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Football Lookahead: Seminoles Set or Centerburg

November 7, 2013
By RICK THORP , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Monroe Central coach Jay Circosta made the trip northwest earlier this week to Centerburg to get a feel of what the trip would be like for his team for its first-round playoff game Friday night.

While he said it was a long trip, in many ways, it didn't feel that long. Kind of like his team's season.

After an 0-2 start, Monroe Central did something the veteran coach said is sometimes hard to do in its region - make the postseason with a 7-3 record.

After winning seven of its final eight games, the Seminoles are in the playoffs for the eighth time.

''Any time you start 0-2, you want to test and challenge your kids to see what kind of character you have on your team,'' Circosta said.

The Seminoles passed the test with flying colors and will head to Centerburg - the geographic center of the state of Ohio - for one of four Division VI, Region 21 quarterfinals Friday night.

The contest pitting the No. 3 seed Trojans and No. 6 seed Seminoles kicks off at 7:30 p.m.

''A lot of teams might had folded after an 0-2 start, but our kids didn't do that,'' he said. ''We came right back and got a win.''

And another. And another.

The Seminoles nearly ran the table. Only a 32-8 at Magnolia prevented Monroe Central from winning out.

They've got a formidable foe in Week 11.

A member of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference after many seasons in the Mid-Buckeye Conference, the Trojans produced a 10-0 season for the first time since 1976.

This is Centerburg's first playoff appearance since 2005. The Trojans are 4-2 in the postseason.

''In some ways, they look a lot like Bellaire,'' Circosta said. ''Now, we didn't play Bellaire this year, but they have good wideouts and an excellent quarterback and their running backs are very capable.

''They're a very good football team.''

While the Trojans might not have a deep postseason tradition, their coach - Jim Stoyle - is certainly battle tested.

Stoyle, in his fourth year at the Knox County school, is a former assistant at Columbus DeSales and Highland. He was part of the DeSales staff that reached the 2005 state title game.

''I learned a lot being around Bob Jacoby at DeSales,'' Stoyle, also the athletic director at Centerburg, said. ''During the course of 23 years of coaching, I've tried to listen to each coach and see what works and what doesn't.''

Circosta is one coach he has plenty of respect for.

''He does a great job,'' Stoyle said. ''You can tell (Monroe Central) plays hard and are fundamentally sound. They have some good athletes.

''I've been very impressed with their quarterback and extremely impressed with their running back. He's small, but you can't that size fool you.''

The move of Curtis Nixon to quarterback in Week 3 spurred the Seminoles turnaround. The senior has thrown for 1,263 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 869 yards and 14 more scores.

Levi Brown, Monroe Central's junior running back, has carried the ball 137 times for 911 yards and 17 TDs. He has 13 catches for 227 yards.

Other offensive weapons for the Seminoles include tight end Gavin Morton, fullback Mike Jones and wideouts Bryan Duffy, Jake Schuerman and Jarrett Hooper.

Monroe Central's line consists of Colton Robinson at center, Tanner Potts and Cordell Gauding at tackles and Marshall Mozena and Justin Kilburn at guards.

''We'll have to play good, sound defense against them,'' Stoyle said. ''And defensively, they like to get after you and bring pressure. I think they are a little bit bigger than us. Overall, I think they two schools are very comparable.''

The Seminoles' defensive front consists of Hunter Conner at middle guard, Mozena and Potts at the tackles and Gauding and Morton at the ends. Jones is the middle linebacker, while Schuerman and Chase Carothers are the outside backer. Nixon and Brown or the corners and Duffy is the safety.

Centerburg's offense is orchestrated by senior quarterback Tyler Stoyle, son of the coach. He's thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns. For his career, he has more than 5,000 yards passing.

''The key to their team is there quarterback,'' Circosta said. ''He throws the ball extremely well. He's a student of the game and manages the game really well.''

The Trojans are quite balanced offensively - evenly dividing 4,000 yards between the run and pass - and play mostly seniors and juniors.

Leading the way on the ground is senior Austin Glasscock and his nearly 1,100 yards.

''He's not a really big kid, but he's a nice runner so we won't be able to just stop the pass,'' Circosta said.

Juniors Jake Stewart and Jeremy Sesma are Centerburg's top receiving threats.

Defensively, the Trojans play a 4-4. The unit as top-ranked in its conference.

Like the Seminoles, the Trojans can score. Centerburg scored 65 against Mount Gilead and 55 twice. The first time it was in a 55-54 overtime victory against rival Danville.

''That win kind of gave our kids a lot of confidence that we can be pretty good,'' Stoyle said. ''From there, we continued to get better as the season rolled along.''

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