COLUMBIANA-Columbiana shed a tier in the off season.
So far, the new one is working just fine.
Brandon Hacker rushed for 70 yards and four touchdowns, while Britton Steiginga added 146 yards on the ground with two touchdowns as the Clippers opened Inter-Tri County League lower tier play with a 48-12 victory over Wellsville on Friday at Firestone Park.
Columbiana's Brandon Hacker scores a touchdown in front of Wellsville's Marcus Moxley on Friday. (Photo by Patti Schaeffer)
The Clippers (3-1, 1-0) learned early in the week that sophomore starting quarterback Neat Huk would miss at least a few weeks with an injured knee. The team responded by sticking to the basics. They gained 328 yards - all on the ground - and did not throw a pass.
"Our guys pulled together," Columbiana coach Bob Spaite said. "We have a young sophomore quarterback and a great offensive line. We've got Hacker who's the demolition derby guy and Steiginga who is the grand prix guy. They said lean on us."
Columbiana senior lineman Justin Hoffman said the adjustments weren't that hard to make.
"We played within ourselves," Hoffman said. "We did what had to be done."
Nearly all of Columbiana's first half possessions started in Wellsville's territory. The Tigers (2-2, 0-1) were limited to 13 rushing and 39 passing yards at halftime. By that time the score was 42-0 and there was nothing the Tigers could do to shake the former ITCL upper tier power.
"We got our butts whooped," Wellsville coach Dave Skinner said. "There isn't much else to say. We got it handed to us."
Columbiana's defense created three turnovers in the win - including an interception by Steiginga.
"Coach Larry Baughman did a great job," Spaite said. "Wellsville is very explosive. They have two or three guys that can it the distance any time. Until the very end we held them. They only scored with our freshman in there."
Columbiana senior defensive end Jared Hill, who had a fumble recovery, said he felt the defense played a complete game and did its job.
"We were supposed to shut down the run and that's what we did tonight," Hill said.
Hill said the team was not concerned with the newness of the ITCL lower tier.
"It's always a little different when you have a new opponent," Hill said. "You always have to study a bit harder to see what they have."
Wellsville was hampered by several penalties in the first quarter which killed encouraging starts to drives. Steiginga's punt return excellence made sure the Tigers had their backs against the goal line for just about the first half.
Marcus Moxley led the Tigers with 114 yards rushing - 80 of those came on a fourth quarter touchdown run against Columbiana's freshmen.
Columbiana travels to Sebring to renew an old Tri-County League rivalry next Friday.
Wellsville hosts Lowellville on Friday.