Friday, November 2, 2012

    Mogadore High 49, Steubenville Catholic Central 24   

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 WRAP-UP from, published 12/3/2012

PREVIEW from, published 11/2/2012


Written by Mario Saggio

Head Coach Steve Daley and his staff will lead their Fighting Crusaders into battle Friday night when Steubenville Catholic Central travels to Mogadore to face the 10-0 Wildcats, who were crowned the Associated Press regular season champion in Division VI and enter the 2012 OHSAA playoffs atop the Region 21 computer rankings.

The Crusaders come into the game with a 6-4 record, which earned them the eighth and final spot in the region. Hoping to rebound from consecutive losses in the last two games of the regular season, Central will have it’s hands full against one of the state’s premier small-school programs.

Mogadore has over 600 wins all-time and enters the playoffs for the 26th time, this marking the 14th straight, going 46-22 in that span. The Wildcats captured state titles in 1979, 1996, and 2002, and have finished as state runner-up four times.

Current head coach Matt Adorni is in his ninth year directing the program. He has led the Wildcats to the Portage County Conference title in six of their seven years as a member, and a playoff berth in every one of his seasons at the helm. The Wildcats advanced to the state semi-finals in two of those years, 2006 and 2010, falling to Shadyside both times.

This year’s squad rolled through the regular season, outscoring their opponents by a 390-154 margin. Their wins came over Crestwood (21-9), Smithville (42-26), Northwestern (26-20), Woodridge (35-28), Waterloo (42-14), Windham (60-0), Garfield (38-0), Rootstown (63-26), Southeast (30-19), and East Canton (33-12).

That slate included three teams from Division III, one from Division IV, and three Division V squads. Woodridge is a postseason qualifier in Division III, Region 9, while Northwestern made the cut in Division IV, Region 13.

The main cog in the Wildcats’ offense is 6-1, 205-pound senior fullback Gary Strain, who broke a foot during the summer but only missed two games despite not being expected back until midseason.

In eight games, he ground out 1,250 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also accounted for five scoring receptions and has a kickoff return for a score to his credit.

Lining up behind him at tailback is 5-8, 165-pound sophomore Brandon Berry, who added seven touchdowns to the Mogadore ground attack.

Directing the attack is 5-10, 155-pound Anthony Ricci. The junior quarterback threw for 15 touchdowns on the season, including two last week.

Senior split end Kasey Beard (6-3, 170) is his main target, hauling in seven of those touchdown spirals, including a 20-yarder last week against East Canton.

Flanker Austin Pierce, a 6-0, 150-pound senior, was on the receiving end of two scoring passes, while classmate Jake Cramer, a 5-8, 150-pound slot back, had a key touchdown run in the week three win over Northwestern.

In that same game, senior tight end Jonathan Miller (6-4, 185), hauled in the go-ahead touchdown. When the Wildcats go double tight, they bring in another senior - 6-3, 160-pound Hunter Van Camp, who also accounted for a touchdown reception during the season.

Providing the blocking for the potent Mogadore arsenal is a line that features three seniors - center Sam Graska (6-0, 265), and tackles Jared Berkman (6-2, 215) and Joe Callihan (6-3, 245). Junior guard Kenny Vechik (6-1, 235) and sophomore guard Dakota Christy (5-8, 195) round out the starting five up front.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats employ a four-man front led by 5-9, 175-pound senior end Scott Hower. Flanking him on the other side is 5-10, 170-pound junior Austin Kerr. Also working in the rotation at end is Callihan.

Manning the tackle spots will be 5-9, 200-pound sophomore Vince Skye and 5-9, 190-pound junior Tyler Higgins. Adding depth is 6-1, 220-pound junior James Cappenger.

Joining Strain at linebacker are senior Evan Uhalley (5-11, 175) and a pair of juniors, 5-9, 175-pound Bryce Huth and 5-8, 160-pound Jeremy Hugg.

Pierce and Van Camp cover the corners, with Cramer patrolling the free safety spot. 5-7, 150-pound junior Justin Chew is the strong safety.

Handling the place-kicking duties is 5-8, 140-pound sophomore Riley Jones, who converted 31 of 35 extra points and notched a 25-yard field goal in the win over Southeast.

