Tigers blank Knights
SHADYSIDE – Mark Holenka is a tough man to please.
The Shadyside High coach, however, had nothing but praise for his spotless Tigers after Friday night’s 43-0 homecoming triumph over Toronto at Fleming Field.
The win was the 18th straight regular-season triumph for the Orange & Black in improving to 5-0.
Eric Meek’s Red Knights, meanwhile, are now a deceiving 2-3, with the other two setbacks coming to unbeatens Steubenville Catholic and Wellsville.
“We performed very well tonight. We came out focused and with good intensity and maintained it throughout the game,” Holenka said. “Our running game continues to impress and defensively we were solid in all phases.
“Coaches (Mike) Kernik, (Chase) Grinch and (Jeff) Campbell deserve a lot of credit for how our offense is progressing,” Holenka said. “It was a very satisfying night.”
Meek was at the opposite end of the spectrum concerning his team.
“We haven’t been playing with the same intensity as we did against Wellsville in Week 1,” Meek said. “We need to improve our performance. We did a poor job of tackling tonight.
“Playing two tough teams back-to-back isn’t easy, but we still have to be able to score more than three points in those games. We need to get back to being the team we were earlier in the season.”
The Tigers’ rushing attack, despite missing one injured starter from its vaunted offensive line, again dictated the game’s tempo, much like they have in the Orange’s four previous victories. The three-headed ground monster of Eric Howell, Chris Littell and Austin Dorris combined for more than 300 yards and all six Tiger touchdowns.
Littell, sidelined a week ago with an injury, stormed back with 124 yards on 13 carries. Dorris galloped for 108 yards on just seven carries while Howell delivered 81 stripes on 10 totes.
The Tigers’ ground and pound attack imposed its will on the Red Knights on the hosts’ initial possession.
After a Toronto punt, the Orange took possession at the Jefferson Countians’ 48. Eight running plays by three rushers had the Tigers in the end zone, climaxed by Howell’s five-yard run. The kick failed.
Shadyside forced another Toronto punt on the ensuing possession. That set the stage for a 44-yard, 7-play drive, again all on the ground. Howell found the end zone from four yards out. The pass for the bonus points failed, leaving the Tigers up 12-0 with 11:25 left in the second session.
Toronto saw another set of downs yield nothing, giving Shadyside the ball at its 40. Dorris faked a handoff and scooted around left end, racing 60 untouched yards for another Tiger TD. