"Roll Red Roll"
Way back since the days of old,
when the coal and steel was our gold,
were the men who sacrificed and bled,
for the mighty Steubenville Big Red.
Heros of a forgotten age, masked in soot & sweat,
led by a renegade,who was short on stature but tough as lead,
they called him "Punque", he was Coach Cartledge.
A national powerhouse was forged,
opponents were defeated & legends were born,
the marching bands and the pep rallies,
were heard from North End Field to Death Valley.
Sometimes if you listen real close,
you'll swear that you can hear the ghosts,
of Harry Wilson, and Calvin Jones,
of Cas Myslinsky jarring some bones.
Of Coach Hoyman's locker-room roar,
and Puck Burgwin running like no one before,
of Johnny Stojack to "Five-Yard-Gus",
of Mike Palmer in the 60's to the 70's Bob Rush.
Of all those who have donned the Crimson & Black,
who stood as proud and tall as the mill's smokestacks,
the memories may flicker & fade like a campfire light,
but they are always rekindled each fall Friday night.
And every year brings together a new group of young men,
who've worked since the final whistle of last season's end,
all with one common mission and the same goal:
to have their chance at glory and Roll Red Roll.
THE EARLY YEARS: 1900-1918
Steubenville began its long storied football tradition at the turn of the century, but there are accounts of the school fielding teams as early as 1885. The first recorded season came in 1900 with the Stubbers playing 3 games and finishing with 2 victories and a tie, while allowing no points. The very first game was played against cross-river rival Wellsburg in which Steubenville prevailed 5-0. The following early 20th century seasons were filled with numerous coaches and mixed results, but all that was about to drastically change.
THE CARTLEDGE ERA: 1919-1938
Charles "Punque" Cartledge took the reins of the fledging Steubenville program in 1919 and quickly turned it into a national powerhouse. Cartledge began transforming the schedule from that of a local flavor to one of a regional scope. Added to the mix were teams from Pittsburgh, Akron, Canton, Youngstown, and southeastern Ohio. Punque built his teams on defense, which was evident in 1925 as the Big Red completed its first ever undefeated, untied season going 10-0 and only allowing 6 points (Young. South was the only one to score); Big Red also captured its first State Championship this year. 1926 produced similar results as the Red finished at 9-0 and outscored their opposition 365-18, and again Steubenville was chosen as State Champions. Steubenville closed out the decade posting marks of 6-1-2, and 7-2-0.
1930 may go down as the most important year in Big Red history. A brand new battleground, Harding Stadium (AKA DEATH VALLEY), had been constructed next to the junior high school, and would replace Big Red's home for the last 30 years, the old North End Field. The stadium was christened against Pittsburgh Oliver with a resounding 39-0 victory. Pittsburgh Allegheny followed the next week and was sent back on route 22 with a 58-0 whipping. Week 3 had Columbus Central and a 45-0 victory, which was the first night game played in Steubenville. The fourth game was a showdown with perenial power Canton McKinley and Big Red pulled out a tough 7-0 win. Dayton Stivers, who had defeated Big Red the past 3 years, was the 5th triumph of the season 6-0. Big Red's first ever contest with Massillon was no contest as the Red won 19-0. Always tough Young. Chaney pushed the Stubbers to the limit, but Big Red prevailed 7-0. The final two games were blowouts against Columbus Aquinas, 33-0, and Ashtabula, 63-0. Steubenville had completed a 9-0 season while not allowing a single point. In fact Big Red went an incredible 17 straight games without being scored upon! The mythical State Championship was awarded to the Red for their remarkable season. 1931 produced similar results and saw the rise of Big Red's greatest player George "Puck" Burgwin. Burgwin finished the season with 2,126 yards rushing in 9 games; that's an average of over 236 yards PER GAME. He scored 30 touchdowns and also kicked extra points. Burgwin's career numbers are also astounding: 30 games, 5704 yards rushing, for an average of 190 yards per game, and 68 touchdowns, which is over 2 per game. During his 3 year Varsity career Big Red finished with a 25-1-0 record, the lone loss coming to Erie East, 19-14, in the finale of 1931. Despite the season ending loss, Big Red was again awarded the State Championship for the 4th time in 7 years.
