STEUBENVILLE — Catholic Central coach Anthony Agresta said during the week his team’s matchup with Millersport Saturday night at Harding Stadium was a must-win game, and it was clear from the get-go that his Crusaders got the message.
Central, which entered the game on a three-game skid and on the outside looking in of the Division VII, Region 25 playoff picture, scored touchdowns on each of its first five possessions and six of its first seven turns with the football on its way to a key 41-8 route of the visiting Lakers.
Until the subs came in the fourth quarter, the only Crusader drive not to reach the endzone was at the end of the first half when the second quarter clock expired with Central in the red zone.
“This was one we needed,” Agresta said. “We felt like we were well prepared for it and we were able to run and throw the ball. I’m pleased with the victory, I’m happy for our kids and I’m happy for our seniors to get a win in out last home game of the year.
“Truth be told we feel we played well enough to win the last two weeks. We kind of felt like we let one get away from us last week at Conotton Valley.”
Dashon Seditz led a Central (3-5) ground attack that racked up 240 yards and all six Crusader touchdowns, racking up 110 yards and four six-pointers on 15 carries. He averaged 7.3 yards per carry, and the Crusaders as a team netted better than seven yard per tote.
“He had a great night running the ball,” Agresta said of the junior tailback. “He did clean up on some things where Ialenti and some other guys did a lot of work to get down there, but Dashon has a nose for the goal line and he knows how to level off and score.”
Ialenti ran for 55 yards and a score and hauled in two Andrew Dorsey (4 of 8, 71 yards, 37 rushing yards) passes for another 37 yards, while Timmy Lamantia, one of Central’s four seniors in the lineup Saturday, found the endzone on one of his two carries for 18 yards.
The win, according to Joeeitel.com’s unofficial rankings, moved the Central into the 16th and final playoff spot in Region 25 with two games remaining. The official computer ratings from the Ohio High School Athletic Association are released Tuesday.
Central got off to a quick start, as it took the opening kick and marched nine plays and 70 yards for the game’s first points, Seditz crossing the goal line from 4 yards out to make it a 7-0 lead.
The Central defense, which held Millersport (2-4) to -1 rushing yard and just 94 total yards in the game, forced a punt, and three plays later Seditz was again celebrating in the endzone to make it 14-0 after the first quarter.
“Other than struggling a little bit with their tight end, our defense did a real good job,” Agresta said.
A 29-yard Dorsey to Tommy Pergi strike set up the 2-yard run.
It looked as though the Lakers were starting to get something going as they crossed into Crusader territory, but the first of three lost fumbles put an end to the drive.
“Three turnovers in the first half hurt,” Millersport head coach Jack Treinish said. “We are young, we didn’t have a program (the last three years), but these kids don’t quit. The injury bug got us (Saturday) a little more than usual.”
Eight plays later, after a long Ialenti touchdown run was called back by a penalty, Seditz again crossed the goal line from 4 yards away to make it 20-0 (the kick was blocked after a bad snap).
The Crusaders blocked a Millersport punt for a short field, and this time Ialenti capped the ensuing drive with a 5-yard scoring run to make it 27-0.
After another Millersport fumble, Lamantia made it a 34-0 Crusader lead at the intermission capping a four-play drive with a 17-yard run into the endzone, setting up the entire second half to be played with a running clock.
After Peyton Rauch recovered a fumble that ended another promising Lakers drive to start the third quarter and returned it deep into the Williamsport end, three plays later Seditz ended his night in the endzone with a 2-yard plunge.
Millersport did get on the board in the fourth quarter, as quarterback Trey Johnston connected with
Trevor Treinish for a 21-yard score and then with Tyler Hall for a conversion.
“These kids won’t quit,” coach Treinish said. “These kids could roll right over, but they don’t. We’ve been beat before, this is our fourth loss, but they don’t give up.
“It was nice for us to put some points on the board.”
SENIOR SEND OFF
The Crusader seniors were playing their final games at Harding Stadium Saturday night, as Central ends the regular season with two big road games and does not appear to be in contention for a home playoff game.
The five on the roster were Primo Toriscelli, Lamantia, Antonio McGinnis, Caleb Lathem and Massimo Lancia, of which four were dressed on Saturday.
“We don’t have a lot of them, only four right now, and one of them (McGinnis) has a labrum tear and only gets to kick,” Agresta said. “When you’re a small senior group and you are playing with a lot of young kids around you and relying on those young kids to help you win, it’s hard.
“It’s hard to stay focused and hard to stay up If you go through a couple tough weeks, but those seniors have done that all year and I’m very proud of them.”
BIG GAMES AHEAD
The Crusaders end the season with two important games on the road, staring with a trip to take on 4-2 Madonna at Jimmy Carey Stadium on Friday night. The Blue Dons would be considered a fellow Division VII school by Ohio standards.
Following the meeting with Madonna, Central will travel up state Route 7 to face Toronto in a game that could be a win-and-in scenario for both teams. Unofficially after a narrow 19-16 win over Madonna Friday, the Red Knights sit 14th in Division VII, Region 25.
“Absolutely, we have two big ones in front of us,” Agresta said. “The next one puts us back in, that’s how I’m looking at it.”
Catholic Central 41, Millersport 8
Millersport 0-0-0-8 — 8
Catholic Central 14-20-7-0 — 41
CC: Seditz 4 run (McGinnis kick) 8:41
CC: Seditz 2 run (McGinnis kick) 6:02
CC: Seditz 4 run (kick blocked) 10:55
CC: Ialenti 5 run (McGinnis kick) 7:50
CC: Lamantia 17 run (McGinnis kick) 4:39
CC: Seditz 2 run (McGinnis kick) 3:18
M: Treinish 21 pass from Johnston (Hall pass from Johnston) 4:09
RUSHING: Millersport 20-(-1) (Reynolds 5-8; Smith 7-6; Johnston 6-(-24); Kronenbitter 1-1; Blosser 1-8); Catholic Central 34-240-6TD (Fallon 1-5; Seditz 15-110-4TD; Dorsey 3-37; Ialenti 6-55-TD; Lamantia 2-18-TD; Rusciano 6-15; Toriscelli 1-(-1).
PASSING: Millersport 8-17-95-TD (all by Johnston); Catholic Central 4-9-71 (Dorsey 4-8-71; Ialenti 0-1).
RECEIVING: Millersport 8-95-TD (Treinish 5-85-TD; Hall 1-4; Reynolds 2-6); Catholic Central Ialenti 2-37; Pergi 1-29; Petrella 1-5).
FIRST DOWNS: Millersport 8; Catholic Central 16.
PENALTIES-YARDS: Millersport 11-75; Catholic Central 7-80.
FUMBLES-LOST: Millersport 5-3; Catholic Central 2-0.
PUNTS-AVERAGE: Millersport 4-24.5; Catholic Central 2-13.5.