St.C.’s McLean Is Coach of the Year
Red Devils reached regional title
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Just a few months ago, it was unknown that a high school football season was going to take place. With the proper precautions and protocols taken, Ohio was able to have a full season, with some minor changes. With a six-game regular season, the playoffs would then begin. It, as a matter of fact, turned out to be a successful stint for what the country was dealing with. And with that, many local Ohio teams put together not only nice seasons, but generate a playoff run. St. Clairsville was one of those teams. After going unbeaten during the regular season, the Red Devils clinched the No. 1 seed in the Division IV, Region 15 bracket.
Along with claiming the OVAC Class 4A title, St. Clairsville made it to the regional championship game where it fell to Bloom-Carroll to end its season. At the head of the success comes veteran coach Brett McLean, who has been chosen for the 2020 Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register Coach of the Year.
“I’m as flattered as I’ve ever been,” McLean, who has won the Coach of the Year Award for the fifth time, said. “It’s a prestigious thing. I’ve grown up in this Valley and picked up that newspaper on Christmas morning many times and seeing coaches I hoped to be half as good as. This year was such a crazy season and a crazy year. We were really fortunate to have such a great group of coaches and players this year. With every hurdle, every team faced and we weren’t the only ones, our kids faced them head on and we fought through a very competitive regular season. We played a list of quarterbacks this year, honest to God, I don’t recall playing so many highly rated quarterbacks and guys are getting decorated in postseason awards. That was a challenge, and to get in the playoff system this year where we played four playoff games and extending our season to 10 games, it was just an emotional ride that we aren’t ever going to forget. We enjoyed the heck out of it and considering the circumstances, it was a pleasure to go everyday and coach with my kids, team and assistant coaches.”
The Red Devils, like every other team faced obstacles months before the season started. With no weight room, not as many practices, the Red Devils came into the 2020 season with questions. McLean and his staff, though, made sure their team was going to be prepared every time they stepped foot on the field.
“I think we had to have was patience,” McLean said. “I say that because it wasn’t normal. We didn’t have as many practices. We didn’t have as many get-togethers and the practices we did have were shortened. We didn’t have as many scrimmages and we didn’t have any passing scrimmages. So many things normal about the regular season were just not there this year. I think that’s where our coaching staff and kids did the most outstanding job is the time spend together was very, very efficient and it was well-thought out. It helped us be prepared even under a shorted preseason and a shortened offseason.
“This thing hitting back in March. We lost the weight room for three months, basically. We were doing online training with the kids and virtual meetings and virtual workouts. That’s how we got prepared for our season.”
The Red Devils faced a significantly tough schedule. And with that came some adversity that the Red Devils faced almost on a weekly basis. So much, in fact that it almost became a theme. That theme was always playing from behind in the early going.
In their home opener against Oak Hill, the Red Devils gave up a first quarter touchdown. St. Clairsville was also down 14-0 against Wheeling Park at one point, but came back and gave the Patriots their only loss of the season. Another instance was in the regular season finale against Harrison Central, the Red Devils were down 12-0.
“It was a habit that made my hair turn gray. I think there was one game out of the 10 we weren’t trailing at some point in the game,” McLean said. “I think it was the type of leadership we had and more mature kids on our team. They didn’t panic and they were really confident. Sometimes too confident to the point where we spotted the other team some points. Then, we got our motor running. We just alluded this at our banquet. There was never a panic, it just felt like we’re going to get this going and the kids made it happen. Someone sparked us and all of a sudden, things would start to click. Our kids showed a ton of character in games. We were outgunned at times. We won some games late because of our conditioning. We won some games by the skin of our teeth and we won some games running away. It was a very challenging year. We looked back at the record of our opponents and they were all successful. It would have been a year where we played 10 games, six wins would have punched a playoff ticket for us because they were all on that track.”
However, no comeback victory in 2020 was more impressive for St. Clairsville then the Division IV Regional semifinal matchup against Meadowbrook. The Colts burst out to a 28-0 lead midway through the first half.
“We were very frustrated. We turned the ball over a few times which they (Meadowbrook) were a very potent, high-powered offense,” McLean said about the game. “We knew we weren’t going to hold them scoreless and low and behold we turned the ball over twice on a short field. It just snowballed quickly. It had that feeling it could be the end of the year. I don’t know how we were going to slow them down and score more points.”
However, the Red Devils didn’t blink and were able to trim th deficit in half going into halftime as the score read 28-14. With all the momentum on their side, the Red Devils scored 42 straight points to stun the Colts, 42-28 to advance to the regional final.
