Redmen must slow down Red Devils

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Rock Hill Redmen may want to build a few speed bumps on the Red Devil Stadium field.

St. Clairsville, 10-0 for the first time in 23 years, will throw a wide-open attack buoyed by speed at the Redmen (7-3) when the teams meet at 7 p.m. Saturday in St. Clairsville to open the Region 15 Division IV playoffs.

“They’re extremely fast and very physical,” said Rock Hill coach Todd Knipp. “They’re the best team by far we’ve seen all year by speed alone.

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“I told our kids athlete-wise they remind me a lot of Fairland. They’ve got guys everywhere who can make plays and can run.”

Although St. Clairsville has a decisive speed advantage, Knipp said “every team we’ve played this year was faster than us.”

Rock Hill has some speed of its own, mainly in running back Wes Pierson. The senior has rushed for 1,187yards this season on 187 carries — a 6.7 yards per carry average — and scored 19 touchdowns. He led the team with 18 receptions for 156 yards.

Seth Kuehne had 11 catches for the Redmen for a team-high 206 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Drew Kuehne was 57 of 104 for 736 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted eight times.

St. Clairsville tries to spread the ball around but the main weapon is quarterback Anthony Vincent. The senior has 765

yards rushing on 131 carries with 12 touchdowns.

He has completed 59 percent of his passes, hitting 69 of 117 for 893 yards and 13 touchdowns with just four picks.

“Their quarterback is a heck of an athlete. He causes a lot of problems for your defense,” said Knipp.

Running back Kurtis Cullen had 784 yards on 124 attempts with seven TDs.

Wingback Dustin Hynes had rushed 38 times for 467 yards and six scores while leading the team with 31 receptions for 482 yards and nine touchdowns. He had two TD catches in a 21-7 win over Wheelersburg.

Knipp said the Redmen must establish ball control to slow down the Red Devils’ offense.

“We need to keep them off the field. We want to take the approach some teams did to us. Just keep the ball and hopefully catch a break,” said Knipp.

Up front the Red Devils feature tackles Jake Antolak (6-3, 230) and Anthony Skrabek (6-2, 235). Trenton Soukup (5-10, 195) is the center with Shane Gray (5-7, 230) and Cody McKeever (5-11, 235) the guards. All are seniors except Soukup who is a sophomore.

The tight ends are Zane Butler (6-2, 195) and Layne Mehl (6-2, 205), son of former Penn State and New York Jets tight end Lance Mehl who is a St. Clairsville assistant coach.

‘Their two tackles are pretty good. Their offensive line gets off the ball well and gets into their blocks,” said Knipp.

“We have to come out and be physical on both sides of the ball and eliminate mental mistakes.”

St. Clairsville uses a 4-4 alignment on defense led by linebackers John Earliwine (5-7, 200) and Kurtis Cullen (5-9, 155) along with Butler at defensive end.

Earliwine had 95 tackles — 10 for losses — and 11 quarterback sacks. Cullen had 80 tackles and two interceptions while Butler had 75 tackles and 10 sacks.

“They like to bring heat with their linebackers. Their front wall gets up the field well. They like to cause havoc in the backfield and their secondary flies around and gets to the ball,” said Knipp.

Playing at St. Clairsville means the Redmen will have about a four and one-half hour trip. Knipp doesn’t expect the long miles to take a toll on his team.

“Our kids have handled playing on the road all year. They kids are excited about playing another game,” said Knipp.