Indians perfect heading into league

Steubenville Catholic Central’s Jeffrey Dawson tackles Southern Local’s Jayce Sloan on Saturday. Also shown are Central’s Alec Costantini (72), Alex Ialenti (66), Jordan Maul (75), Southern’s Bradly Sloan (4), Kyle Young (64) and Tommy Redman (79). (Photo by Joe Catullo)

STEUBENVILLE — Prior to Saturday’s home opener with Southern Local, Catholic Central coach Steve Daley said the Indians were a very, very-good football team.

Turns out the Crusader grid boss was spot on.

Southern, now 3-0, scored the game’s initial 20 points, pitched a first-half shutout and left rainy Harding Stadium with a 26-13 victory.

“They are a very-good team,” Daley said following the first-ever meeting between the schools. “They out-physicaled us, plain and simple. Hats off to them. They came out, took control of the game early and held control of it.”

The Indians set the tone on their first drive of the game, marching 58 yards in 10 plays. All but 10 of those yards came on the ground as Southern’s big, physical line controlled things up front. The touchdown came on a 4-yard run by Dylan Milhoan.

After recovering a fumble, Southern struck again, this time on a 20-yard pass from Jayce Sloan to Mark Soukup. Edison transfer River Pappas provided the third score with an 8-yard burst up the middle.

“We had a very good first half,” Southern coach Rich Wright said. “I thought we played well on both sides of the football.

“We knew it was going to be a great challenge down here. This is a difficult place to play, and Central has a proud program. It was a big win for us.”

The Crusader offense, which averaged 444 yards and 38 points in its first two games, was held pretty much in check throughout the opening 24 minutes. Central did mount a threat late, moving from its own 47 to the Southern 13, but was unable to convert before the clock expired.

Daley’s crew took the second half kick and marched from its own 40 to the Indians’ 18 before turning the ball over on downs. The Crusaders got on the board with 2:49 left in the third when Jeffrey Dawson capped a 56-yard drive with a 2-yard plunge.

Southern responded with a 17-yard touchdown run by Jayce Sloan. Two snaps before scoring, the talented junior quarterback ran for 8 yards on fourth down to keep the drive alive.

Central closed the scoring with a 2-yard pass from Justin Hartzell to Noah Fayak.

“We were down a couple of guys tonight, so we were a little nervous about our depth,” Wright said. “We got some kids banged up in the second half and just kind of sputtered through it.

“We have a good, young football team with mostly juniors. Our coaches had a good game plan tonight, and I thought our kids played really-well in the first half.”

Southern finished with 312 yards of total offense compared to 236 for the now 2-1 Crusaders. Jayce Sloan compiled 57 rushing yards while throwing for 102. Cam Grodhaus caught four passes for 72 yards and added 40 on the ground. Pappas finished with 49 rushing yards and Milhoan 43.

Hartzell ran for 109 and passed for 100. Fayak and Anthony Fallon each had four catches for Central, which will visit Edison on Friday.

“Southern did a nice job defensively against us tonight,” Daley said. “We have to do a better job of some things that was pretty obvious. We need to go back, look at things, figure them out and move forward from here.

“We still have a lot of season left. We have to get these kids back on track because it wasn’t there tonight.”

Southern will look for its fourth win on Friday when it opens Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference play at home against Toronto.

“We’ve gotten better every year,” Wright said. “We got to 2-1 but never to 3-0. Now we have that tough league. We feel pretty good tonight. We’ll enjoy it and get ready for Toronto.”

Southern 26, Catholic Central 13

Southern 8-12-0-6 — 26

Central 0-0-7-6 — 13

SOUTHERN: Milhoan 4 run (Jayce Sloan run)

SOUTHERN: Soukup 20 pass from Jayce Sloan (pass failed)

SOUTHERN: Pappas 8 run (pass failed)

CENTRAL: Dawson 2 run (Roberts kick)

SOUTHERN: Jayce Sloan 17 run (run failed)

CENTRAL: Fayak 2 pass from Hartzell (kick failed)

RUSHING: Southern Local 56-210-3 (Jayce Sloan 22-57-1; Milhoan 11-43-1; Pappas 16-49; Bradly Sloan 2-21; Grodhaus 5-40); Catholic Central 33-136-1 (Hartzell 18-109; Keeder 4-2; Fayak 2-5; Fallon 2-4; Bell 4-10; Dawson 2-2-1; Argentine 1-4).

PASSING: Southern Local 6-11-102-1-1 (all by Jayce Sloan); Catholic Central 11-22-100-1 (all by Hartzell)

RECEIVING: Southern Local 6-102-1 (Soukup 2-30-1; Grodhaus 4-72); Catholic Central 11-100-1 (Fayak 4-36-1; Fallon 4-25; Argentine 1-10; Keeder 1-16; Lefever 1-13).

FIRST DOWNS: Southern Local 18; Catholic Central 12.

PENALTIES-YARDS: Southern Local 4-37; Catholic Central 3-37.

PUNTS: Southern Local 2-28; Catholic Central 2-32.

FUMBLES-LOST: Southern Local 5-0; Catholic Central 4-1.