WELLSBURG - A homecoming will be celebrated Friday night in Wellsburg.
However, a queen won't be crowned because it's a homecoming for St. Clairsville coach Brett McLean, who will bring his Red Devils to his alma mater for the first time in his career Friday night for a 7 p.m. kickoff. St. C. won the initial meeting of the two-year contract last season in Belmont County.
''I live only 35 minutes from Brooke County and I think I was only up there twice the entire summer,'' McLean said. ''I am excited to go back there, but it's going to be awkward to be on the other side (of the stadium).''
Brooke quarterback Alec Buchmelter, a third-year starter, figures to have his hands full with an aggressive St. Clairsville defense.
Photo by Alex Kozlowski
McLean and his coaches got a taste of the new-look Brooke Memorial Stadium last Friday when they scouted the Bruins' 35-34 loss to Parkersburg.
''We sat in the visitor bleachers last week, and I don't think I'd ever seen that view of the stadium before,'' McLean said. ''We're just going up there to try to win a football game. This isn't about me or anyone else. It's about the kids playing on the field.''
The Red Devils will make the trip after posting a 47-27 victory against Wheeling Park last Thursday at Wheeling Island Stadium.
''After scouting St. Clairsville live and seeing them on film, their athletic ability really stands out,'' rookie Brooke coach Sean Blumette said. ''Coach McLean has done a great job of taking advantage of his kids' athleticism to the point where you can't focus on one guy.''
Offensive firepower isn't expected to be a problem for the Red Devils this season.
''We just have to play sound, fundamental football and can't allow them to create explosive plays,'' Blumette said. ''We really can't afford to allow and one- or two-play touchdown drives. We must contain their speed as best we can, but I've heard it said 100 times, I'm not sure we can shut them down, but being able to slow them down is the big key.''
If the Bruins had to pick one guy to attempt to take away, Blumette feels it's junior speedster Jaylon Brown. Brown torched Wheeling Park for 150 yards rushing and four touchdowns. He affected the game with an interception return for a score and also a 60-yard kickoff return, which led to another score.
''We can't ignore any of their weapons,'' Blumette said. ''We must be ready for any of those kids to get their hands on the ball at any play.''
Included in the collection of Red Devils offensive weapons are quarterback Matt Kinnick, senior receivers Dan Monteroso and Jerrid Marhekfa and versatile junior Michael Ferns.
Ferns scored twice against Park and lined up at a bevy of spots, including running back and tight end.
The Bruins were dealt a setback last week when veteran leader Raleigh Mason was lost with an injury.
''It's tragic when you see a senior, or anyone for that matter, get hurt like that,'' McLean said. ''Brooke has a lot of talent still and there are certainly names that I recognize. The thing about Brooke County kids, they're always tough and hard-nosed.''
Brooke's offense is triggered by senior mainstay Alec Buchmelter at the quarterback spot. He passed for 322 yards and four touchdowns last week, utilizing seven different receivers.
''The focus is certainly on Buchmelter,'' McLean said. ''He's their vocal leader, heart and soul kid, who just plays with a lot of passion. He's kind of like a Tim Tebow of high school football because he's a hard runner, big, athletic kid who you've got to tackle well to bring down.''
His favorite target last week was junior Heath Hildreth, who caught eight passes.
The Red Devils' defense adjusted well to the Patriots running game in the second half and stymied Park. The Patriots had no first downs in the second half against St. C's first unit.
The defensive unit was led by Luke Smith, who had 12 tackles, and Ferns with 10 stops.