on our capability to arrange and prepare for Friday nights,” Younger mentioned.
“These are very coachable youngsters, and they’re consistently working to get higher. This might be one other large sport for us and we all know we’ve to win sufficient, and show sufficient to each get to, and achieve success within the playoffs.”
Each may also herald loads of fireplace energy each on offense and protection with Central scoring a minimum of 47 factors in every of its final three video games whereas St. Clairsville has tallied a minimum of 55 in three of its final 5 victories. The Purple Devils have additionally not allowed greater than 16 factors in any of its final six whereas giving up 57 factors whole throughout that run and simply 110 via eight video games.
“We had been lucky final week to come back out and execute like we did so early and get forward,” McLean commented. “Actually, we weren’t anticipating that, we had been in search of a four-quarter battle, however I’m pleased with how the youngsters performed and really pleased with our reserve and freshmen gamers for getting high quality taking part in time and taking part in so effectively.
“However we’ve to place that sport behind us now. We got here out of it wholesome, and we’ve been burning the midnight oil preparing for Central. We wish to come out able to play Thursday. You all the time know there’s a probability that one sport the place issues don’t go your method could be on the market and it’s a must to be prepared and conscious of that.
“You might need to grind it out and make changes and maintain going. It’s a protracted season and it’s a must to be prepared for something.”
The Maroon Knights, lengthy recognized for its capability to pile up large numbers within the working sport, nonetheless has that capability with a pleasant steady of backs, however Wheeling Central has proven it may also be formidable within the passing assault as effectively. Senior Michael Toepfer has thrown eight landing passes within the workforce’s final two video games, together with 4 to classmate Caleb Ratcliffe towards the Purple Riders.
In just a bit over two quarters of motion final week Toepfer threw for 232 yards with Ratcliffe catching 5 passes for 155 yards and the 4 scores. Braxton Anderson is somebody that may be harmful each on the bottom and thru the air.
Senior Cody Martos and juniors Lorenzo Ferrera and Riley Watkins all break up time working the ball, normally paying large dividends. Ferrera had simply six totes for 77 yards and two touchdowns every week in the past whereas Watkins additionally discovered the tip zone and completed with 45 stripes. The Knights’ protection performed an enormous half in final week’s win, permitting Ferry simply 69 whole yards of offense.
“Our depth and our steadiness have been good this season,” Younger added. “And we’ve numerous youngsters that may each carry and the catch the soccer. Michael (Toepfer) and (backup quarterback) Payton (Hildebrand) have each completed a fantastic job for us beneath middle when we’ve wanted them to. They do a fantastic job encouraging one another and exhibiting confidence and help. It’s all the time subsequent man up at any given time and we’re prepared.
“Our steadiness has actually helped when groups gang up and attempt to cease our run, that’s when the play-action turns into an enormous a part of our sport.”
McLean is aware of that Wheeling Central is an efficient soccer workforce and that his workforce will as soon as once more have their arms full.
“They’re actually good, however that’s what we’re seeing each week,” McLean quipped. “We noticed them towards Bellaire after which we additionally seen them towards Weir in a sport that they had been very sharp and crisp. They unfold you out and make you defend your complete discipline, however as all the time Coach Younger has a strong run sport that’s lights out. Their protection additionally makes it exhausting so that you can discover the tip zone.
“Total, they simply do loads of issues. Jason Rine has been teaching their offense for a very long time and is without doubt one of the many causes they’ve gained state championship after state championship. It actually ought to be a great sport for each faculties, and also you simply hope that each groups come out of it clear and wholesome with the playoffs looming forward.”
Senior Drew Sefsick leads the St. Clairsville offense and is one other two-way risk. Sefsick has thrown for 1,237 yards, together with 101 final week, and in addition ran for 77 stripes on simply two carries, each of which resulted in touchdowns. All-Ohio wideout Collin Oberdick has almost 600 yards via the air and has scored seven instances.
Colt Westlake and Logan Shields every hauled in a landing cross final week whereas senior Jacob Jordan is the workforce’s main rusher with over 800 yards and 13 journeys to the tip zone. Jordan ran for 103 and a rating on seven tries towards the Jets.
In all, the Purple Devils ran for a whopping 431 yards final week and completed with 533 whole yards of offense whereas limiting Union Native to only 86. St. Clairsville is firmly entrenched within the No. 2 spot within the Division IV, Area 15 playoff chase.
“They’ve a heck of a program and Brett and his employees do an excellent job yearly,” Younger mentioned. “Historically they’re very sturdy and highly effective and able to go within the post-season, and that may be a large credit score to these guys.
“We each have difficult instances placing a schedule collectively, and they’re larger than us, we each groups all the time play exhausting and good after we get collectively and I anticipate it to be the identical Thursday night time. You simply need to exit and execute on either side of the soccer.”
St. Clairsville’ gained the workforce’s final assembly by a 35-20 depend in 2019.
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