1932 was another Burgwin-Cartledge show as Puck ran for 1,754 yards and Punque guided the Stubbers to an 8-0 campaign outscoring their foes by a count of 195 to 31. 1935 was Cartledge's last undefeated eleven as they rolled to an 8-0 record and tallied 258 markers to their oppositions 13. Victims of the '35 unit included: Columbus Central 25-0, Tiffin 24-6, Canton McKinley 6-0, Moosehart Ill. 26-0, Toledo Libbey 52-0, Erie East 33-0, Akron Garfield 50-7, and Dayton Springfield 42-0. Big Red shared the popular acclaim state championship with Massillon that season. Big Red continued to churn out juggernauts until the retirement of Cartledge in 1938. Cartlege left with 7 undefeated teams and a career record of 138-31-11 in 21 years. His teams outscored their opponents 3,772 to 870, which is an average victory margin of 21-5. The field house at the stadium is named in his honor.
THE WAR TORN 40'S: 1939-1948
Lacking the stability of Cartledge, the Steubenville program was in a see-saw effect throughout the 1940's. However, 1942 did produce one of the school's finest teams, as the unit ran off 9 wins vs one loss. Coach Brinker's squad reeled off wins vs Canton McKinley, Martins Ferry, and Alliance, while only falling at Massillon. Numerous coaching changes saw the Red deteriorate into an average team. But as the war ended and life resumed its normalcy, the Big Red machine was being rebuilt by Ray Hoyman.
HOYMAN'S BOYS: 1949-1963
Ray Hoyman, returning from his tour of duty, began his second stint as Big Red coach (he led the 1947 team to a 7-3 record) in 1949, and quickly restored pride in the Steubenville program. The 1951 squad featured the Ohio lineman of the year, Calvin Jones, who led the team to a 9-1 record, and saw Big Red named UPI State Champs; the lone loss coming to AP state champion Massillon. Another Ohio lineman of the year, Bill Kerr, sparked the 1953 team to an 8-1-1 mark. From 1954 to 1959 Big Red was led by Bill Abraham and Hal Paul who garnered a combined record of 28-31-1. Hoyman returned to the sidelines in 1960 and brought the Red back to respectability. The 1961 and 1962 editions were led by Ohio back of the year Harry Wilson, who rushed for 1,586 and 1,756 yards respectively. The 1962 team finished at 9-1, losing only to state champion Toledo Central Catholic 20-12 in week 9 after being number 1 for most of the year.
ENTER ABE BRYAN: 1964-1972
Abe Bryan was named coach of the Big Red in 1964, by 1965 he had the Red rolling again compileing an 8-2 mark. In 1965 and 1966 he also had Ohio back of the year Mike Palmer who led the 1966 team to a 9-1 mark, the only loss coming at Massillon 0-12, which many feel was the biggest upset loss in Big Red's history (the Tigers were a .500 team that year). Bryan's troops put up very impressive records at the height of the All American Conference, which was considered the toughest high school football league ever assembled. The league consisted of the Alliance Aviators, the Canton McKinley Bulldogs, the Massillon Washington Tigers, the Niles McKinley Red Dragons, the Steubenville Big Red, and the Warren
G. Harding Black Panthers, all of which had won state championships at one time or another. No doubt the brutal competition cost AAC teams many more state titles. Bryan stepped down after the 1972 season and left with a record of 59-30-1. In 1993 the pressbox at Harding Stadium was named in his honor.
THE DECLINE: 1973-1980
Steubenville experianced a major loss in population during the mid 70's, which resulted in falling enrollment at the high school. Tom Gardner coached two lackluster seasons in 1973 and 1974 going 9-11 overall. From 1975 to 1980 Big Red was led by Bill Bohren and Jerry Harris who together put together a 28-29-3 mark. The '76 team finished with a 7-2-1 record and narrowly missed out on a playoff birth if not for an upset loss to Canton Glen Oak in week three. Big Red outscored their opponents 212-46, while playing a very demanding schedule. 1979 saw the demise of the All American Conference, largely due to the loss of students at Big Red, Niles, and Alliance; but the Red compiled a fine 7-3 finish to close out the decade.
