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Football Lookahead: McKenzie Knows Wildcats Have Tall Task Ahead

October 4, 2012
By RICK THORP , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

RICHMOND - Mike McKenzie is well aware of the tall task that awaits Friday night.

McKenzie and his Edison coaching staff have been working feverishly this week trying to devise a plan to do something no one else has been able to do this season - slow St. Clairsville.

''I don't know if anyone can do that,'' said McKenzie in reference to Friday night's Buckeye 8 tilt against the Red Devils.

''They're as complete an offense as I've seen since I've been here.

''They're extremely balanced offensively and they have a very big line. They have weapons everywhere.''

On paper, the matchup between unbeaten St. Clairsville (6-0) and Edison (1-5) looks pretty lopsided. But Red Devils coach Brett McLean is convinced anything can happen on any given night.

''The last time we went up there we lost in three overtimes,'' he said. ''So we're well aware of what we're getting into.''

That last time was 2010 when the Wildcats handed the Red Devils their first loss of the season with a 34-28 triumph.

While most observers don't think lightning can strike twice, McLean is prepared for anything.

''Mike does an excellent job of keeping you off-balance,'' he said. ''I haven't seen all of their games, but in the games we saw we were scratching our heads looking at their record. We are definitely going up there expecting a battle.''

Edison's lone victory was against winless Weir. But the Wildcats have certainly been competitive.

They lost by one on the road to Union Local before falling by four to Buckeye Local the next week. Last Friday, Edison dropped a hard-fought, 35-21 verdict to once-beaten Harrison Central.

''We haven't been able to put those four quarters together,'' Mc-Kenzie said. ''We tend to have those 12 minutes in the game where we let things snowball.''

McLean sees talent in Edison's lineup.

''I see a lot of good players when I look at them,'' he said. ''They are very large and the spread you out. They have plenty of talented runners and throwers.''

Ever since pulling away in the second half for a season-opening victory at Wheeling Park, the Red Devils have been on cruise control.

St. Clairsville has scored at least 42 points in every game since en route to earning the top spot in the Ohio Division IV, Region 15 computer points.

Simply put, McLean's team hasn't surprised anyone. With the wealth of talent that returned after last fall's successful campaign, expectations were high heading into this season.

It can be hard to maintain those expectations. But McLean said his players are simply taking things day-by-day.

''They're staying pretty level-headed,'' he said. ''They've been in this situation before and they know you have stay on your toes and that everyone is gunning for you.

''We are in a good place, but by no means are where we want to be.''

Another home playoff game seems like a mere formality for the Red Devils, who still must square off against Martins Ferry in two weeks.

"No one is selfish," McLean said. "They all understand we have goals and they are all sacrificing their own personal success for the team."

Everyone is well aware of St. Clairsville's offensive talent. But the Red Decuils are staunch defensively, allowing an average of 15.5 points per game.

''The unit's been under the radar a bit,'' McLean said, noting the group has seen plenty of time on the field due to the team's quick-strike offense.

Jerrid Marhefka, Titus Lepic and Tanner Nemeti all picked up interceptions last week.

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