STEUBENVILLE — Several key contributors to Steubenville’s success have been named to the Division IV All-Eastern District team, which was selected by a panel of area sports writers.
Leading the list is junior tailback Tayveon Crawford, who was named a first-team running back and Co-Offensive Player of the Year.
Crawford became the focal point of Big Red’s powerful rushing attack after senior Caleb Mitchell went down with an injury. He finished the regular season with 1,414 yards and 14 touchdowns. During the final four weeks, he rushed for 909 yards. The hard-running Crawford compiled a career-high 307 yards on 24 carries in Steubenville’s road victory over New Philadelphia.
Two members of the offensive line responsible for Crawford’s success also landed on the all-district squad.
Keonte Holmes, a two-year starter at tackle, was named to the first team. The senior graded out at 92 percent during the regular season and did not allow a sack. Senior center Kaleb Brown earned second-team honors. He had a blocking grade of 91 percent and was not guilty of a single negative exchange with the quarterback through 10 games.
Big Red’s offense averaged 390 yards per game during the regular season and 36 points.
The Steubenville defense had a very strong year, allowing 233 yards per outing (just 74 on the ground) and 18 points. Three members of that unit landed on the first team.
Senior linebacker Erik Lulla, a two-year starter, recorded 92 tackles. He also was credited with six tackles and 12 for a loss. Lulla, who received considerations for Defensive Player of the Year, also had an interception. As a tight end, he caught 11 passes for 255 yards and six touchdown. He had a blocking grade of 86 percent.
Kwadre Williams, a senior defensive tackle, had 54 tackles and eight sacks (in Steubenville’s initial playoff game, he increased his sack total to 15). Eight of Williams’ tackles were behind the line. A three-year regular, Williams also saw time at tight end, catching two passes for 65 yards and earning a blocking grade of 85 percent.
Senior defensive back Dylan Cunningham was in on 56 tackles. He sacked an opposing quarterback twice and had five tackles for a loss. In addition, Cunningham had three interceptions.
Senior Jaziah Blackwell and junior Dave Tuttle earned spots on the second-team defense.
Blackwell, an undersized but extremely quick defensive end, had 52 tackles during the regular season. He recorded 10 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss. He is a two-year starter. Blackwell also got some carries at tailback.
Tuttle, who plays inside linebacker next to Lulla, recorded 75 tackles, 16 resulting in a loss, and four sacks. He saw considerable playing time as a sophomore when Big Red went 15-0 and captured the Division IV championship. On the offensive side of the football, Tuttle had 36 carries from the fullback spot for 146 yards and six touchdowns.
Also landing on the first team was senior kicker Ian Phillips. During the regular season, he was 33 of 37 on extra points, averaged 44.1 yards per kickoff and 30 yards per punt. Phillips, also a standout soccer player for Big Red, missed several games with an injury suffered during a soccer game. In the playoff opener, he booted a 33-yard field goal.
Clayton Criss, who became Big Red’s starting quarterback when Randy Mitchell was injured in the Penn Hills game, received special mention all-district. The senior completed 62 percent of his passes for 868 yards and eight touchdowns.
“I want to congratulate our players who made the all-district team,” Big Red coach Reno Saccoccia said. “Hopefully, they understand they are part of something bigger than an all-district team — they are part of a Big Red football team.
“Like all of our players, they have worked hard to improve throughout the season. But, the most important team to be on right now is Big Red, and I’m sure they understand that.”
(Courtesy of the Herald-Star)