ST. CLAIRSVILLE - If anyone thought St. Clairsville's matchup against Renaissance Christian Academy on Friday night was going to be a cakewalk, it wasn't Red Devils coach Brett McLean and his staff.
McLean's beliefs about the Rising Tide came to fruition as the non-conference tilt at Red Devil Stadium came down to the final moments before the home team emerged victorious, 27-20.
''They have a very talented team and I didn't overlook them and neither did this locker room,'' McLean said.
''I don't know if people believed it when we said this team was as good as it was. We scouted them, so we knew. They have six or seven kids that are getting recruited and they showed it.''
Jaylon Brown rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns for the Red Devils (3-0). That performance offset the stellar one put forth by the Tide's Troy Simons, who finished with 126 yards and all three of RCA's TDs - each in the second half.
Simons' final score - a 3-yard run - capped a 13-play, 54-yard drive that ended with 5:30 left in the game. The extra point failed and St. Clairsville still held a 27-20 advantage.
The Red Devils began the ensuing possession at their 36 and Brown carried the ball four straight times before St. C. was faced with a third-and-5 at the RCA 40 with 3:32 left. Mike Monteroso's pass was incomplete and the Red Devils were forced to punt, giving the Tide one more shot to tie, or possibly go ahead.
St. C.'s defense would have none of it.
RCA (0-2) started its march at its 37 and Simons was stuffed on first down. On second down, Keiv Southern rushed for 3 yards as the clock hit 2:45. On third down, Simons stepped back and lofted the ball downfield toward Arrington Johns, who was wide open at the Red Devils 35, but the ball fell out of his hands, forcing RCA into a fourth-and-long situation. Southern's pass fell incomplete, ending the threat.
''Our kids were relentless,'' McLean said. ''They hung in there. I think we did what we needed to do to get the win.
''We stood the test again, just like in Week One (a 24-21 victory at Claymont) with our back's against the wall.
''It shows a lot of character.''
McLean was also pleased with his coaching staff, which had to adjust after RCA came out in the Wildcat in the second half, with Simons leading the attack.