THE RESURRECTION: 1981-1999
In 1981 Steubenville turned to Robert Hedmond to turn around the fledging program. Hedmond had been an assistant under Abe Bryan and also a head coach at Brooke (WVA), and East Liverpool. Hedmond had immediate results guiding the Red to an 8-2 record and a first-ever birth in the Ohio playoffs. The 1982 edition finished with a 10-0 record, the first since 1935, and again landed in the playoffs against Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. Big Red lost that game 13-2, but throughly outplayed the Cardinals for most of the game and gained state-wide respect. Hedmond stepped down after the 1982 season, for health reasons, with a record of 18-4.
The Steubenville board of education made a controversial decision in 1983 hiring Reno Saccoccia as head coach. Many felt that their were other, more qualified candidates than Saccoccia, but by a narrow margin he was named successor to his old boss Hedmond. Saccoccia immediately proved all his critics wrong by guiding his rookie squad to a 10-0 record and another trip to the playoffs. But once again Steubenville was stopped by a Steel Valley League team, this time Youngstown Ursuline 13-0.
In 1984, Saccoccia led a "rebuilding" team to another 10-0 record. The victories were over Youngstown Rayen, 27-0; East Liverpool, 24-0; Columbus Marion Franklin, 34-6; Dover, 27-16; Toledo Devilbus, 26-0; Cambridge, 27-0; Wintersville, 28-26; Bellaire, 25-0; Youngstown East, 31-0; and Steubenville Catholic Central, 12-7. Once again Big Red entered the playoffs, and was matched against Young. Ursuline who had beaten Young. Cardinal Mooney the previous week 47-0. Nobody gave Big Red much of a chance, especially since the game would be played on Ursuline's home field of Stambaugh Stadium (YSU). But in a lightning storm, Big Red shocked the world and left Youngstown with an 8-0 win over a battered and bruised Ursuline team. The victory landed the Red in the state semi-finals against Westlake. At the Akron Rubber Bowl, Big Red dominated the Demons to the tune of 26-6, and charged into Columbus for a title match-up with another 12-0 team, Columbus Whitehall- Yearling.
On a crisp November day at Ohio Stadium the Big Red captured their first ever on the field state championship by defeating the Rams 12-9 in overtime. The team was captained by the Ohio lineman of the year, Charles Keenan.
The 1985 Big Red once again returned to the state semi-finals, but lost a heartbreaker to Young. Cardinal Mooney 18-16 on a last second field goal. The 85 team finished with a disappointing record of 10-3, which shows how high the standards were now set at 420 North 4th street. In 1986 Saccoccia led a green Big Red team to a surprising 10-0 mark and another berth in the playoffs. The following year Big Red returned to the state championship game, but lost to Akron Buchtel 26-14 after leading at halftime; the Red finished the year at 12-2. Dunyasha "Tubbo" Yetts put the 1988 team on his back and led them to another 10-0 season and playoff appearance. After 3 skintillating playoff wins, Big Red was back for a rematch with Akron Buchtel for the state championship. In a classic game Big Red finally went down to defeat 28-21 in double overtime. Yetts ended his career at Big Red with a 35-4 record, and close to 4,000 yards rushing. From 1989 through 1991 Steubenville reached the state semi-finals only to be disappointed each time. A record of 34-5 during that time still did not erase the pain of not reaching the ultimate goal. The 1989 team finished at 9-1 and went on to the playoffs. After a first round pounding of Minerva, Big Red faced North Canton Hoover in Fawcett Stadium. In one of the greatest comebacks in high school football history, Big Red, who was down 31-7 in the middle of the 3rd quarter, stormed back and won the game 37-31 in double overtime. The season ended the following week at the hands of Cleveland St.Joseph in the frigid Akron Rubber Bowl.
