The Blue Devils journey to Wheeling
A?brief look at how St. Marys arrived at The Island
ST. MARYS — Though the win over West Virginia Class A playoff seed No. 3 Fayetteville in a semifinal matchup was without a doubt one of the biggest, No. 2 seed St. Marys had to bring it for 12 other wins this season to earn the opportunity to play for a championship against No. 1 East Hardy Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium.
St. Marys head coach Jodi Mote, his staff, and their players had to be on the same page from day one. Coaches had to call the right plays, the players had to execute those plays, and a little luck was needed too.
Everything went swimmingly through the first three games of the season as the offense rolled up points and the defense shut down every opponent in their way. Mote and company outscored Ritchie County, Wirt County, and Parkersburg Catholic, 146-14. Special teams and scoring off turnovers were big reasons the Blue Devils jumped out to big leads and never looked back. Defensive coordinator Jay Powell and his defense forced 7 turnovers (4 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries).
Marietta provided St. Marys with its first taste of adversity in the fourth game of the season.
However, it did take a little while for the Tigers to get in position to do so.
The Blue Devils jumped out to a 37-8 lead with 10:38 left in the third quarter only to watch the Tigers score the next 22 points to pull within 37-30. Jaiden Smith punched the lead back up to 14 after he found the endzone from 20 yards out with 4:02 left in the game. Tigers’ quarterback Trent Dawson and company put in one last score but Smith answered again with a 53-yard run to seal the deal.
Marietta mounted the first sustained attack against the Blue Devils’ to the point in the season. The Tigers’ senior signal-caller shredded the St. Marys secondary to the tune of 379 yards on 24 of 40 completions. Both his favorite targets went over the century mark with Travis Moore gaining 152 yards and Isaac Danford racking up 192.
“That game (against Marietta) really opened our eyes,” said Jacob Northrop. “It was the first time we had been challenged all year and really the first time we had proved vulnerable through the air. I think in the long run it really helped us out the rest of the year learning about ourselves in pass coverage.”
Following a bye week Northrop and his team made the 14-mile trip to Williamstown for a matchup with the heated rival Yellowjackets. Terry Smith and his boys played the Blue Devils tough and battled to a 7-7 halftime tie. Both SMHS QB Will Billeter and WHS QB Trenton Tallman scored the touchdowns in the opening half of play. Billeter got in on a one-yard sneak and Tallman rumbled 53 yards to paydirt.
By the way, the game was an instant classic for those who like driving rainstorms in the middle of their contests.
Both teams continued to play tough and the score remained knotted up until Billeter found the end zone from 19 yards out on a QB run to send the Blue Devils to a 13-7 lead. However, Williamstown didn’t answer this time and St. Marys tacked on a safety and another touchdown en route to a 21-7 win.
The following two games were nowhere near as competitive with Calhoun County falling 57-0 and Magnolia suffering a 49-7 setback at the hands of Mote and company.
Next up on the schedule was South Harrison, who rolled into the game ranked third in the state and owned one of the best running back combos in Freddy Canary and Cameron Barnette. Although the Hawks had some firepower, St. Marys had more and proved it after falling behind for the first time this season. Brenton Barnette hauled in a 30-yard catch from quarterback Landon McFaddon for the first points of the game only to see St. Marys score the next 47 on its way to a 47-6 thumping.
“We had to play in four inches of water on the field,” said South Harrison coach Brad Jett. “But then again so did St. Marys and they executed well and came out with the win.”
Executed well may be an understatement as the Powell’s defensive held the two stud running backs to 12 yards and 16 rushing attempts.
Sitting at 8-0, St. Marys finished off the season with dominating victories over Ravenswood (63-13) and Tyler Consolidated (52-26) to earn the No. 2 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs until Wheeling.
Their opponent in the opening round, No. 15 Buffalo, came into the matchup itching for some revenge after St. Marys ended its season in 2015 in the first round. Bison running back Dylan Lucas led a talented team but the offense and he weren’t able to get much going. The Blue Devils rolled out to an early lead and never looked back on the way to a 49-7 victory.
Next up was No. 7 seed and undefeated Gilmer County, a team coming off the schools first playoff win a week ago. Gilmer brought with them a potent offense but left Bill Hanlin Staidum with zero points on the board and their first loss of the season after St. Marys shut them down, 47-0.
The win brought them to the semifinal matchup with the undefeated Pirates. Much like Gilmer, Dave Moneypenny and his staff brought in a great offense but it didn’t matter as the Blue Devils had their way in a 47-0 win.