“When we scored with about 12 seconds in the half to make it 28-14, we knew we were getting the ball and we had the momentum. You could just sense it in the locker room,” McLean said. “They were going to burst on the field in the second half and if we could get that next score, then, we’d have a ball game. And then it just snowballed in the other direction for us, thankfully. We got the momentum. We did go score and our defense then pinned their ears back. It was a crazy experience. I have not been part of a comeback victory like that. It’s one of the best games I’ve been a part of in my life.”
Although St. Clairsville fell a couple game shorts of a state championship, it was a season to remember. With every day and every game always being up in their air, McLean and Company did their part to ensure they were able to step out on the turf field and play underneath the lights. That is a victory in it of itself. Also, with the success of the team, many individual accolades were given out including First Team All-Ohio honors to Colin Oberdick and Reese Skaggs. Drew Sefsick also earned Third Team All-Ohio.
There is one thing, though, the selfless McLean could give out.
“The kids deserve all the accolades they get and it’s a shame that there’s not more assistant coach awards,” McLean said. “I have been spoiled to death with a great group of guys and they work timeless hours helping our football program, our kids and the all-starts of what we achieve. I know that for a fact and I appreciate the heck out of them. All the honors are awesome. If I’m going to do anything, I’m going to dedicate any coaching award that I get to my staff and those guys.”
Wheeling Park’s Chris Daugherty, Oak Glen’s Ted Arneault Jr. and Shadyside’s Mark Holenka were also considered for the Coach of the Year Award.
THE INTELLIGENCER/NEWS-REGISTER COACH OF THE YEAR WINNERS
2020 — Brett McLean, St. Clairsville
2019 — Ted Arneault, Oak Glen
2018 — Brett McLean, St. Clairsville
2017 — Mike Young, Wheeling Central
2016 — Scott Holt, Cameron
2015 — Mac McLean, Brooke
2014 — John Durdines, Bishop Donahue
2013 — Doug Taylor, Madonna
2012 — Brett McLean, St. Clairsville
2011 — Brett McLean, St. Clairsville
2010 — Mark Holenka, Shadyside
2009 — Tom Bruney, Brooke
2008 — Mike Flannery, River
2007 — Brett McLean, St. Clairsville
2006 — John Magistro, Bellaire
2005 — Reno Saccoccia, Steubenville
2004 — Bob Kramer, Weirton Madonna
2003 — Reno Saccoccia, Steubenville
2002 — Jay Circosta, Monroe Central
2001 — Ty Fleming, Shadyside
2000 — Ty Fleming, Shadyside
1999 — Alan Treherne, Barnesville
1998 — Wayne Neely, Weir
1997 — John Magistro, Bellaire
1996 — John Magistro, Bellaire
1995 — John Magistro, Bellaire
1994 — Bob Thayer, Wellsville
1993 — P.K. Poling, Oak Glen
1992 — Dave Kovalick, Barnesville
1991 — Gregg Bahen, Steubenville Central
1990 — Paul Billiard, Brooke
1989 — Ty Fleming, Shadyside
1988 — Dave Cisar, Magnolia
1987 — Jim Paul, Weirton Madonna
1986 — Rich Weiskircher, Buckeye North
1985 — Rich Weiskircher, Buckeye North
1984 — Reno Saccoccia, Steubenville
1983 — Dan McGrew, Weir
1982 — Mike Herrick, Mingo
1981 — Dave Cisar, Magnolia
1980 — Bill McHugh, Buckeye South
1979 — Jim Thomas, Wheeling Central
1978 — Lou Nocida, Sistersville
1977 — Sonny Rea, Brooke
1976 — Jay Circosta, Woodsfield
1975 — Ron Pobolish, Cadiz
1974 — Rich Wilinski, Toronto
1973 — Lou Nocida, Magnolia
1972 — Marty Flannery, River
1971 — Tom Korab, Steubenville Central
1970 — Joe Ault, Bridgeport
1969 — George Strager, St. Clairsville
1968 — Jake Olsavsky, Brilliant
1967 — Andy Urbanic, Wheeling Central
1966 — Don Ault, Bellaire
1965 — Joe Ault, Bridgeport
1964 — Dick Thurnes, Tiltonsville
1963 — Dan McGrew, Bellaire St. John’s
1962 — George Strager, Wheeling Central
1940 — Bill Dorsey, Powhatan and Stan Plummer, Bridgeport
1939 — Bob Roe, Warwood
*No picks between 1941-1961.