WELLSVILLE - The Blue Devils can call themselves repeat champions.
Western Reserve held the lead from beginning to end on Friday against Wellsville to claim its second straight ITCL lower tier title, 41-7, at Nicholson Stadium.
The Blue Devils (7-2) have won seven straight games and will finish the season against Columbiana next week. Western Reserve has now won three lower tier titles and put together an impressive 41-7 mark in league play.
Parker Warren of Western Reserve (13) looks to escape the defense of Wellsville’s Zack Mellott during ITCL play Friday at Nicholson Stadium In Wellsville. (Photo by Jamie Olmstead)
"The kids and coaches have been working hard," Western Reserve coach Andy Hake said. "The kids come from good families and have good values. A lot of people kind of counted us out after the first two games. We'll still take care of business next week, but it feels good to win the league. The kids have been resilient."
Western Reserve ran 51 offensive plays in the first half for nearly 300 yards and never
looked back. Wellsville, on the other hand, couldn't maintain drives or find consistency on either side of the ball.
"I know the final score is 41-7, but we battled them," Wellsville coach Dave Skinner said. "It would've been easy for our kids to say that this is Western Reserve and let them run wild. We made them work for every point they got. I'm proud of the effort."
The loss drops the Tigers to 3-6 on the season, and they will finish their season next week at Leetonia.
"We're looking for effort now," Skinner said. "Maybe we can be a spoiler in Week 10."
The Blue Devils started the game with one of their typical drives - nine plays, 60 yards and a score. Junior Dan Zilke -who finished with a game high 93 rushing yards - broke the first of two big runs in the first half, this one 28 yards to put Western Reserve up, 7-0 with 10:45 left in the opening frame.
After a Wellsville drive stalled near midfield, the Blue Devils took control again.
This time it was a 13-play, 57-yard drive that spanned four minutes and ended with another score. Junior quarterback Nick Allison would hook up with junior Danny Rosati to put Western Reserve ahead, 14-0, with 4:35 left in the first quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, Zilke would break another big run, this time 43 yards up the middle to give the Blue Devils a comfortable 21-0 advantage with 7:21 left to play in the first half.
A five-yard strike from Allison to junior Jon Timko with 4:57 left in the second frame gave Western Reserve a 28-0 lead at the break.
"We went no safety and Cover 1 across the board," Skinner said of his defense. "We covered well and didn't give them anything easy through the air."
The Tigers first three possessions of the second half all ended in turnovers. The first two were Jordan Sloan interceptions, by Coleman Smith and Tim Cooper. The third was a Sloan fumble recovered by Tim O'Connell.
The Blue Devils made the Tigers pay for the second and third turnover. Cooper cashed in the first when he found paydirt from three yards out for a 35-0 lead with 4:22 left in the third quarter.
Then Allison hit junior Andrew Miller from 10 yards out with 34 seconds in the third to put the score at 41-0.
The lone bright spot for Wellsville was a 32-yard touchdown run by Marcus Moxley with 5:47 left to play.
"They've got a good coach," Hake said of Wellsville. "Their numbers are down and they're struggling a little bit because of lack of bodies, but there's no lack of effort."
Moxley led Wellsville with 57 yards rushing on nine carries, while Brendon Carr finished with 48 yards on nine attempts. Sloan was 3-of-14 for 12 yards with two interceptions.
For Western Reserve, after Zilke's 93-yard performance, was Alex Dahler with 51 yards on five attempts. Allison finished 15-of-38 for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Cooper led the receiving corps with four catches for 41 yards.
Western Reserve committed only two penalties for 15 yards in the game.