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Jets Play Surging Big Reds

Photo by Joe Lovell After knocking off previously-undefeated Shadyside last week, Bellaire will take on a Union Local team that has lost two out of its last three games.

Two teams that seem to be trending in different directions are set to clash Friday night in Morristown.

Surging Bellaire, which is coming off a hard-earned 13-12 win over Shadyside last week, will take on Union Local, which has lost two of three including last week’s decisive setback at St. Clairsville.

Bellaire head coach Mark Spigarelli was quite impressed with how his team rebounded from its loss to St. Clairsville two weeks ago last week at Fleming Field. The Big Reds have all but locked up a berth in the Division V, Region 17 tournament, but are now looking for a home game in at least the opening round and the OVAC 3A title.

Now, however, he’s anxious to see how his squad gets back on the ground following the victory to get ready for the Jets.

“Hopefully, our kids will respond the same way they did last week,” Spigarelli said. “We have another chance to play a great opponent. We realize they didn’t fare well against St. Clairsville, but a lot of teams don’t, so we can’t put any stock into that.”

The Jets are currently sitting at 5-2 on the season and have slid to 12th in the OHSAA’s Division IV, Region 15 computer rankings. That, however, doesn’t matter to UL head coach Bernie Thompson.

“I pay zero attention to those rankings,” Thompson said. “We’re focused on Bellaire and our practice each day. We understand the big picture of where we are and where we can go. No matter how we’re feeling or how banged up we are, it’s time for us to man up. We have to dig deep, see what we’re made of and push through.”

The Jets offense will have to contend a Bellaire defense that allows only 14.25 points a game and has forced 24 turnovers for the season. The unit is led by senior standout Colt Sechrest at linebacker.

“Bellaire is very tough,” Thompson said. “They’re aggressiveness and how physical they are is what jumps out about them. They bring it and you have to be ready to match that. We have to do a good job of handling their physicality.”

The Jets offense was limited to 87 yards last week by the Red Devils. They’ll be looking to get junior running back Hayden McCrate going. He averaged 191.5 yards a game for the first four games, but has only averaged 38 yards a game in the last three weeks.

All told, McCrate has accumulated 880 yards and scored nine touchdowns.

Junior Carter Blake triggers the offense at quarterback. He’s had some ups and downs this season, too. He’s coming off a 4 of 15 effort for 15 yards. For the season, he’s completed 44 of 102 passes for 710 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Gannon Kerns, McCrate and Caleb McWhorter are the Jets top receiving targets.

“All of those skills guys have proven to be dangerous,” Spigarelli said. “You can tell how much bigger, faster and stronger Union Local is as a whole. We have to be ready to play and Union Local is a place we’ve sometimes not played well.”

Bellaire’s offense is balanced between the run and pass.

Junior Jake Heatherington has completed 78 of 149 passes for 992 yards and seven touchdowns.

Sechrest is a handful both as a runner (43-268-4TD) and receiver (15-287-5TD).

Junior Brayden Roth is the Big Reds top rusher. He’s carried 92 times for 581 yards and six touchdowns.

Juniors Ray Ray Pettigrew (17-262-2), Jakob Dowling (21-223-1) and senior Jaiden Kesterson (16-162) are the Heatherington’s primary pass catchers.

“Bellaire is a tough team to defend because they can beat you in a bunch of ways,” Thompson said. “They have a good quarterback, Sechrest is a handful and they have a lot of other options around those guys.”

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