STEUBENVILLE - Steubenville needed 17 seconds to put Detroit Central Collegiate away Thursday night at Harding Stadium.
Senior Garon Lytle initially muffed the opening kickoff before picking up the ball and racing 90 yards for the initial touchdown of the 2013 season. His sprint (huge blocks by Perrier Coleman and Johnnie Blue helped spring Lytle) got the Red rolling en route to a 48-6 victory.
Big Red scored on the ground, through the air and via a fumble recovery in winning its 12th consecutive opener. Veteran coach Reno Saccoccia is 28-3 in seasonal debuts.
"It was beautiful," Saccoccia said of Lytle's run. "We've never started a year like that before. It couldn't have happened to a better kid. He had a great offseason and really got us started. He's a confident player and I look for him to really help us down the road.''
Lytle's kick return definitely played a major role in the victory. However, according to Saccoccia, so did the strong support of the community.
"We really appreciate the support our fans gave us," he said. "We need them to play a major role in our entire season."
Saccoccia's new-look 3-4 defense held the Trailblazers, who represent the oldest high school in Detroit, to a three-and-out on their first possession. Big Red needed three snaps to find the end zone.
On second-and-10 from the Central 42, senior tailback Robert Hayden bounced off a would-be tackler, got to the corner and raced 34 yards. Hayden turned his next touch into six points, rumbling to paydirt from 8 yards out.
Sophomore Niko Petrides picked off an Emanuel Dawson pass on Central's next offensive opportunity, giving Big Red a first down at the Trailblazers 47. Petrides then showed his skills as a receiver, going high in the air to pull down a Dimitri Collaros (Big Red's starting sophomore quarterback) toss for a 25-yard gain.
Lytle capped the eight-play scoring march when he went in from the 5.
Big Red's next six-point drive took one play as sophomore quarterback Mandela Lawrence-Burke found an open Lucas Herrington in the flat. The junior receiver then squared up, threw in a nifty spin move and raced untouched to the end zone. The pass and catch covered 82 yards.
Senior linebacker Kai McClurg was next to reach the house, picking up a Dawson fumble and traveling 52 yards, giving Big Red a 35-0 lead.
Lawrence-Burke showed off his running ability on Big Red's next offensive series as he scrambled for 31 yards on the first play and for 24 three snaps later. McClurg plowed in from a yard out to make it 41-0 with more than six minutes left in the opening half.
Central's only score of the evening came just before intermission as the Trailblazers marched 67 yards against Big Red's non-starters. Montell Smith did the honors from 2 yards away.
In the first half, Big Red ran just 17 plays from scrimmage, gaining 249 yards (140 on the ground and 109 via the air).
Dondre Brown recorded the only score of the second half, which featured a running clock, when he delivered what might have been the play of the game. The junior took a Shyonne Petteway handoff, broke to the outside then hurdled over a Central defender en route to his 18-yard touchdown. His run brought what was left of the large crowd to its feet.
"Everyone played and I'm happy about that," Saccoccia added. "We had a great summer and the kids all worked extremely hard. I'm glad everything went the way it did. Everyone got in and was able to get a little taste of what it's going to be like down the road."
Dondre Brown paced the Big Red ground attack with 56 yards on three totes. Lawrence-Burke added 55 on his two carries and Hayden 42. Collaros was 2 of 3 for 27 and Lawrence-Burke's only toss went for the 82-yard score.
"I was happy with the performance of both quarterbacks," Saccoccia said. "Right now, Collaros is healthy and has done a very good job. Lawrence-Burke is getting there. He hasn't been healthy but he looked very good when he ran. When we get him healthy, we'll be solid at that position."