Saturday, September 8, 2012

    Columbiana High 38, Steubenville Catholic Central 35   

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 WRAP-UP from, published 9/17/2012

PREVIEW from, published 9/8/2012


Written by Mario Saggio

The Columbiana Clippers invade Harding Stadium Saturday night to battle the Crusaders of Steubenville Catholic Central in week three of the 2012 high school football campaign.

It will mark the fourth time that the two teams have faced each other on the gridiron. Central took the initial meeting during the 2005 OHSAA playoffs, defeating the Clippers 56-21 en route to a berth in the Division VI title game. Three year later, the Clippers exacted a measure of revenge with a 27-13 win to open the 2008 campaign, before captured a thrilling 41-40 overtime win in the 2009 opener.

Both teams enter this week’s contest at 1-1 with each bouncing back from season-opening setbacks. Steve Daley’s Crusaders rebounded from a 44-42 loss to Bellaire by beating Frontier 23-8 in a game that was called in the second quarter due to severe storms. The Clippers, on the other hand, impressed with a 39-6 rout of East Palestine, one week after a 37-33 defeat against Crestview.

The Crusader offense has put up big numbers early in the season. Junior quarterback Brenton Colabella has completed 24 of 38 pass attempts for 455 yards and seven touchdowns. Just as impressive is the fact that he has connected with six different receivers and has yet to throw an interception.

Rangy senior Zach Herrington has been his main target, hauling in nine passes for 197 yards and two scores. Junior Ryan Fletcher is next in line with six catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior Ryan Laukert tallied two scores last week and has three receptions for 76 yards in two games. Classmate Michael Carapellotti has three catches for 33 yards and a score.

Senior Doug Maslowski has helped balance the Central attack with 176 yards on 22 carries, adding a score on the ground. Fletcher has tallied 33 yards and a score on three rushes, while sophomore Stone Romano has added 36 yards on six carries.

Defensively, the Crusaders have seven takeaways in two weeks. Laukert has picked off two enemy passes, while Herrington and Aleks Porreca have one theft apiece.

Fletcher, Romano and sophomore Chris Murphy have each recovered fumbles, with the latter two having recorded one and two sacks, respectively. Cornerback Khalil Jones paces the squad in tackles with 14, while Porreca and Romano have registered 11 and 10 stops each.

Romano has converted all four of his conversion attempts, while Colabella has averaged nearly 36 yards per punt.

Bob Spaite’s Clippers finished last season 8-3, qualifying for the OHSAA playoffs in Division V, Region 17. After an opening loss to fellow playoff qualifer Columbiana Crestview, they bounced back with a solid win over East Palestine last week.

Sophomore Nate Huk (6-2, 185) directs Columbiana’s triple option attack and is joined in the backfield by slotbacks Mike Tiller, a 6-3, 175-pound sophomore, and Britton Steiginga, a 5-8, 145-pound senior with impressive speed who amassed 242 yards and three scores on just 11 carries in week one.

Last year, he rushed for 535 yards, while catching 15 passes for 153 yards.

Huk rushed for one touchdown last week while throwing for another.

5-10, 196-pound senior Brandon Hacker is the fullback, with help from 5-9, 186-pound junior John Cramer.

Jake DeLong, a 6-3, 180-pound senior, lines up at split end with 6-1, 190-pound senior Matt Hopfenziz at tight end. 5-10, 149-pound junior RJ Rankin and 5-10, 150-pound senior Garrett Patrick are other key targets.

Senior Hayden Sneltzer (6-0, 220) handles the center spot, flanked by guards Dillon Randolph (5-7, 235 junior) and Jacob Theil (5-11, 235 senior), and tackles Justin Huffman (6-3, 245 senior) and Steve Kurilla (5-11, 187 junior). Jared Hill, a 5-10, 178-pound senior, will also see action.

Defensively, the Clippers run a 44 with Sneltzer, Cramer and Randolph alternating at tackle. Hill and junior Mike Buzzard (6-3, 196) will be the ends.

Hopfenziz and Kurilla will line up at inside linebacker, while Hacker and Rankin are the outside backers.

The speedy Steiginga quarterbacks the secondary from his safety spot, with DeLong and Garrett Patrick at the corners.

Kickoff for Saturday’s contest is 7:00 p.m.



Written by Mario Saggio

For the second time in three weeks, the Steubenville Catholic Central Crusaders found themselves on the short end of a close, high-scoring contest as the Clippers of Columbiana held on for an exciting 38-35 win Saturday night at Harding Stadium.

The two teams combined for 768 total yards and 35 first downs in a back-and-forth battle that, ironically, turned on two defensive plays by the visiting Clippers.

