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St. Marys just a win away from Charleston

St. Marys quarterback Brennan Boron runs to the end zone during his team’s 52-49 win over Midland Trail last Sunday. (Photo by Josh Hughes)

ST. MARYS — The No. 4 St. Marys Blue Devils (11-1) are a win away from a berth in the Class A state championship, so what’s the message head coach Jodi Mote wants to send to his team? Just focus. Mote has been here before, as SMHS has clinched a spot in the Super Six three times under him. What’s new is the fact that the roster has changed a bunch since the team’s last title appearance in 2017. Pendleton County comes to town to do battle at 1:30 p.m., as the Wildcats look to pull off an upset and send the Devils home for the second year in a row.

That loss was a 13-2 affair which saw Mote’s offense frustrated and unable to generate points of their own. Heading into this contest, the Blue Devils kept scoring when needed in a 52-49 slugfest win over Midland Trail. When asked if that explosion of offense gives his team momentum heading into this matchup, Mote just said the offense needed to stay focused with an upset-mided Pendleton County (8-2) team on the horizon.

“You wish you played better offense, but you’ve got to credit (Midland Trail) for playing good offense,” Mote said. “It’s just a matter of playing four quarters and putting points on the board.”

Putting those points on the board was a necessity, as Brennan Boron, Tre Moss and the rest of the skill players needed a big afternoon to get the job done. Now, quarterback Isaiah Gardiner and the Wildcats bring a varied offensive attack into Bill Hanlin Stadium. Perhaps the biggest threat to the St. Marys defense is Gardiner’s arm, as the seniors footwork and pocket presence give him the opportunity to air out a deep ball when needed. That tests a St. Marys defense led by players like Boron, Darrien Bortey and Ben Long who could all see time being tested by Gardiner’s arm.

“They’ve got a fantastic quarterback, they’ve got a fantastic running back (Dalton Dunkle) and (Dunkle) scored all six touchdowns last week.”

You heard that right. Dunkle found paydirt six times in the 41-17 win over Tygarts Valley. The rushing attack of Boron, Moss, Long and Cyle West looks to balance out the Wildcats’ rushing game, as Mote was complimentary of how the No. 8 seed prepares for gameday.

“That’s a credit to the offensive line. The offensive line is also doing something,” he said. “Defensively, they’ve been lined up (in different formations), so you’re not sure what you’ll see out of them. As far as special teams, we’ve been scouting them to be ready for what they do. We’re in the semifinal round, and there are only three teams left, because of COVID. One team (Ritchie County) has already advanced to the Super Six, and the winner of our game goes to the Super Six. We’re playing football on the week of Thanksgiving, and anytime you can do that, it’s a blessing. We’ve just got to go out there and play ball to see what happens.”

While Mote readies all phases of the game, the togetherness of the team is a driving force behind all the success, according to Boron. In a season full of uncertainty, being able to be around teammates and prepare for what comes next gave Boron plenty to be thankful for on turkey day.

“We’ve spent a long time being out on the field, putting in work and running routes,” Boron said following the win over Midland Trail. “We’ve just been working on our feet, and we put in a lot of work going into the postseason. Now, we’re hoping to make it to the state title game.”

Contact Josh Hughes at jhughes@newsandsentinel.com

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