SPARKY To Stay In Ferry
MARTINS FERRY — There have been plenty of classic matchups over the course of the 115 meetings between Martins Ferry and Bellaire.
Friday night’s season finale, however, will not fall into that category.
The Purple Riders scored three first-quarter touchdowns and never looked back en route to a dominating 47-8 victory against the Big Reds at a chilly Dave Bruney Football Complex.
The win not only sends out the Purple Riders senior class out on a high note, but it also means SPARKY resides in the Martins Ferry High School trophy case for the fourth straight year.
“This was the first game that I honestly got to take a step back and enjoy,” a relieved Ferry coach Chas Yoder said. “The goal at the beginning of the season was to get in as many games as we possibly could. In a normal year, you’re guaranteed 10, but this year was a lot different. It’s been a tough year on these kids, but (winning) in this rivalry is something words can’t explain.”
The Purple Riders finish the season at 5-5, while the Big Reds closed at 5-4 after winning their first four to open the season.
The last two losses will certainly sting for Bellaire.
It fell by a combined 107-8 score in those games.
“Obviously, this is not the ending of this crazy season that we wanted or envisioned,” Bellaire coach Mark Spigarelli said. “We won a playoff game, but we lost some kids to injuries, which are part of the game and we ended up playing with mostly a jayvee team out there most of (Friday), but those kids never quit and kept fighting the whole time, so I am very proud of them for that.”
The Purple Riders actually got things going quickly thanks to the work of their defense. Trevor Hanson stepped in front of a Jake Heatherington pass and raced it back the other way for an 86-yard interception return.
And the floodgates were open.
Heatherington was picked off again on the next Bellaire possession and five plays later, rugged senior back Evan Carpenter waltzed into the end zone from 7 yards out. Quarterback Logan Smith took the 2-point conversion in and it was 14-0.
Smith found the end zone himself to close the first-quarter scoring on a 6-yard run. Senior Chase Goff, who added a 1-yard touchdown later and finished with 100 yards on 14 carries, booted the first of three PAT kicks.
For just the third time all season, Smith threw a touchdown pass. He found Cole Sztary who hauled in a 22-yarder after a Bellaire defensive back fell to the turf.
Smith capped the first half scoring with another 6 yard burst.
Bellaire avoided the shutout when speedy sophomore Ray Ray Pettigrew scored on a 29-yard run. Joey Lewis ran for the 2-point conversion.
Ferry’s George Hulsey capped the scoring on a 25-yard run.
Yoder was pleased with the all-around effort, but most excited for his senior class, which finished 4-1 against its arch rival.
“I can’t say enough about these seniors,” Yoder said. “We have five guys who grew up here. We got a couple from up the road at Buckeye Local, one transferred from Linsly and another one who lives in West Virginia, but his dad is a lifer. They’re what Ferry is all about. There are no selfish players in that senior class. When we had all of that uncertainty, before the season, these kids were all bought in and just wanted to play. It took something (like a pandemic) to make us realize that we might not always have the sport we love.”
All told, the Purple Riders finished with 458 yards of total offense. Smith was 7-of-9 passing for 158 yards and a touchdown.
“Even though it didn’t look like it on the scoreboard, I saw a lot of good things out there,” Spigarelli said. “We need to get back in the weightroom to get bigger and stronger. We need to get faster. I think there’s something special going on at Bellaire, and I am excited about it. Hats off to Martins Ferry because it’s been a crazy year for everyone. They did a good job.”
Bellaire’s Ethan Shaver and Ferry’s Smith were named the recipients of the Sportsmanship Award.
The series between the two schools is now knotted at 57 wins apiece. There have been seven ties.
The 39-point margin of defeat is the largest in the series since the Big Reds won 58-0 in 1966.
Martins Ferry 47, Bellaire 8
Bellaire 0 0 0 8 — 8
Martins Ferry 21 14 6 6 — 47
MF — Hanson 86 interception return (kick failed).
MF — Carpenter 7 run (Smith run).
MF — Smith 6 run (Goff kick).
MF — Sztary 22 pass from Smith (Goff kick).
MF — Smith 6 run (Goff kick).
MF — Goff 1 run (kick failed).
B — Pettigrew 29 run (Lewis run).
MF — Hulsey 25 run (kick failed).
Rushing: Bellaire, 17-83-td (R. Pettigrew, 4-44-td; Heatherington, 3-3; Lewis, 6-39; M. Pettigrew, 3-(-6); LaMotte, 1-3). Martins Ferry, 51-300-5td (Goff, 14-100-td; Carpenter, 6-44-td; Smith, 9-25-2td; Hanson, 2-12; Hulsey, 8-38-td; Carte, 3-24; Weir, 4-42; Archer, 3-20; Lacey, 1-2; Team, 1-(-7)).
Passing: Bellaire, 12-23-102-2x (All by Heatherington). Martins Ferry, 7-11-158-td (Smith, 7-9-158-td; Weir, 0-2).
Receiving: Bellaire, 12-102 (Pettigrew, 4-29; Littell, 2-11; Kesterson, 3-41; Dowling, 1-5; Gallaher, 2-16). Martins Ferry, 7-158-td (Bennett, 2-8; Sztary, 1-22-td; Goff, 1-21; Hulsey, 1-32; Carpenter, 2-75).
First Downs: Bellaire, 10; Martins Ferry, 20.
Fumbles: Bellaire, 3-1; Martins Ferry, 2-1.
Penalties: Bellaire, 6-40; Martins Ferry, 7-70.