The Crusaders are making their first post-season appearance since the 2007 season, but Central is no stranger to the OHSAA playoffs. Friday night’s game will mark the 10th time that the Blue and Gold has played beyond week ten, sporting an 11-8 mark in those first nine appearances.

1993 saw Catholic Central capture the Divison V state title. Two years earlier, the Crusaders had advanced to the state semi-finals. In 2005, Catholic Central won their only meeting with Mogadore, registering a 35-13 win in round two on their way to a berth in the Division VI title game.

This year’s unit suffered a season-opening loss to Bellaire (44-42), before splitting their next two contests, a storm-shortened 23-8 win over Frontier and a 38-35 loss to Columbiana. Winners of their next five games - Toronto (49-7), Oak Glen (WV) 28-6, Conotton Valley (54-7), Barnesville (63-14), and Weir (WV) 53-8 - Central came up short against Weirton Madonna (WV) 21-20 before falling to Magnolia (WV) 35-0 last week.

Two Division III squads, four Division V teams, and three playoff qualifiers (Bellaire, Weirton Madonna, and Magnolia) were among the opponents.

Central’s spread offense saw junior quarterback Brenton Colabella throw for 25 touchdowns and 2,166 yards, completing 138 of his 229 attempts. He was only intercepted five times.

He led Division VI in attempts, while ranking second in completions, yardage, touchdown passes and completion percentage (.603). He also has one rushing touchdown under his belt.

Senior wideout Zach Herrington was on the receiving end of 39 of those completions, tallying 702 yards and 10 touchdowns, tying him for the Division VI lead in the latter category and putting him third in the former two.

Classmate Kyle Laukert racked up 29 catches for 537 yards and five scores from the slot, ranking in the top ten in each category for Division VI.

Junior slot man Ryan Fletcher (who also rushed for two scores) was close behind with 28 receptions for 387 yards and three scores, while senior wideout Michael Carapellotti added 21 catches for 221 yards and four scores.

Tailback Doug Maslowski returns after missing the regular-season finale. His absence left a huge void as the speedy senior leads the squad with 811 yards and 15 touchdowns on 104 carries.

Sophomore fullback Stone Romano has bulled his way to over 100 yards while junior Luke Potenzini has found the end zone three times via the ground and once through the air for the Crusaders.

A pair of veteran tackles, senior Geno Taglione and junior Jake McCann, have been stalwarts on the offensive front, while sophomore Jonathan Shrieve has been a consistent force at center.

Senior Kevan Zapolnik is the mainstay among the guards, with solid play coming from the contingent of senior Harley Ehrman and juniors Marty Engle, Jimmy Joe Mort, and Tony Godich.

A big reason for Central’s first playoff appearance in five years is the improvement of a defense that forced 30 turnovers and accounted for four touchdowns.

McCann leads the front line with 42 stops from his end spot. Four of his tackles have been behind the line of scrimmage, to go along with his four sacks and a fumble recovery. Taglione has recorded 31 tackles, including three for negative yardage, and one sack.

Engle’s 25 stops include one sack and three tackles for negative yardage, the same as senior Steve Butto in the latter two categories.

Sophomore linebacker Chris Murphy paces the defense in fumble recoveries (four - one of which he returned for a score), and is tied for second in tackles (59) and sacks (six). He also has recorded eight stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Romano also has six sacks among his 52 tackles and is tied for the team lead in stops for lost yardage with 11. He also has a fumble recovery to his credit.

Zapolnik has made 40 stops, including 10 behind the line of scrimmage, as well as garnering a sack and an interception.

In the secondary, junior safety Aleks Porreca paces the team in tackles with 62, of which 11 have been behind the line of scrimmage, tying him for the team lead. He also has an interception and fumble recovery to his credit.

Fletcher matches Murphy’s 59 tackles, and is tied for the team lead in interceptions with three. He also has four stops for negative yardage, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown from his safety spot.

Herrington’s versatility has helped him account for 27 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery that he took in for a score.

At the corners, two of Laukert’s 36 tackles have been for lost yardage, and he and junior Khalil Jones (34 tackles) have picked off three enemy passes each. Laukert also has a fumble recovery for a score.

