TRI-COUNTY LEAGUE Columbiana has 5-0 record after Clippers defeat Tigers
The Clippers are ranked ninth is this week's poll of Ohio's Division VI teams.
By JOHN BUTERA
WELLSVILLE -- At the start of the football season, talk around the Tri-County League seemed to be about every team except Columbiana.
The Clippers have enjoyed their anonymity, but those days are over. Friday's win over Wellsville gives the Clippers records of 5-0 and 2-0 in the league.
"We had to fight hard down here," said Columbiana coach Bob Spaite, whose Clippers are rankedNo. 9 is this week's Associated Press poll of Ohio's Division VI teams.
The Clippers also are ranked second in the Region 21 computer playoff rankings.
Columbiana used the powerful rushing game of Joey Winters, some big passing plays and a solid defense to prevail over the TCL's newest member.
"I know a lot of people didn't think we would be 5-0, but Coach Spaite pushed so hard in camp that we came together as a team," Winters said.
The Clippers completed a 90-yard drive late in the first quarter when Joe Kornack caught a 10-yard pass from Mike Welce, shook off a couple of tacklers, then raced 65 yards for a touchdown.
Columbiana's next possession was just as successful, as the Clippers needed just two plays to cover 69 yards.
Aftere a 24-yard completion to Winters, Welce again hooked up with Hornack on a 45-yard TD strike to give the Clippers a 14-0 margin at halftime.
Columbiana could have put the game away as a Clipper dropped a sure-scoring pass minutes before halftime.
The Clippers finally put the contest away when Winters tallied on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter to make it 21-0. During the drive, Winters had runs of 13, 5, 12 and 8 yards.
Winters completed the scoring when he tallied on a 1-yard run to make it 28-0.
Welce completed 6-of-11 passes during the contest for 166 yards, and Winters gained 119 yards on 29 rushes.
"I liked our chances," Winters said. "Tonight, we were excited, but we knew we had to play hard to shut them down."
Things could have gone differently for the Tigers had they taken advantage of a turnover in the first quarter. Justin Warner returned an interception 53 yards to the Clippers' 14-yard line, and a penalty on the play gave Wellsville a first and goal at the 7.
Four plays later, the Tigers came up empty as Wellsville slipped to 3-2 and 0-2.
"Holding them when they had a first and goal was huge," Spaite said. "In fact that was a major turning point because they had so much momentum coming in, and a score would have given them even more."
Defensively, the Clippers didn't allow the Tigers much. That was shown in the final statistics, as Columbiana dominated with a 355-60 advantage in total offense.