WHEELING - The Potters are second to none.
The East Liverpool golf team put on a show Tuesday at the OVAC Class 4A Golf Championship at Oglebay Park's Spiedel Golf Club.
The Potters shot a 309 team score to win the title for the first time in school history. St. Clairsville was second at 316 with Martins Ferry third at 318.
The East Liverpool golf team poses with its hardware after winning the OVAC?Class 4A Golf Championship on Tuesday at Oglebay Park’s Spiedel Golf Club. Pictured are (from left) Ryian Burson, Isaac Davidson, Alex Watson, Joey Cilone and Blake Prince. (Photo by Seth Staskey)
"The kids are really excited about this," East Liverpool coach Ben Wright said. "I knew we had talent coming back this year, but they've even exceeded my expectations."
Golf can be a funny game sometimes.
Just 72 hours prior to teeing it up on Tuesday, the St. Clairsville Red Devils shot a blistering sub-300 team score to win the Fall Classic.
They came to the conference tournament as the defending champions in Class 4A and one of the favorites for another title.
Unfortunately, for the Red Devils, golf was a funny game for them on the sun-splashed par 72 Jones Course. The Red Devils settled for the runner-up plaque with East Liverpool, which finished third in the Fall Classic, grabbing its first OVAC title on the links by seven shots.
"We were flat," said St. Clairsville coach Rick Oberdick. "We had a day last week when we were all hot and then today we were flat, and I don't know why."
The Potters were fueled by three all-conference players, including the tournament's medalist.
Junior Blake Prince captured his second straight OVAC title, shooting an impressive even-par round of 72. Prince set the tone with a solid front nine in which he posted the tournament's only red number at 35.
East Liverpool freshman Isaac Davidson and junior Joey Cilone were third and fourth overall in the field, posting 76 and 77, respectively.
The Potters' highest score that counted was an 82 by the team's lone senior Alex Watson.
"Blake put up a good number, got us started and the other guys just fell right in line," Wright said. "The kids really stepped up. We've played four tournaments and this the fourth one we won. We know when we play St. Clairsville that it's pretty much going to be a toss up based on which kids play well that day."
Rounding out the East Liverpool team is juniors Ryian Burson and Mat Hilditch.
According to Wright, quality depth has been key to the Potters' successes.
"Isaac has been steady all year long,"?Wright said. "And you never really know what you're going to get from a freshman. And Ryian was a transfer student from Marysville and he was a No. 1 or No. 2 there and comes in at No. 5 for us. Depth has been key. If one kid has a bad day, the others are right there to back him up."
The Red Devils placed just one player on the all-OVAC team. Senior Jared Burghy posted the low round for the Devils with a 78.
A pair of former OVAC medalists - Zach Keylor and Caden Myers - both checked in with rounds of 79. Senior lefty Adam Jeffries, who was medalist with a sub par round last Friday, fired an 80 to round out the scoring for the Devils.
"The strength we've had is when a kid or two are flat, someone steps it up for them," Oberdick said. "We were all flat today, so maybe in the sectional, we'll all be hot. You just don't know. I know our kids didn't take anyone lightly; we knew we had to be focused and played well to win. Our kids are resilient, quality golfers and we'll bounce back."
Martins Ferry, which won the 3A title last season, had two players earn a spot on the all-OVAC team.
Chase Stuckey took home the runner-up medalist plaque after posting a 3-over 75. Zac Riggenbach checked in with a 78.
All told, the Purple Riders closed with a team score of 318. Taylor Shane, who was the 3A medalist last season, and Andrew Chlon rounded out the scorers with rounds of 82 and 83, respectively.
Up next for the Potters is a home match on tomorrow against Cardinal Mooney. Next week, East Liverpool will play in the Meadowbrook Invitational.
With the season winding down, the Potters - who have advanced to the district tournament the past two years - have their sights set high.
"With the way we're playing, we can beat anyone on any given day," Wright said. "With golf, you just never know though. We're hoping to make it past districts this year. That's in our sights."
(Seth Staskey contributed to this story)