Special teams has been another area of marked improvement for the Crusaders. Romano has converted 26 of 30 extra point attempts, while Maslowski has been successful on 10 of his 13 attempts.

Colabella is averaging over 32 yards per punt, while Jones and Fletcher are averaging over 31 and 23 yards, respectively, on kickoff returns, and both have been solid, if not spectacular, on punt returns.

Friday’s game at Mogadore’s Wildcat Stadium is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m.



Written by Mario Saggio

Trailing only 14-6 at halftime of their first-round playoff battle at Mogadore, Steve Daley’s Steubenville Catholic Central Crusaders appeared primed to upset the Wildcats, who entered Friday night’s game as the top seed in Region 21 and the top-rated team in the Associated Press’s Ohio Division VI final poll.

The home-standing Wildcats had other ideas, though, taking the second-half kickoff and starting an onslaught that saw them rack up 28 third-quarter points en route to a convincing 49-24 win over the Crusaders, who end their season with a 6-5 mark.

Mogadore improved to 11-0 and moves on to face 9-2 Berlin Center Western Reserve, which advanced with a 19-18 road win over Shadyside Friday night.

Gary Strain paced a Mogadore ground game that amassed 355 of the Wildcats’ 447 total yards. The bruising fullback ran for 215 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries. Tailback Brandon Berry also crossed the goal line three times, adding 106 yards on 14 rushing attempts.

Strain got the scoring started with a 40-yard jaunt that came just four plays after the Wildcat defense forced a Central punt on the game’s opening possession. Riley Jones’ conversion gave the hosts a 7-0 lead four minutes into the contest.

After forcing another Crusader punt, Mogadore took over on their own 22 and moved deep into Central territory before the drive stalled.

The visitors then embarked on a 12-play drive that culminated in Brenton Colabella’s 19-yard scoring pass to Ryan Fletcher. The Crusader quarterback completed all seven of his passing attempts on the possession, accounting for 61 of the 78 yards. A failed PAT kept Mogadore ahead less than a minute into the second quarter.

Three minutes later, Berry scored from 13 yards out after breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage on the eighth play of a 63-yard drive. Jones bumped the lead to 14-6 with his second PAT of the night.

Another Crusader punt put Mogadore at their own 22 before Fletcher came up with his second big play of the game, picking off a Wildcat pass at midfield and returning it to the hosts’ 43-yard line. Colabella quickly went to work, connecting twice with Michael Carapellotti, and once each with Fletcher and Kyle Laukert to move Central inside the 20. The Wildcat defense stiffened, though, and a fourth-down pass at the goal line fell incomplete, preserving the eight-point margin through intermission.

A long return of the second-half kickoff by Mogadore’s Jake Cramer put the Wildcats across midfield. Berry’s 11-yard burst capped the eight-play drive and Jones’ PAT upped the lead to 21-6 just 3:17 into the second half.

The Crusaders answered just three plays after a penalty on the ensuing kickoff moved them just shy of midfield. Central rushing standout Doug Maslowski hit the left side of the line, broke two tackles and outran the defense for the 40-yard scoring run. Colabella was sacked on the two-point conversion attempt, keeping the score 21-12 with 7:30 to play in the quarter.

Cramer’s 58-yard kickoff return gave Mogadore possession at the Crusader 19-yard line. Four plays later, Strain went over the top of the pile for a two-yard score and Jones staked the hosts to a 28-12 lead midway through the third stanza.

After forcing another Central punt, Mogadore got on the board again with a six-play, 57-yard drive that was capped when Strain took it in from the seven with just over two minutes left in the quarter. Jones again split the uprights.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when a Colabella pass was picked off near midfield and returned to the Crusader one-yard line. Berry’s plunge and Jones’ extra point made the score 42-12.

Mogadore got their final score of the night after an errant snap led to a blocked punt, giving the Wilcats the ball at the Crusader 20-yard line. Two plays later, Andrew Owens burst over the left side for a 15-yard score. Jones capped his perfect night less than a minute into the final stanza.

Central marched 80 yards in nine plays as Colabella connected from 11 yards out with Zach Herrington in the right corner of the end zone with 7:39 to play. The ensuing two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.