1990 saw the Red finish at 11-2, highlighted by a 26-7 playoff victory over rival Buckeye Local and then a thrilling 10-7 victory over Lake before bowing out to Columbus DeSales 0-13. The 1991 team, which finished 10-0, was led by Ohio lineman of the year Nate Burress, and checked out at 12-1 after falling to Lake 18-7 in Canton. 1992 saw the Big Red lose 2 regular season games for the first time since 1985, and also ended Big Red's record run of 11 straight playoff appearances. The following years 9-1 record also was not good enough for a post season birth in the tough region 7. The 1994 Big Red was one of the most talented teams ever assembled at the high school. Quarterbacked by record setter Jason Vein, who threw for 1,712 yards with 20 touchdowns, the Red rolled through the regular season at 10-0 and outscored their opponents 372 to 107. Tailback/linebacker Nate Johnson rushed for 1,610 yards, for 7.6 yards per carry and 28 touchdowns. Johnson was named Ohio defensive player of the year. Big Red once again reached the state semi-finals only to blow a 21-0 lead to West Branch and lose 31-28. In 1995 Big Red was hurt by injuries and after starting off at 4-0, finished with a 7-3 count. It also marked the first time since 1957 that the defense did not post at least one shutout; and the offense was shutout for the first time since 1983. The 1996 season ended with a 8-2 record, but not enough computer points for the post season. 1997 had the Red at 7-3 and marked the worst loss since 1981, a 38-0 loss at Chardon. 1998 was Big Red's first losing season since 1980; the Red wrapped it up at 4-6. Four of the six losses came after Big Red held the lead at the half.
1999 saw Big Red return to the Ohio lime-light as the Red finished the regular season at 8-2. Playoff victories came over Beaver Local and West Holmes before Big Red lost a heart-breaker to eventual state champ Poland 23-21. '99 marked the first time in the schools history that two backs gained 1,000 yards in the same season; not only did Vinnie West and Brian Benton reach 1,000, they both well surpassed it. West ran for 1,933 yards and finished his career with 3,615, and Benton added 1,301 in his junior season. Another junior, Todd Filtz, also set a standard by recording the most tackles in a season with 117. Senior qb Matt Vein passed for 1,102 yards, which was his second 1,000 yard passing season. Big Red's victory over West Holmes marked the school's 600th all time, and put the Red in the elite company of only four other Ohio high schools.
New Century-Same Tradition: 2000-Present
The new decade started with Big Red attempting to make the playoffs back to back for the first time since 1991, but an upset home loss to Chillicothe, a last second loss at Chardon, and a turnover infested loss to East Liverpool in a mudfest put that in serious jeopardy. The Red's only hope was a week 10 showdown with undefeated Niles McKinley...in which the men of 420 pulled off 14-2. Other notable wins included a nice victory over Boardman and a trouncing of Central.
The season opener of 01 was one of the highest-scoring and exciting openers in the history of Death Valley, unfortunatly for the Red an inadvertant whistle spoiled the galant comeback and SHS started out 0-1 for the first time since 1989's upset loss to Youngstown East. But the team showed true character by bouncing back with a 15-0 victory over the Brooke Bruins in a long anticipated matchup. Another gut-check came after humiliating loss at Boardman, but once again the Red responded with 5 straight victories to close out the season at 8-2. SHS garnered the top spot in the region and had the task of hosting a Columbus DeSales team that was peaking at the right time. The Stallions came into Death Valley and handed the Crimson and Black a first round defeat in a driving rain storm.
2002 commenced with the Stubbers hosting Ashtabula for the 1st time since the opener of 1976. Ashtabula Lakeside left with similar results after taking a trouncing of 55-6. It was later discovered, and reported to the OHSAA by the Big Red Athletic Departement that the Red had inadvertanly used an ineligible player during the last minute of the game, and a forfeit was issued. This put the team up against the wall and made each contest that much more important. Answering the bell the squad won 8 of its 9 other games and once again was back in the post season. The opening playoff game had Big Red hosting Hubbard, another team that hadn't been faced since the early 80's. SHS grinded out a 20-7 win over the game Eagles and advanced to the 2nd round. In the regional semifinals at Canton Central Catholic, Big Red hooked horns with Cleveland Benedictine. Big Red and Bennie had only met one other time with the boys in black pulling out a 13-12 victory in 1990. This game didn't disappoint as the two state powers went toe to toe for 48 minutes and 3 OT's before the Bengals great FG kicker sailed one through the uprights for a 20-17 game winner. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but it set the tone for the years to come that Big Red was back in the big time.
The 2003 edition of the Mighty Big Red had high hopes attached to them as they entered the season. There was a good nucleus returning from the previous year and a lot of weapons to put up some points. The big early season test featured a game with Youngstown Ursuline, the first meeting since the regional final of 1984. The Red didn't let the home crowd down as they marched down the field on the final drive of the game to snag a 19 to 16 victory. Big Red went on a roll to reel off 9 straight and needed a win in week 10 over D1 Middletown to complete the first perfect regular season since 1994. Big Red prevailed and sailed in the post-season as the top seed in the region and as AP State Champions. Steubenville High hosted the John Glenn Little Muskies in the opening round at Death Valley and scored TD's on it's first two offensive plays...the game was basically over from that point. The second round featured the game of the decade in the OVAC pitting Big Red vs. Beaver Local. Both teams entered Austintown Fitch's Falcon Stadium with 11-0 records. A huge crowd saw the teams trade blows back and forth, but Big Red had too much for the Beavers in the end and advanced with a 28-21 victory. The regional final was another contest against an undefeated team..the Canal Fulton Northwest Indians. Northwest was champions of the NBC and had a potent offense, but the Big Red D came up big and posted a 28-0 shutout at famed Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The victory was costly though as a few key components went down with injuries. In the state semi's awaited the Benedictine Bengals, who elmininated the Red in triple OT the year before. This game was also at PBTS, but things didn't go as smoothly this week as the Bengals handled the Red and once again ended the season in one of those games where everything that could go wrong, did. The 03 team got Big Red back to the state semi-finals though and put a taste in the mouths of the younger players that they could build on in the future years.
As 2004 rolled around the expectations were as always at 420 North 4th...high. The Red had some talented players returning at key positions from the 03 state semi-final team. The season started with a route of Cleveland JFK which set up an early season big-game roadtrip to Youngstown State University to face Ursuline. The Red completely dominated the game and handed the Irish a 24-8 defeat. The Big Red was off and running again as they steamrolled their next 3 opponents. Week 6 was homecoming, which is usually reserved for a weak foe, but Buffalo St Joes brought a fine team that gave SHS everything they could handle in a 15-7 victory. Following that was 4 straight victories to close out another 10-0 season and another AP State Championship. The playoffs began with Reno's Gang hosting an ole nemisis...the West Branch Warriors. These two programs had not met since the 1994 thriller in which the Warriors derailed what everyone thought was a sure championship team. Big Red took care of business and won the game, but it was costly as QB Angelo Magnone went down with an ankle injury. The following week was a trip to Tornado Land (Dover) and a matchup with Thornville Sheridan..another team not faced since 1994. The Generals came to play though and took advantage of Big Red's injury problems and costly turnovers as the Red ended the season on the losing end of a 22-18 game.
2005 opened with much anticipation of the lid-lifter with old foe Akron Buchtel, a school only faced two times in history...the State Title games of 87 and 88..both heart-breaking losses. Big Red broke open a tight game at the half and rolled to the victory. That set the tone for routs of DC Dunbar and Wheeling Park, and set up another match up with Ursuline. The Red overwhelmed the Irish by the score of 35-0 and got ready for a very good Buffalo St Joes team. Big Red found itself down in the St. Joe's game numerous times but came storming back time after time and finally came away victorious by a 35-28 margin. After such a gut-wrenching performance Big Red had to get back up for the invading Akron St. Vincent Fighting Irish the following week. Big Red looked sluggish and fell behind 14-0 with about 7 minutes remaining in the contest. In another story-book comeback Big Red marched down the field on the final two drives of the game to force OT. In the extra session the Big Red D came up huge with an interception to end the game with a 21-14 victory. That game it seems catapulted SHS for the remainder of the season, finishing off the undefeated season with wins over Zanesville, East Liverpool, Canton Central Catholic, and Youngstown Rayen. It was now playoff time again, and Death Valley played host to Beaver Local. Big Red and Beaver battled in a classic playoff game in 03, but this one was all Red as Reno's Crew handed the Beavers a 34-7 defeat. Next up was another playoff foe from 03, the Canal Fulton Northwest Indians. The site was Austintown Fitch Falcon Stadium, and a huge crowd gathered on a frigid night to see what many considered the two best teams in Division 3. The teams traded blows in the first half and went to the locker room knotted at 6, but Big Red dominated the 2nd half with big plays and big hits and won going away 20-6. The Regional final was in Canton's Fawcett Stadium vs. a newcomer to the Big Red history, the Licking Valley Panthers. LV had an excellent playoff history of their own and came into the game with an unblemished mark. This was a KO from the start though as Steubenville struck early and often and throttled the Panther offense. With the 33-7 victory Big Red was back in the state semi finals....and awaiting was week one opponent, the Akron Buchtel Griffins. Fawcett was once again host, and the weather was once again cold and snowy. Big Red didn't let the weather slow them down though as they spurted out to a halftime lead and then coasted home for a berth in the State Title game, the first since 1988. Awaiting the Red in Massillon's Paul Brown Tiger Stadium was another old foe: The Columbus DeSales Stallions. Big Red and DeSales had met in the playoffs 4 times previously with each school netting 2 victories. On a cold, snow-driven, gray morning the two locked horns once again. As the rabid Big Red crowd gathered on the home side of PBTS you could feel the anticipation of a State Title in the air. The two state powers traded jabs in the opening half, but went to the locker room still at zero apiece. The second half witnessed Big Red taking over and asserting its dominance. As the scoreboard counted down to 0:00 it showed the Red with a commanding 28-7 lead and the State Championship hardware that had been relentlessly chased since 1984. The Big Red Nation was in all it's glory as the team and coaches celebrated on the field. The fans also gave a rousing welcome to the team back at Death Valley to honor the 2005 Division 3 State Champions.
The target was placed firmly on the chests, both figuratively and literally, of the Red in 2006 as the Defending State Champions. The season opened with a much anticipated rematch with the Griffs of Akron John Buchtel High. Big Red had defeated the Griffs in last year's opener and also ended their season on the snowy turf of Fawcett Stadium in the State Semifinals. Buchtel came out in their usual taunting pregame mode trying to intimidate Steubenville, but once the game got started it was clear who was doing the intimidating. Big Red took care of the Griffs 22-6 to start on the path of Back To Back. The next game featured a new foe on the slate as Gonzaga, a large private DC area school, came to Death Valley. The Zags played Reno's troops tough, but eventually SHS pulled away for a 27-7 victory. A rare meeting with a county school materialized in week 3 as the Edison Wildcats came to town. This game was no contest as the Big Red steamrolled their Jefferson County brethren 45-19 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. Game 4 was the first road contest of the season which featured a trip to YSU's Stambaugh Stadium to take on the Ursuline Irish. Big Red broke open a close first half game and won going away 36-14. The Homecoming contest of week 5 was versus the team that gave Big Red its toughest game in the 05 State Champ season...the Buffalo St. Joes Marauders. St. Joes brought back a good bit of talent from that team, but lost their do it all QB. The Big Red defense held the Marauders in check and the offense put 4 scores on the board for a 29-13 triumph. At the midway point the Red stood undefeated and primed for another run.
Another difficult opponent from the 05 season was the Irish of Akron St. Vincent St. Marys, and this time it would be on the road. Green Street Stadium welcomed the throngs of Big Red faithful that made the trip, and actually turned it into a sea of red and black. The team didn't disappoint as they played their best game of the year to date and left the Rubber City with an eye opening 41-14 victory. The next two games featured OVAC rivals Wheeling Park and Beaver Local. Neither game was very competitive as the scores showed...61-7 and 36-0. Canton CC was back for the week 9 tilt and the Big Red GATA D rose up and posted another shutout by a 33-0 count. The regular season came to a close with an old foe coming to Death Valley for Senior Night, the Baltimore Mt. St. Joseph's Gaels. Big Red did what they needed to do in this rain soaked affair and completed their 4th straight undefeated regular season. It was now the time that counts...PLAYOFF TIME!
John Glen provided the first opposition on the road to repeat. The Little Muskies found out once again that coming to The Ville in hopes of a W is a daunting task. Big Red rolled in round one 26-10 while getting everyone valuable playing time. Round 2 was a matchup with highly touted Canton South, who had numerous D1 recruits. This game took place in Alliance's Mount Union Stadium, a place Big Red had not visited since the old days of the All American Conference back in the late 70's. Reno's Crew took no prisoners as the defense stood tall in a 28-6 conquest. The Regional Final matchup was a game that everyone looked forward to for years, as Dover worked their way through the other side of the bracket. The game, at Fawcett Stadium, lived up to the hype as big plays, big hits, and big hearts decided this high noon affair. After the dust settled Big Red was on their way to the State Semifinals with a 33-30 victory. Back at Fawcett for the semi's, the Red faced a newcomer to the playoff scene, as the Aurora Greenmen surprisingly came out of Region 9. Big Red proved to be too much for the newcomers as the Red cruised over the Green 48-13. Now Big Red was back where they wanted to be...the turf of Paul Brown's Tiger Stadium! In the way of repeating as State Champions stood the Kettering Alter Archbishop Knights, who also entered the contest unblemished. The first half saw the Red jump out to a commanding lead and at the intermission looked to be in total control. A few miscues though brought the Knights charging back into the game, but the defense made a huge stop when they had to, and the offense ground out a first down as the seconds evaporated. Big Red had won back to back State Championships!
