ST. CLAIRSVILLE - A lot of people were anxiously awaiting St. Clairsville's game against Martins Ferry for a real litmus test of just how good these Red Devils are.
The Red Devils passed with flying colors.
Snapping a four-game losing streak to the Purple Riders, Coach Brett McLean's Red Devils put themselves in position to capture their first 10-0 season since 2007 next week at Union Local by virtue of a convincing 47-13 victory.
St. Clairsville’s Jaylon Brown had a big second half against Martins Ferry.
''I am really proud of this senior group,'' McLean said. ''This win feels great, but like I said earlier in the week, I won't look in the rear-view mirror. We came out and had to play this group for ourselves and this season, so we're excited to have gotten it done.''
The victory clinches the Buckeye 8 title and further pushes the Red Devils toward wrapping up the top seed in the upcoming Division IV, Region 15 tournament and also the school's first OVAC football title since 1990.
''This team is desperate to finish this thing off next week with an undefeated regular season,'' McLean said. ''They're dying for it. We want to get sound practices this week, so we can hopefully go out and accomplish another goal that this group set for itself.''
The loss, meanwhile, drops the Purple Riders to 5-4 on the season and places them firmly on the Region 15 bubble for the postseason. They'll meet Bellaire in their annual Week 10 encounter at home next Friday.
''We need to continue to stress to our kids that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger,'' Purple Riders coach Dave Bruney said. ''Whatever it is, it is. If we can get a win next week and make it, it's great for the younger kids and fitting end for our seniors because they've been dealt some pretty tough blows this season.''
The Purple Riders - like basically every other team against St. C. - wanted to shorten the game as best they could by controlling the clock, getting first downs and keeping the Devils' offense on the sideline.
For the most part, it worked, but the Red Devils have the innate ability to score points in bunches without running many plays.
St. Clairsville built a 14-0 lead in the first eight minutes and both scores came on big plays. Two plays after St. C. converted a fourth down, senior quarterback Matt Kinnick found Dan Monteroso on a 21-yard strike. After forcing a Ferry punt, Kinnick found senior speedster Jerrid Marhefka for a 52-yard catch and run.
''They've (scored quickly) against everyone,'' Bruney said. ''They're able to do a lot of different things because they can get mismatches in so many places.''
Staying within itself, the Riders stuck with their game plan. They went on an 8-play drive that covered 52 yards. Eric Flowers did the brunt of the damage on straight keeper plays. He ran for gains of 17, 19 and 16 before capping the march from 2 yards out to slice the Devils' lead in half.
St. Clairsville made it 20-7 two possessions later as Jaylon Brown, who was hemmed up pretty well in the first half, scored his first touchdown of the night from 5 yards out.
In the second half, the Devils got Brown going and did so in a big way. He scored all four of St. C.'s touchdowns in the second half.
The first came on a 42-yard pass from Kinnick over the middle, followed by runs of 34, 43, and 16 to blow the game open en route to finishing with 155 yards on 17 carries.
Kinnick threw for 237 yards, while Monteroso caught five passes for 87 yards and Marhefka made two catches for 104.
Flowers led the Purple Riders with 21 carries for 117 yards.