WEIRTON - Top-rated Madonna travels to Blacksburg to take on No. 9 Clay-Battelle Friday in a battle of unbeatens that will be the featured game in the state Class A ranks this weekend. Kickoff in the Cee-Bees' new stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The two teams have played the season finale for several years and the two programs seem to always make this a meaningful,
Madonna coach Doug Taylor said he has been telling his charges this week that anything less than their best performance could be disastrous.
"Clay-Battelle has been a good team over the years and they are deserving of a new place to play," Taylor said. "If they win Friday, it would guarantee them a home game in their new house, and I'm sure they want to show that off. Also, it will be senior night and they are playing the No. 1 team. Those all are strong incentives that we have to overcome."
Taylor characterized this year's Clay-Battelle team as "typical."
"They have great size like they almost always do," he said. "But they also are a veteran team with some good skill players."
Last year the Cee-Bees team bus arrived late at Jimmy Carey Stadium and they were rushed with pregame warmups. Madonna won the game handily by 40-2.
"I don't expect anything like that score this year," Taylor explained. "I think we caught them a little off guard last year, but this year they have a lot more experienced players and they are a very good team."
The size that Taylor is concerned about comes from seniors Dustin Varner (6-foot-5, 330 pounds) and Hunter Six (6-0, 305).
"They put those two guys in the middle on defense and dare you to run," Taylor said.
Senior Tristan Haught (6-2, 170) returns at quarterback and the Cee-Bees run the football with senior Trenten Dillie (5-9, 160) and junior Jacoby Steele (6-0, 215)."
Taylor, who has scouted Clay-Battelle twice, said he is impressed with sophomore Jarret Hockenberry (6-4, 200), a transfer student from University High.
"He plays a lot of wide receiver, but they also move him around and he'll show up running the football," Taylor said.
Madonna senior quarterback Ross Comis was limited last week against Toronto because of a bruised shoulder. He has 1,000 rushing yards this season, but carried the ball four times against Toronto and netted out at zero yardage.
However, he completed 17 of 23 for a season high 226 yards and two touchdowns. Comis has 1,123 yards through the air.
The other half of Madonna's dynamic duo, Eliott Nero, also had a subpar game against Toronto, at least compared to other recent games. Nero, who averages more than 8 yards each time he touches the football, was held to 72 yards on 18 carries. He did score three times. He has 1,183 rushing yards. Comis and Nero have 21 and 17 touchdowns on the ground.