Leading 26-21 early in the fourth quarter, Columbiana lost the ball on their own 26-yard line when the Crusaders’ Chris Murphy pounced on a Clipper fumble. Six plays later, Central faced a fourth-and-goal from the one when the Columbiana defense stepped up, stuffing the hosts for a two-yard loss.

Not to be outdone, the Crusader defense forced a punt that looked as if it would give the Blue and Gold great field position. Unfortunately, the Clipper offering was fumbled and the visitors recovered on their own 28-yard line.

Britton Steiginga took a first-down pitchout to the left before cutting back across the grain and outracing the Central defense for the 72-yard score that gave Columbiana a lead that they would not relinquish.

The home-standing Crusaders would not go down without a fight, though, marching 62 yards in eight plays to cut into the 11-point lead. Quarterback Brenton Colabella finished off the drive with an eight-yard scoring burst. Murphy’s two-point conversion pass to Luke Potenzini drew the Crusaders within three.

Columbiana showed their resolve, though, with a 65-yard drive that would extend their lead for good. Steiginga capped the nine-play trek with an eight-yard burst around the left side. Another failed conversion kept the score at 38-29.

Steve Daley’s Crusaders continued to press the issue, using just five plays to travel 69 yards and give themselves one last chance. Colabella’s eight-yard connection to Zach Herrington in the right side of the end zone again brought the Crusaders within three points less than 44 seconds from the end of regulation.

The visitors snuffed out Central’s last hope, though, covering the ensuing onside kick before running out the clock on their second win of the young season.

Steiginga started off the Clippers’ scoring barrage with a 12-yard fumble return late in the first quarter. Brandon Hacker’s PAT upped the count to 7-0 at the 7:59 mark. Two plays earlier, a Columbiana punt had pinned the hosts back on their own five-yard line.

Central wasted no time tying things up. Following a first-down incompletion from their own 32, the Crusaders’ Herrington made a spectacular catch along the right sideline for a 39-yard gain. On the next play, Colabella hit Kyle Laukert with a 29-yard scoring strike. Doug Maslowski’s PAT knotted the score with 3:02 left in the opening quarter.

After an exchange of punts, the Crusader defense came up with another turnover when Ryan Fletcher picked off a Clipper aerial at the Columbiana 34-yard line. Six plays later, Central faced a fourth-and-nine from the enemy 21 when Michael Carapellotti made a diving catch of a Colabella pass in the left corner of the end zone to give Central the lead with 7:55 to play in the half. Maslowski again split the uprights.

Central’s defense stepped to the forefront again, stopping Columbiana for no gain on a fourth-and-one at the Crusader 40. The hosts drove to the opposing 28-yard line before turning it over on downs.

Despite losing starting quarterback Nate Huk to an injury moments earlier, the Clippers tied the score with under a minute to play in the half when the speedy Steiginga took an errant shotgun snap and evaded the Crusader rush en route to a 24-yard touchdown run. Hacker’s PAT was true with 51 seconds to play in the half.

A Columbiana punt on the opening drive of the second half put Central at their own 36. Five plays later, the Crusaders regained the lead when Colabella again connected with Laukert, this time from 28 yards out. Stone Romano nailed the PAT for a 21-14 Central lead just 3:34 after intermission.

The visitors answered with an eight-play, 59-yard drive that culminated in a 34-yard scoring toss from Drew Cyrus that went through the hands of a Central defender into the awaiting arms of Hacker. A failed conversion left the Clippers trailing by a point with 4:29 to play in the third quarter.

The Clippers took the lead after forcing a Crusader punt and driving 63 yards in five plays, Hacker again doing the honors, this time from a yard out with 1:45 remaining before the final stanza.

Huk’s injury was the turning point as Clipper Coach Bob Spaite installed a two-tight end, stack-I formation that gave the Central defense fits. Steiginga did the most damage, carrying 15 times for 164 yards and three scores. Hacker added 135 yards and one score on 24 carries to go with his touchdown reception.

Colabella turned in another solid effort for Central, connecting on 28 of 46 pass attempts for 369 yards and four scores. He did, however, suffer his first two interceptions of the young season.

Carapellotti hauled in a career-high 11 passes for 114 yards and a score. Laukert nabbed seven catches for 119 yards and two scores, while Herrington snagged five passes for 96 yards and a score.

Maslowski paced the Crusaders on the ground with 31 yards on eight rushes.

Central returns to action Friday night at 7, heading North to battle arch rival Toronto at the newly renovated Clark Hinkle Stadium. The 2-1 Clippers will host Wellsville Friday night.


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