The seniors of 07 were left with the task of not only defending back to back state titles, but also protecting a 30 game winning streak. The opener had a little special appeal with Indian Creek, formerly Wintersville, in the slot. A packed stadium watched as the Redskins were dismantled in every phase of the game. Akron Buchtel provided the opposition in openers past, but this time it would be game two. Big Red handled the Griffs for the 4th straight time by the tune of 20-6. Easy wins over East Liverpool, Buff. St. Joes, and Beaver Local led up to the showdown with Columbus Watterson. Big Red and Watterson last met in the 1987 Regional Final in Zanesville. A large enthusistic crowd witnessed the Red pull out a 23-14 conquest. A closer than expected battle with Baltimore Mt. St. Joes followed, as well as the yearly trouncing of Wheeling Park that set up the battle of unbeatens. Both Big Red and Canton Central Catholic entered the game at 8-0. In an Instant Classic Big Red rallied from a few scores down late in the game to pull within 6 with a minute left. QB Dwight Macon guided the team down the field. On the games final play with .01 showing on the clock, he found Jeremy Banks in the endzone to tie the game. Brandon Stover drilled the extra point and Big Red left Canton with a thrilling 35-34 victory. No time to rest however as another unbeaten, riding a 25 game winning streak would invade Death Valley, in the form of the Hawks of Tonawanda New York Cardinal O'Hara. In a hard fought contest, Big Red pulled out a 19-14 win and finished another undefeated regular season.
Playoff time was in the air once again, and Big Red, in its first year ever in Division 4, matched up with the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Royals in the home playoff opener. The Royals kept things interesting, but the Red wore them down and coasted to a 28-10 win. This set the stage for a rematch with Canton Central Catholic. The teams clashed just 3 weeks prior in Canton, but this time the venue would be Austintown Fitch's Falcon Stadium. Big Red would make sure they didn't need any last second heriocs however as Macon had another fantastic game in leading the Stubbers to a 44 to 29 victory. The Regional Final was now set for Canton's Fawcett Stadium vs the nationally ranked Youngstown Cardinal Mooney Cardinals. Big Red fell behind early in this game due to some big plays by the Cards, but fought till the end in dropping a 35-20 clash. Though disappointed with the outcome, the stage was set for a big run in 08.
2008 once again opened with a rout of county rival Indian Creek, and set up a pivitol game with the Griffs of Akron Buchtel. Big Red dominated the Griffins and then reeled off victories over East Liverpool, Buffalo St. Joes, and Beaver Local before hitting the road to Columbus to dish out some capital punishment on Watterson. The regular season concluded with wins over Park, at Poland, Wheeling Central, and Cardinal O'Hara.
The playoffs welcomed a new foe to the slate as Coshocton qualified in the 8th spot and made the trip east to Death Valley. Big Red prevailed which set up a rematch with the Youngstown Cardinal Mooney Cardinals...same place, same time. Big Red was amped and prepared as they sent the Cards packing in a dominating 28-16 win, which was worse than the score indicated. The regional final was next as the Perry Pirates, from Northeast Ohio came out of the other bracket, in a contest played before a large crowd at Warren's Legendary Mollenkopf Stadium. The Big Red didn't let it's throng of fans down as they wore down the Pirates 35-17 to advance to the state semifinals. New Lexington came out of Region 15 to match up with the Red at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon. As the snow fell, the Big Red battered and bruised the Panthers on the way to a convincing win...a win that would set up a title rematch with the Kettering Bishop Alter Knights. The Championship game was staged in Fawcett Stadium, home of the McKinley Bulldogs, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A cold, crisp day, witnessed Alter getting their revenge as they shut down Big Red's high powered offense and came away with a 21-6 win.