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The Final Four

November 13, 2009
By STEPHANIE ELVERD, Sports writer

"Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan."

- Tom Landry

Every football team sets goals. The ultimate of course is a state championship. For four of our local teams - Big Red, Brooke, Madonna and Oak Glen - that dream could still become reality.

Steubenville was our only Ohio team to survive Week 1. The Red play Salem tonight at New Philadelphia. Brooke and Madonna, both top seeds, open the season tonight at home gainst No. 16 seeds, while Oak Glen, a No. 16 seed, takes its game on the road, Saturday.

Big Red vs. Salem

I spent the better half of the week opening up hate mail from Alliance Marlington fans, who obviously watched a different game then I did last week. In their defense, maybe they didn't realize they had scored their last two TDs against Big Red's third string, but calling the inadverted whistle "a game changer" was a bit of stretch.

I believe in supporting your team but that doesn't mean you should turn your back to common sense. Let's call last week's game what it was - a mismatch. Marlington came to play and put up the best fight it could, but at no point was Steubenville in danger of losing the game. The Red scored on it's first three possessions and led 20-0. Big Red could have won by 40, but called off the dogs.

Alliance should be appreciative of that, not angry about it. They should also be thankful that Big Red didn't punt. It gave their Dukes a short field and six points. The stats don't lie and the stats say Big Red rolled.

I think they'll do the same this week, though Salem will prove more challenging then the one-dimensional Dukes.

The Quakers, who are making their first playoff appearance, could score two or three legitimate touchdowns on Steubenville, but the Red will score at least six in a 41-20 victory.

Princeton at Brooke

With coach Tom Bruney banished form the sidelines after last week's game ejection - that'll teach him to ask for a timeout - the Bruins will have to get through Round 1 of the Class AAA playoffs without him.

I have complete confidence that Brooke will. With Ryan Lazear back in the backfield, quarterback Cotey Wallace barking out signals and big Jake Lilly doing the blocking, the Bruins offense will put up some impressive numbers tonight at Brooke Memorial.

I have to hand it to Princeton. After opening up the season with four-straight losses, the Tigers won their next six to squeak into the playoffs. They should be proud of what they accomplished this season, but the accomplishments stop here.

The top-seeded Bruins will remain undefeated with a 49-28 win.

Gilbert County

at Madonna

Like the Bruins, the No. 1 Blue Dons face a 16th seed tonight when Gilbert County comes to Jimmy Carey Stadium. Nothing against Gilbert County but the trip into Hancock County will not be a pleasant one.

The Dons are simply too driven, too talented and too much of a team to bow out of the postseason this early. I expect them to go as far they can. They'll make it to that last game at Wheeling Island.

The journey to the Island begins tonight with a 42-0 win.

Oak Glen

at Wayne County

The Golden Bears find themselves on the opposite side of things. They are not the No. 1 team in Class AA, and instead will face the top seed when they travel to Wayne County.

The Golden Bears are 6-4 and ranked No. 16 in Class AA, while the Pioneers are 10-0 and ranked No. 1 heading into Saturday opening round playoff game at Pioneer Field.

Tony Filberto has said he doesn't feel his team are the underdogs. It's hard to argue with that. Oak Glen has come along way over the last two seasons. There was a time when just making the playoffs seemed like an impossibilty, but the Bears are there. It's easy to believe them when they say they're going down there to win a football game.

Call me crazy - it's OK I've been called worse - but I'm taking the Bears to pull off a stunner tonight. They play a heck of a schedule and it'll pay off with a 13-6 shocker.

(Elverd, a resident of Toronto, is a sports writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times)

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