STEUBENVILLE – Catholic Central to open second half of 2021 season by facing what coach Anthony Agresta considers “the best team on our calendar.”
The talented Barnesville Shamrocks will bring a 3-1 record to Harding Stadium on Saturday for the ninth all-time school meeting. Central leads the series 6-2. The teams last met in 2018, with the Crusaders claiming a 28-20 victory.
The kick is set at 7 p.m.
Central, 2-3, just lost 36-6 in Week 5 to undefeated Windham, while Barnesville rallied for a 41-21 triumph over River.
“Barnesville are the best team on our calendar – that’s how I see it”, said Agresta. “They are well balanced and make a good football team.
“We were all disappointed, the coaching staff and our kids, with our performance against Windham. There were some fundamental things that we worked on all week in training that we didn’t perform, especially at the start. As the game progressed, we started doing the things we were working on. And now, as God wills, you have to follow that up by taking on the toughest opponent on the calendar.
“It will test us – it will test who we are.”
The Shamrocks were trailing River 21-20 after a back-and-forth first half last week. They stepped up on both sides of the ball to claim the 41-21 victory.
Owyn Wise, a senior, had a big night for Barnesville, rushing for 143 yards, 98 in the second half. He had a scoring 6-yard run in the third quarter.
Another senior, Spencer Bliss, recorded a rare triple TD in the contest. Bliss scored on a 2-yard run, 58-yard reception and 82-yard kickoff return
“Spencer is our playmaker”, Barnesville coach Blake Allen said.
Bliss finished the game with seven receptions for 170 yards. He did a pair of rushes for 19 and even threw a 24-yard pass.
Barnesville’s catalyst was quarterback CJ Hannahs. The junior completed nine passes for 249 yards and two scores. He joined senior Chase Connor on a 66-yard pitch-and-catch.
“They are just a strong football team”, Agresta mentioned the Shamrocks. “They’re size up front and they have kids in skilled positions who can play. The quarterback is a good decision maker – he completes the passes he needs for them.
“Barnesville has been a solid program for a long, long time. We respect them and we are going to be challenged as a football team and challenged as individuals to see how we bounce back from a disappointing performance. “
Up front, Barnesville is led by two-way senior lineman Gavin Carpenter and Jadyn Lucas, also a two-way senior lineman. A third senior lineman, Avery Clouse.
In addition to the win over River, the Shamrocks, who went 6-3 a season ago and lost to Fort Frye in the regional semifinals, beat Buckeye Local (17-14) and Buckeye Trail (27-20 ). The only flaw is a 35-14 loss to undefeated Shadyside. Barnesville is currently ranked seventh in the Division VI, Region 23 standings.
Despite the loss to Windham, Central remains on the hunt for a place in the Division VII, Region 25 playoffs. Currently, the Crusaders are 18th (16 teams from each region will advance to the playoffs.)
“When we watched the movie, it was more of the missed missions and we were unruly that it was Windham’s physique,” said Agresta. “Don’t get me wrong Windham came in and they were very physical and made a good football team.
“It’s hard to be physical on your side when you’re not aligned appropriately and you’re not following your missions. It’s hard to be physical at this time. I think we would have matched their physique if we had been a little more disciplined at the start of the game.
In five games, Central’s offense has averaged 216 yards and 16 points. The defense allows 21 points per exit.
Junior quarterback Andrew Dorsey threw for 369 yards and two touchdowns. He made 35 of his 65 passing attempts.
Sophomore Tyler Ialenti is Dorsey’s leading receiver with 11 catches for 130 yards and one scoring. Freshman Tommy Pergi has eight receptions and junior Nico Petrella five.
Dorsey is the team’s leading running back with 321 yards on 68 trips. Junior Dashon Seditz had 214 yards on 66 carries. He scored four times.
As he looks forward to Saturday, Agresta has focused his team on two areas.
“There is no high school team in the world that is going to win a football game if, in terms of roster and duty, you don’t do what you have to do.” said Agresta. “These things will be our focus this week.”
From a health standpoint, Agresta said his crusaders were in fairly good shape.
Junior Tate McKenna, a three-year-old starter on the offensive line, could join the roster after missing the game against Windham.
Saturday’s game will mark the end of a five-game home streak for the Crusaders. They will travel to Conotton Valley on October 1 before entertaining Millersport on October 9. Central’s last two games will be in Madonna and Toronto.