WINTERSVILLE - Beallsville's Paul Kanzigg knew Madonna was a good football team.
After a 63-8 shellacking at the hands of the Blue Dons during the nightcap of the McDonalds OVAC Kickoff Night Thursday night at Kettlewell Memorial Stadium, only one thing changed.
"That was an excellent football team we just played," Kanzigg said. "They are really good in every aspect of the game. We thought maybe our line could play with them a little bit, but they're a dominant team."
Beallsville’s Kris Palmer (23) runs the ball with Madonna’s Shain Livada (55) in pursuit.
Madonna, which finished as runnerup in last season's West Virginia Super Six Class A championship game at Wheeling Island Stadium, found the end zone on eight of its nine possessions and ran a punt back for six points.
"I told the kids after the game to keep their heads up because we won't face another team on our schedule as tough as Madonna," Kanzigg said. "Nobody.
"I wish them the best of luck the remainder of the season."
Senior tailback Eliott Nero, who accounted for four touchdowns in a three different ways, got the action going when he scampered 10 yards around left end for a 6-0 score on the second play of the game. All-everything quarterback Ross Comis, who hit Marcello Biondillo on a 50-yard pickup on the initial snap, ran in for the 2-point conversion.
After the Blue Dons defense held the Blue Devils to nothing on three plays, Nero fielded a punt at his 38 and headed down the sideline. He followed his blocking to the Beallsville 20 before making an outstanding cutback that left a handful of would-be tacklers standing empty-handed. Finding himself in trouble again inside the 10, he again juked a couple of defenders before finding his way to paydirt.
Matthew Green's PAT made it 15-0 with 9:14 on the clock.
Biondillo picked off a Chase Mercer pass on the Blue Devils' next series, but the Blue Dons gave the ball back several plays later when Bruce Sefert recovered a Comis fumble.
Beallsville couldn't put any offense together as it mustered 15 yards and zero first downs in the first 24 minutes while Madonna bolted to a 37-0 margin.
It didn't get much better in the third quarter as the Blue Dons scored on their first play from scrimmage. Comis tossed a swing pass to Nero in the right flat and the 5-foot-10, 205-pounder did the rest, outrunning everyone to the end zone for a 59-yard strike.
Comis added a 33-yard jaunt before backup tailback Levi Shreve ran in from 23 yards out early in the fourth quarter. Joey Ewusiak's 2-point run made it 57-0.
Beallsville avoided being shut out as Mercer hooked up with junior Robert Valentine on a perfectly executed fly pattern down the sideline. Mercer lofted the ball high in the air and Valentine ran under it at the 30 before leaving a defender in his dust, completing a 60-yard strike with 6:35 left to play. Mercer then found Levi Phillips for a 2-point conversion.
Madonna concluded the scoring when Joey Ewusiak ran in from 11 yards out.
The Blue Dons piled up 477 yards of total offense to 172 for the Blue Devils. However, most of Beallsville's yards came against the second- and third-teamers of Madonna.
One bright spot for Kanzigg's squad was the running of freshman Joey Cunningham. The 5-8, 160-pounder ran 11 times for 73 yards.
"Joey ran hard," Kanzigg said. "He showed a lot of promise. He's a hard runner."
Behind Cunningham's effort, the Blue Devils rushed for exactly 100 yards, while Mercer was 6-for-15 for 72 yards and the TD. He did throw two picks.
Joey Ewusiak led Madonna's rushing attack with 99 yards on nine carries, while Shreve added 93 and Nero finished with 37 on six carries. Comis chipped in 34 on seven carries and was a nifty 6 of 7 for 199 yards and a trio of touchdowns.
Nero caught two passes - both for scores - for 75 yards.