John Marshall Looks to Rebound, Halt Bellaire’s Momentum

Photo Provided Bellaire’s Thor Duffy has been tough to bring down all season

MOUNDSVILLE — Friday night’s battle between Bellaire and John Marshall at Monarch Field will pit one team trying to continue to gain momentum going forward in the season and the other trying to grab it and turn things around.

Coach Mark Spigarelli’s Big Reds (2-1) have won two games in a row after a heartbreaking season-opening loss at River. Last week Bellaire jumped all over Harrison Central early and cruised to a 38-7 victory on the road.

“The kids are playing real well right now,” Spigarelli said. “And I was so impressed with the fact that we did not fumble at all or have a penalty called on us last week.

“That is something that we harped on going into the game, and I was very pleased with the result. Our offense line has also come together better, and sooner, than I expected and the defense is swarming and playing more physical up front since the River game.”

Meanwhile, Coach Rick Goodrich’s Monarchs (1-2) played unbeaten Weir tough, eventually falling to the Red Riders, 29-26, on a fourth-quarter touchdown run. Friday night will also be John Marshall’s home-opener.

“We had some opportunities against Weir, but give them credit, they took advantage of our mistakes and it helped lead to four touchdowns,” Goodrich said. “But we have to bounce back this week and respond to the adversity. This is a big game for us, we will see how the kids react.

“But we have to quit hurting ourselves with penalties. We have been our own worst enemies. We have been over 100 penalty yards each of the last two weeks and we have to clean up our acts there.”

Monarchs senior Dereck Hess has turned into one of the finest running backs in the valley. Through three games, Hess has 71 carries for 408 yards and five touchdowns, four of those coming in a victory over Mountain Ridge, Md. Classmate Chas McCool is coming off a game in which he caught three passes for 53 yards and three rushes for 42 and a score.

Junior quarterback Jordan Wood has hit 28 of 52 passes for 370 yards a touchdown and two interceptions.

“They are a much improved football team and much better than their record indicates,” Spigarelli said. “They have a tailback (Hess) that does a tremendous job of running north and south and an improved offensive line that is big and strong.

“Really, they are just a typical Goody (Goodrich) offense and you have to prepare to shut down the run first but not forget about their athletic receivers. They are also a little different on defense which means we have to prepare and scheme different than we did last year.”

The Big Reds offense begins with senior quarterback Mason Ramsey, who is coming off another big outing last week against the Huskies. Ramsey was 8 of 11 through the air for 160 yards and three touchdowns while picking up 20 yards and scoring two more on the ground.

Senior Thor Duffy had 21 totes for 109 on the ground a week ago with sophomore Cole Porter adding 80 on 14 tries. Duffy, Gabe Rejonis and freshman Payton Marling combined for all eight of Ramsey’s completions with each adding a touchdown grab.

“The thing I notice most about them is that they are a young group that has gotten better each week,” Goodrich said. “Their offensive line does a nice job and their backs do a great job finding the holes.

“I have seen a major improvement from them since Week 1. Coach Spigarelli does a nice job over there. They are a scrappy team that always gives you a tough fight and we will need to be ready for 48 minutes Friday night.”

Bellaire broke a two-game losing streak to the Monarchs last year with a 20-0 blanking. However, since 2003, the Big Reds are 11-3 against their cross-river rivals with the winning team scoring 30 or more points in 12 of 14 of those contests.