Lot on the Line When St. Clairsville, Union Local Meet
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — You name it and it’s on the line Friday night at Red Devil Stadium.
Mega playoff points? Yep!
Buckeye 8 South championship? Yes, sir!
Crucial OVAC championship race points? Absolutely!
But, whenever St. Clairsville and Union Local get together, the bragging rights between the boarding school districts might be more important than any of the extraneous factors.
“The kids are excited,” St. Clairsville coach Brett McLean said. “When you start the season, you hope to be playing in games with plenty of meaning (in October), so we couldn’t ask for more.”
The Red Devils come in as winners of their last six after opening the season with a tough loss at Carrollton. Union Local, meanwhile, reeled off six straight wins to open the season before falling flat at Meadowbrook, 34-12, last week.
“We are totally focused on this game this week,” Union Local coach Bruce Stiles said. “We were disappointed in our performance (at Meadowbrook), so we have to get back to work and try to put a better caliber of football on the field this week.”
Everything will come to a head, starting at 7:30 p.m.
St. Clairsville, which is coming off an impressive win at Bellaire last Saturday, had a short week of preparation, but the level at which the Red Devils have played of late is something that McLean hopes to continue, so getting back on the field as soon as possible isn’t a bad thing.
A victory over the Jets would give St. Clairsville the outright Buckeye 8 South title, but a Jets win would mean they would need to beat Bellaire in Week 9 to title or it would be a become a three-way tie. As it pertains to the postseason, St. C. is currently sitting atop of the Division IV, Region 15 rankings, while the Jets, who lead the OVAC Class 3A race, are fourth in Division IV, Region 19.
If all that isn’t enough, Stiles was a long-time member of McLean’s coaching staff before accepting the Jets post. He still teaches at St. Clairsville High School.
“It’s one of those things where we both hate that we have to play each other, but we make it as normal of a week as we can make it,” McLean said. “We might share some ideas and philosophies during other weeks of the season, but there won’t be any sharing this week. Actually, we’ll probably stay at opposite ends of the school from each other.”
“I usually stop down (to his classroom) once a week or so and we talk, but we treat it as just two guys talking football,” Stiles said. “We know each other well enough that we kind of know what we’re going to do.”
St. Clairsville’s going to attempt to establish what’s turned into a vaunted running game against a stiff Jets’ defense.
The Red Devils have accumulated 1,901 yards and scored 21 touchdowns thus far on the ground.
“They’ve formed an offensive identity and that’s running the football,” Stiles said. “They line up and just try to pound it at you. They have a number of kids who can hurt you, too. They’re adequate at throwing the ball, but they’re hanging their hat on their running game.”
The bulk of the work has gone to talented junior Brady Kolb. He’s rushed for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns on 164 carries. He’s averaging more than six yards per carry.
Other running back options have included juniors Kyle Storer (55-324-2td) and Justin Heatherington (14-250-2td).
Quarterback Dustin Carrothers has been efficient in his first season under center. He’s completed 35 of 76 passes for 793 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Junior Craig Bober and Heatherington are the Devils’ top receivers.
Junior Braden Lucas is the Jets’ most explosive offensive weapon. He’s scored 15 touchdowns rushing and has 579 yards. He’s complemented by Ben Howell, who has 8 touchdowns and 515 yards.
Cal Kildow is at the controls of the Jets. He’s completed 49 of 81 passes for 632 yards and four touchdowns.
Lucas is the leading receiver with 21 receptions for 261 yards and four more touchdowns.