Blue Devils hope semifinal experience is difference maker
Among the Division VII final four football teams, it’s a no-brainer which have the richest history.
The Maria Stein Marion Local and Delphos St. John’s high school teams are enjoying their 16th playoff appearances. They each have six state championships to go along with a state runner-up finish.
St. John’s has an overall postseason record of 52-9 while Marion Local’s is 51-9.
And then there’s Western Reserve and Glouster Trimble. They have a combined 18 state playoff appearances; a combined 15-16 postseason record; and a combined zero state titles and state runner-up finishes.
Tonight at 7, Western Reserve and Trimble will face off in St. Clairsville. The winner will met the Marion Local-St. John’s winner next week.
The one thing the Blue Devils have that the Tomcats don’t is “final four” experience. Two years ago, Western Reserve (13-0) was eliminated in the Div. VI state semifinals and haven’t forgotten that feeling.
The Blue Devils will try and avenge that loss and advance to uncharted territory in the OHSAA playoffs.
The good news for the Blue Devils is they don’t have to play either of the state powers this round.
While Marion Local and St. John’s clash for the right to perhaps add a seventh state championship trophy, the Blue Devils and Tomcats will play for the biggest win in their history.
Trimble (13-0) finished unbeaten in the Tri-Valley Conference and out-scored its opponents 543-69 on the season.
In eight of their 13 games, the Tomcats shut out their opponents — including a 61-0 rout of Beallsville in the first-round of the playoffs.
The next round provided more resistance as Steubenville Catholic Central scored the most points the Tomcats had allowed all season, but fell 27-22.
Last week, Shadyside took a seven-point lead into the half, only to have Trimble score 14 unanswered points to win 21-14.
As for Western Reserve, who also finished the regular season and Inter Tri-County League play unblemished, its trip to the semifinals was sealed with an incredible defensive performance in a 22-2 victory over Norwalk St. Paul.
That result was preceded by a 31-26 come-from-behind win over Danville and a 45-19 first-round victory against Garfield Heights Trinity.