By Tom Williams
Two quick strikes, line dominance and play-action trickery helped the Columbiana High football team avenge last year’s heart-breaking loss to arch-rival South Range.
“We should have won that game, so to be able to win this game by so much is amazing,” said Clippers running back Britton Steiginga after scoring two touchdowns in Friday’s 33-8 win over the Raiders. “It was so close last year.”
The 2010 Clippers-Raiders showdown was won 33-32 by South Range on a last-minute field goal. This year’s game was all-but-over 48 seconds into the second half when Steiginga broke free for a 53-yard touchdown and a 20-2 Columbiana lead.
“This year, we did our job, we read our keys,” Steiginga said. “We knew exactly what was coming at us.”
Columbiana’s linemen controlled for most of the contest, shutting down the Raiders’ running game.
Several times, Columbiana quarterback Austin Barbato had the Raiders defenders wondering who had the ball as his play fakes created confusion.
“We’ve got that fake down perfect,” said Steiginga, who said the officials weren’t immune. On one third-quarter play, Steiginga said “[running back Brandon] Hacker got tackled and they blew the whistle but Austin was still running.
“His fakes are so good that he’s faking out the refs.”
South Range coach Dan Yeagley was impressed.
“He runs the show, they’re 5-0,” Yeagley said. “Five teams have had a hard time defending him, he does a good job.”
Barbato led the Clippers (5-0, 2-0 Inter Tri-County League Tier One) with 22 carries for 186 yards while Hacker gained 106 yards on 16 tries.
“We had people in position at times and they didn’t make tackles,” Yeagley said of Barbato. “Some of that is his athleticism.”
Steve Slater put the Clippers in the driver’s seat on the Raiders’ third play from scrimmage. Slater intercepted Raiders quarterback Ross Stoffer’s pass and raced untouched 62 yards for a touchdown.
“I looked up and the ball was right in my hands,” Slater said. “It was awesome.”
Added Columbiana coach Bob Spaite: “We played extremely well. I’ve had more talented teams who haven’t been able to do this.”
Spaite credited tight end Trenton Solmen and linemen Nick Bacha, Steve Kurilla, Levui Dunlap, Hayden Sneltzer, Jacob Theil, Justin Hoffman and Jared Hill.
Stoffer’s second interception, this one by Barbato at the South Range 43, set up a seven-play drive capped by Steiginga’s 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal for a 14-2 lead.
Late in the third quarter, Joey Phillips scored a 2-yard touchdown for the Raiders (2-3, 1-1). The Clippers answered with scoring runs by Barbato and Hacker.