Monarchs, Big Reds Put Perfect Records on Line
BELLAIRE — Nelson Field should be rocking Saturday afternoon as two of the OVAC’s 11 unbeatens — Bellaire and John Marshall — meet in a matinee showdown.
Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m.
The Monarchs are off to one of their best starts in years under first-year head coach Jason Willis. First in the initial WVSSAC Class AAA ratings, John Marshall has provenits worth with victories against University, Mountain Ridge (Md.) and Preston.
“We’re physical and we’re not a real flashy bunch of guys,” Willis, the former JM quarterback and longtime Monarchs assistant, said.
“We’ll run right at you. Our backs are hitting holes and Jordan Wood does a good job of managing the game at quarterback and hitting guys off play-action when we need to. That’s what we do. We can’t complain so far.”
Mark Spigarelli has no qualms, either, about his Big Reds. After impressive victories against River and Shenandoah, Bellaire overcame a bevy of turnovers last week to edge Harrison Central in its initial Buckeye 8 test on a muddy track.
“I wasn’t happy with four turnovers,” he said, “but I was really happy that we didn’t down on each other, we didn’t point fingers. We just took it in stride.”
Like they’d done in the first two games, the Big Reds tried to balance the run and pass. But with the weather being what it was — a constant rain — Spigarelli had to rely more on the ground game.
Bellaire produced 256 yards rushing, led by Trace Sechrest’s season-high 181. Cole Porter followed with 77.
“We were able to run the ball, still,” Spigarelli said. “Bobby (Roth, Bellaire quarterback) had a hard time holding it. At times, we didn’t block really well, but we went over that in our film sessions this week.”
While Bellaire wasn’t able to go the pass as much as it would’ve liked, Willis knows to be aware of it this week.
“They’re definitely balanced,” he said. “They do run the ball a bit better than they have in the past. They’re physical and then get to the ball on defense. It will be a tough matchup for us”
Porter, Sechrest, A.J. McCarthy, Trenton Wilson and Shane Lekanudos are names to watch at receiver for Bellaire.
“They look a lot like us,” Willis said. “They line up in the I and they run the ball at you a lot. They’ll play-action you and they’re pretty good at it. They’re always tough. They have physical kids and they are always ready to play every time we go over there.”
The Monarchs topped Preston, 47-14, last week in Moundsville powered by a rushing attack that churned out 318 yards and five touchdowns.
“They’re big and strong up front and have a quarterback who’s been there a few years as a starter,” Spigarelli said. “They give different guys the ball.”
That’s true. Against Preston, JM had 11 ballcarriers led by Alex Burton (nine carries, 72 yards) and Justin Frohnapfel (five carries, 58 yards, TD).
“We’ll just have to know our assignments, get our techniques down and tackle really well,” Spigarelli said.
“I think we’re up for the challenge and I think the kids are looking forward to this matchup. Both teams are 3-0 and it should be a really good game.”