STEUBENVILLE - Three new opponents stand ready to challenge the Big Red football team during the 2012 season.
Reno Saccoccia, entering his 30th year, discussed the schedule and the upcoming campaign during the 16th annual Appreciation and Football Kickoff Dinner, sponsored by the Big Red Boosters, held Sunday at East Elementary School.
The new foes are:
Bishop Timon-St. Jude, located in Buffalo, scheduled to visit Harding Stadium on Sept. 7.
Pittsburgh Westinghouse, which will come to town Sept. 28.
The Blue Devils of Sir Wilfrid Laurier from Toronto, Canada, who will get their shot on Oct. 19.
Big Red will launch its campaign on Aug. 23 against the Tigers of Woodrow Wilson out of Washington, D.C. This will be the third meeting between the schools, each holding a victory in the series.
Saccoccia said the Tigers are similar to Akron Butchel, Big Red's Week 10 opponent on Oct. 26, when it comes to being a physical football team.
That game is the opener of a doubleheader at Harding Stadium and will kickoff at 6 p.m. Oak Glen will take on Edison approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion.
Cleveland Benedictine, which competes in the always-tough North Coast League, will provide the Week 2 opposition (Aug. 31). Big Red and the Bengals battled during the 1990 regular season, Steubenville earning a 13-12 win. Benedictine owns two playoff victories against the Red.
Ben Malbasa, the son of Big Red graduate Steve Malbasa, is entering his second season as head coach of the Cleveland school.
The rest of the schedule looks like this:
Sept. 14 Brooke; Sept. 21 at Massillon; Oct. 5 Ursuline; Oct. 12 at Morgantown.
"I think it is a pretty tough schedule for a Division III football team," Saccoccia said. "I also think, however, that our coaches and players will be up for the challenge."
The veteran coach, who introduced his 20 seniors during the event, noted Big Red's goal each year is "to be the best team in the state when the last bell rings."
"We've only been able to do that three times, but we've challenged every year," he said. "Our seniors now have the challenge of working to continue that."
Big Red finished the 2011 season at 11-1, dropping a heart-breaking 24-22 decision to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in the Region 11 semifinals.
Saccoccia also discussed the challenges faced by today's high school football players.
"The challenges are twice what they used to be," he pointed out. "Preparation begins in December and goes until the start of the season. Our challenges are now only the schedule, but getting to the playoffs. Then, we have the challenge of representing Steubenville against the best the state has to offer every year.
"Basically, today's players get no rest."
Looking toward the season, Saccoccia believes the 2012 Big Red has the opportunity to "have a real good team."
"If we perform the way I hope we can perform, we can have a real good team," he said. "It's going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice and a lot of effort for us to achieve that."
Practice begins on July 30.