A Wildcat punt gave the Crusaders possession at their own 15. Ten plays later, Colabella’s fourth-down pass from the 21 found Laukert in the end zone just 2:52 before the final whistle. Another two-point conversion pass failed, leaving the final score at 49-24.

Mogadore quarterback Anthony Ricci completed six of his 11 pass attempts for 92 yards, connecting with Kasey Beard twice for 43 yards. Strain, Austin Pierce, and Hunter Van Camp each tallied one reception.

Colabella finished the night with 302 yards on 33 of 52 passing. Herrington was his main target, hauling in 13 passes for 134 yards. Laukert added nine catches for 89 yards, while Fletcher snagged seven aerials for 67 yards, and Carapellotti garnered four catches for 33 yards.

The Crusaders totaled 71 yards on the ground, with Maslowski pacing the effort with 76 yards on nine carries.

Central’s 6-5 record marked their first winning season since 2007, which was also the last year that the Crusaders qualified for the OHSAA playoffs.

Colabella finished the season with 2,488 yards passing, completing 171 of his 282 attempts for a better than 60 percent completion rate. The junior threw for 28 touchdowns against a mere six interceptions, as well as rushing for a score.

Senior wideout Zach Herrington was Colabella’s main target, hauling in 52 aerials for 836 yards and 11 touchdowns, tying the school single-season mark in the latter. Classmate Kyle Laukert was on the receiving end of 38 passes, accumulating 627 yards and six scores from his slot position.

Junior slot man Ryan Fletcher notched 35 catches for 449 yards and four scores and a pair of two-point conversions, while senior wideout Michael Carapellotti grabbed 25 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns.

Tailback Doug Maslowski added eight catches for 65 yards, while a pair of junior slot backs, Khalil Jones and Johnny DiCarlantonio, each had a touchdown catch among their four receptions for 108 and 104 yards, respectively.

Junior tight end/fullback Luke Potenzini’s five catches went for 20 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

Maslowski was the stalwart of the Crusader rushing attack, notching 889 yards, 16 touchdowns, and a two-point conversion on 114 carries in his senior season. Sophomore fullback Stone Romano bulled his way to 116 yards on 34 carries, while Potenzini scored three times and totaled 37 yards on 10 attempts.

Fletcher accounted for two scores and 30 yards on just five rushes, with freshman Cedro Parise tallying 79 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

Defensively, junior safety Aleks Porreca led the team in tackles with 75 and tied Romano in stops for negative yardage with 11. He also picked off one pass and recovered a fumble.

Fletcher was next in line with 65 tackles (four behind the line of scrimmage), while leading the squad with four interceptions, one of which he returned for a score. He added two fumble recoveries from his safety spot.

The versatile Herrington tallied 27 tackles (two for lost yardage), two sacks, two interceptions, and recovered one fumble that he returned for a score.

Cornerbacks Laukert and Jones each had 37 tackles and three interceptions, with two of the former’s tackles going for negative yardage, as well as a fumble recovery for a score.

Sophomore Chris Murphy paced the linebacking corps with 64 tackles (eight for negative yardage), a team-leading four fumble recoveries (returning one for a score), and tied Romano for the team lead in sacks with six.

Aside from tying for the team lead in sacks and tackles for lost yardage, Romano tallied 57 tackles and a fumble recovery from his linebacker spot.

Senior linebacker Kevan Zapolnik racked up 53 tackles, including 10 behind the line of scrimmage, an interception and a sack.

Junior end Jake McCann led the front line with 43 stops (four behind the line of scrimmage), four sacks, a fumble recovery, and a safety. The other end, senior Geno Taglione, notched 36 stops (three for losses) and a sack.

Junior tackle Marty Engle made 27 tackles, including three behind the line of scrimmage, and recorded a sack. Senior Steve Butto matched him in the latter two categories.

Romano converted 26 of his 31 extra point attempts, with Maslowski making 10 of his 13 conversion kicks.

Colabella averaged 32.1 yards on his 35 punts.

Fletcher and Jones each returned 14 kickoffs, garnering 329 (23.5 avg.) and 307 (21.9 avg.) yards, respectively, with the latter taking one the distance.

The same pair paced the team in punt returns, with Jones garnering 97 yards on seven attempts for a 13.9 yard average, and Fletcher totaling 79 yards on 12 returns for a 6.6 average.

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