Steubenville Ready to Grind Out 2019 Season
STEUBENVILLE — The way Reno Saccoccia sees it, Steubenville’s 2019 football season will be all about the grind.
“We’ve had a good summer, but all you can grade your kids on right now is just what’s happened to date,” Saccoccia said Sunday during the 23rd annual Lew Giammarco Appreciation and Football Kickoff Dinner, sponsored by the Big Red Boosters Club. “So far, it’s been about physical fitness and mental attitude. We can grade them on their willingness to work and how hard they are willing to work.
“Once they put pads on, we’ll see if they are willing to grind. The harder they grind, the colder it will be when we are still playing. That’s the key word this year, grind.”
Coming off a 10-2 record (Steubenville fell to Hubbard in the Division IV, Region 13 semifinals), Saccoccia’s club will open on Aug. 28 when first-time opponent Pittsburgh Taylor Allderdice invades Harding Stadium. The Dragons, who have won back-to-back Pittsburgh City League championships, are one of four new foes Steubenville will face.
The others are Washington, D.C., Woodson, National Christian Academy (based in Fort Washington, Md.) and Buffalo St. Francis.
Steubenville, which will be seeking its 18th consecutive trip to the postseason, has three Ohio opponents this season in New Philadelphia, Dover and Columbus DeSales. The Quakers and Tornadoes were approved for OVAC membership several months ago. Thus, with those games and a Week 10 contest against Linsly, Steubenville will face three conference foes. The last time that happened was 2011.
After opening with Allderdice, Big Red will entertain Woodson, St. Francis, New Philadelphia and Pittsburgh USO, before traveling to Dover. N.C.A visits on Oct. 11. Canada Football North follows, before a trip to DeSales. The regular season ends with the home game against Linsly.
“I believe we were able to put together a really competitive schedule,” Saccoccia said. “This was a tough year for scheduling. I’m just really glad we were able to finish it and get eight home games. Going forward, we’re hoping to get more Ohio teams on the schedule.”
Big Red is moving back to Division III this season, and the Ohio High School Athletic Association assigned it to Region 9. The move, according to Saccoccia, really doesn’t mean much.
“It doesn’t matter who you play or what you play,” he said. “We’re just excited to get the season going. We’ll have the same goals we always do. We want to be the best team we can possibly be and play good enough during the regular season to earn a home playoff game. If that happens, we’ll reassert what we have done and set additional goals from there.”
Heading into camp, Saccoccia said Big Red’s roster has 68 players in grades 10-12. Another 30 or so are expected to compete at the freshman level.
“If our guys are willing to grind, this team has the chance to be as good as any we’ve had,” he said. “The difference between the great teams we’ve had and the good teams we’ve had centers around the willingness of our players to grind.”
Saccoccia then offered a few words to advice to those attending the event.
“If the guys grind during the preseason and the regular season, you’ll have to buy some more warm clothing, because we will still be playing when it’s cold out,” he said.
The Hall of Fame coach is entering his 37th season as Big Red’s grid boss.
“I still feel good. I’m excited and I’m ready to go,” he said. “Coaches have to grind just as hard at the players. Both groups have to get after it every minute we are on the field.”
During the event held Sunday inside the Crimson Commons, eight individuals were honored for giving their time and talent to support Steubenville’s football program.
Those recognized were Jennifer Agresta, Greg Agresta, Ray Agresta, Ted Gorman, Martin Hauser, Kim McCalla, April Minniefield and the late Dave Stacy.
Jim Davis, treasurer of the booster club, noted those honored were chosen from a lengthy list of “many deserving people who work for and support the club and the Big Red football program.”
∫ The booster club now has honored 114 individuals for their support of the football program since the banquet began in 1997.
∫ Cheering advisor Stephanie Wineman introduced her senior cheerleaders. They are Mia Pierro, the squad captain, Jazzmin Jett, Myla Gulan, Golden Dawson, Madison Palma and Dalan Livingston, the mascot.
∫ The team’s first scrimmage will be at 10 a.m. on Aug. 17 against Upper St. Clair. The preview is set for 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 21 against Youngstown Chaney. Both events are scheduled at Harding Stadium.