Tigers look to avenge last year’s loss to St. Marys

JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times Marietta High’s Dominic Vanfossen carries the ball during a high school football game against Williamstown last Friday.

ST. MARYS — Let’s take two on the St. Marys’ football team’s home opener this week shall we?

Six days after Parkersburg Catholic couldn’t compete due to a lack of players, Jodi Mote and his squad finally get to run on to their home turf at 7 p.m. tonight at Bill Hanlin Stadium. The Blue Devils come into their home opener at 2-0, or exactly where they expected to be, after outscoring Wirt County and Ritchie County by a combined score of 93-6.

Head coach Jason Schob’s revamped Marietta Tigers await them on the opposing sideline, a team easily ranked in Class AA in West Virginia.

“Marietta is the first true test to see where we are at this season,” said Mote. “This is one of those games where you will battle and battle and it will be a four-quarter game for us. It is one of those games where you will see where you are at from a season perspective with your kids.”

Similar to their foes, the Tigers come in with an unbeaten record at 3-0.

They also have won in dominant fashion, including handing Williamstown a 49-14 setback inside Don Drumm Stadium last Friday night.

“I think the biggest thing is we were well rounded and put together four quarters,” said Schob when asked about the win over the Yellowjackets.

“I thought the first couple of weeks we played well either the beginning of the game or at the end of the game, but we didn’t string four quarters together, which is a big step to growing as a football team.”

Another full-contest effort is needed if they hope to pull off the road upset against a team averaging 40 points per game on its home turf the last six years between two stadiums.

“They have an explosive offense,” said Schob. “The Smith kid must be averaging 20-plus yards per carry and they probably average three of four plays per drive before they score. If we are going to be successful, we need to bottle up Dylan Gray and Smith as much as we can in the backfield. Gray runs hard out of the backfield any time he gets a chance.”

The Tigers’ fourth-year head man stressed his linebackers must be prepared and tackle well, because arm tackles aren’t going to bring down the Blue Devils’ two big runners out of the backfield.

If Schob and company do shut down the run, be prepared for players like quarterback Eric Illar, RB Matt Eichhorn, split end Dalton Houser, and tight ends Derek Smith to step up for the Blue Devils.

“I believe those guys are capable of making a big impact in the game if we need them too,” said Mote.

Of course, Marietta High also has a powerful attack led by quarterback Corbin Alkire and bruising rusher Dominic Vanfossen.

“Alkire is impressive as a sophomore,” said Mote. “Dominic stands at 5-10, 205 and it a great player. They are very, very talented offensively for sure. Defensively they are too and I think they would make the playoffs for sure in West Virginia.”

Though the Tigers lost a big chunk of experienced wide receiver depth, Mote is well aware of the talent they have coming back. Tanner Stack and Jermaine Burke are on SMHS defensive coordinator Jay Powell’s radar along with his secondary largely untested through the opening weeks of the season.

“They are the type of team where you could stop them two of three times on the passing play, but the third time is the one that kills you,” said the Blue Devils’ leader.

“I think it is going to be a great atmosphere,” said Schob when asked about the expected turnout at St. Marys’ first home contest. “I think one of the things that is going to help us is our league play. We travel to places like Dover, Zanesville, New Philly and Cambridge and they are all pretty hostile atmospheres. I think that will help us. Our kids just need to worry about what is going on on the field and no worry about the atmosphere and worry about what they need to do.”