STEUBENVILLE- Big Red put the wraps on another unbeaten regular season Friday night, rolling to a 39-0 victory against Tonawanda Cardinal O'Hara at Harding Stadium.
The 10-0 campaign is the school's seventh in the past nine seasons. Big Red, which has reached the postseason 11 straight years, should enter the Division III Region 11 playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Its official first-round opponent will be revealed Sunday.
"I was talking to a couple of the starters (Friday night) and I asked 'did you ever think we would be 10-0 after our two-a-days,' " coach Reno Saccoccia said. "I didn't know coming out of summer practices that we would have the kind of year that we've had. We have come so far but we still have a way to go. We have improved every week. The kids this year are really into this football stuff mentally and that makes a big difference."
Steubenville’s Leshawn Luke finds himself all alone against O’Hara on Friday night.
Photo by Ron Gardner
Prior to Friday's kickoff, Big Red honored its 15 seniors. Once the action began, several of those 12th-graders played key roles in putting the visitors away early.
On Big Red's second possession, Jo Jo Pierro sprinted 41 yards on a stretch play for a first down deep in Cardinal O'Hara territory. A play later, LeShawn Luke burst up the middle for an 11-yard score.
Early in the second period, quarterback Marcus Prather found a wide open Najee Murray from 43 yards out. The speedy Murray easily beat the Hawks defender, caught the Prather aerial at the 4 and walked into the end zone.
Luke then capped a nine-play, 74-yard scoring drive when he motored to the end zone from yards away. Prather passed for 42 of the yards and ran for 8 more. Luke Smith's third successful conversion try gave Steubenville a 21-0 halftime advantage.
During the initial two periods, the Big Red defense, led by William Houst, Luke and Bubba Costantini, forced O'Hara to punt of its first five possessions.
Steubenville ran 20 offensive plays in the first half, gaining 238 yards and scoring three times.
Senior Kelvin Grissom made it 29-0 right after the half when he went up and over an O'Hara defender to snag a pass from Cory Stinson.
Sophomore Chez Glenn and freshman Trent Mays recorded the final two touchdowns. Glenn scored from 2 yards away and Mays plunged in from the 1.
Three of Big Red's initial four touchdowns came following fine efforts from special teams. Evan Westlake set up the first two with punt returns of 16 and 36 yards. Michael Jett went 32 yards with the second-half kickoff. Improvement on special teams was a goal Saccoccia set for his team this week.
"What I was preaching during the game as far as special teams was to be more aggressive," Saccoccia. "I think my personality sometimes makes the kid apprehensive and they don't want to make mistakes. I wanted them to go out and be more aggressive. Hopefully, we can take that aggressiveness to the playoffs."
Big Red finished with 318 yards on 46 plays. Pierro carried the ball twice for 85 yards. Glenn finished with 55 on eight trips. Prather had another efficient evening, completing 7 of 10 passes for 104 yards and a score. He connected on five straight before giving way to Stinson.