It’s been a long time for Blue Devils

COLUMBIANA-It has been 11 long years since Lisbon last beat Columbiana in a football game.

On Sept. 20, 2002, the Devils beat the Clippers 32-13. Since then, Lisbon went on a steady downward trend while the Clippers remained consistent. If there was ever a year for the Devils to get back at the Clippers it would be this one.

Coach Jim Tsilimos has Lisbon playing its most competitive football in years. Lisbon has already matched its 2012 win total of two and nearly won a third game before losing late to Mineral Ridge.

Columbiana meanwhile is in a rare down cycle. The Clippers lost their first four games for the first time in 15 years before getting in the win column last week against Southern Local.

Both teams are 1-1 in Inter-Tri County League upper tier play.

“Nearly every year that I’ve been here, we have had some say in the league race one way or the other,” Columbiana coach Bob Spaite said. “I think that will be no different this year. We are starting to get better as we get to the second half and are only one game back in the league. I think we can be a factor.”

After a one-year hiatus, the Clippers and Devils are conference opponents again, with Columbiana moving back to the upper tier. Columbiana won the last meeting 35-0 in 2011. The Clippers have not allowed a point to the Blue Devils since 2008.

“Lisbon is vastly improved from the last time we played them two years ago,” Columbiana coach Bob Spaite said. “I’m not expecting anything like the games we’ve had the past few years. They are very good at running the football with Brandon Barnes.”

To stop Barnes, the Clippers will lean on a defense that has given up just 15 points in the last two games.

“Offensively we have been inconsistent so we have had to lean on our defense to make plays,” Spaite said. “They will have to bring another big effort on Friday.”