Seniors end 2018 season on high note with 41-7 victory for Zanesville


Senior offensive lineman Jeremiah Hollins (right) and junior running back Gaige Barnett (left) celebrate with senior running back JC Curtis (center) following a touchdown in the Blue Devils 41-7 win over Marietta.

By Nick McWilliams, Sports Director

Junior Ben Everson and senior JC Curtis left Sulsberger Stadium with tears in their eyes and memories for life in the rear-view mirror.

It was an emotional game for the pair, who combined for 236 total yards and five touchdowns, one being a touchdown connection midway through the second quarter. With the playoffs out of the question, all focus will now be on next year in a month’s time, but not without some reminiscence on a memorable last hurrah together.

The pair were a dynamic duo Friday night. For Curtis suiting up for the last time, there was more to it than just a rainy night.

Curtis led the team down the field prior to kickoff, rallying the Blue Devils with the notion it was the last time they would band together. Memories were all that were important.

For Grandstaff, all seniors for the Blue Devils made a lasting impression on the underclassmen, while also taking the team to heights that seemed impossible following a few rough seasons.

“They just kept bouncing back,” he said following the game. “To lose two out of your first three games to playoff teams, and then to lose one late in the year and readjusting our goals … just the fact we asked them to do everything we asked them to do. And they did it. And that’s a tribute to the seniors, and the type of people they are.”

Zanesville kicked the scoring off with a Dekkar Davis touchdown reception up the seam with under a minute left in the second quarter. That score set the tone for the rest of the night.

Although the yardage was not eye-opening for Everson, who compiled just 68 yards through the air, his touchdown connections were right on the money. Finding Davis over the reach of the defender, the senior capped off his night by dancing away from a heavy pass rush to find Curtis in the back-left corner of the end zone over the top before painting a dime of a pass into the outstretched hands of Jerimiah Norman late in the fourth quarter.

His touchdown run marked the fifth time he crossed the goal line this season on the ground, and raised his total touchdowns to 26.

Curtis rebounded from a first quarter fumble to put on his best rushing display to date. So impressive, in fact, he produced more yards on the ground Friday night than in the last six games combined.

Running back Julius Murphy also put forth a big output, reeling off 117 yards on 10 carries and a score.

Defensively, the Blue Devils swarmed Marietta all night, limiting the Tigers to just 166 total yards, and giving up their only score following a muffed punt and defending on a short field. Norman led all receivers with four receptions for 41 yards and the late score.

Following a chippy end to what had been a long, cold game in the steady rain, coach Chad Grandstaff gave a simple message to the outgoing class of 2018. They put forth all the effort necessary, and gave the coaching staff everything they asked for.

Following his speech, Grandstaff reflected on the players who have been with him for four years, but also gave a glimpse into the team’s attitude moving forward.

“(Our seniors) did a great job of leading us in the right direction, and it was a growing process,” he said. “But hopefully, the seeds they planted and the cornerstone they laid will help us continue this upward climb like we’re anticipating, and help this off-season to continue to grind hard and make it happen next year.”

Next year will bring about some uncertainty for Zanesville, losing a boatload of seniors. But for now, the only lasting memory left in the minds of those who braved the harsh Ohio weather are the tears of joy on the faces of the outgoing senior class.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly referenced Ben Everson as a senior. He is a junior.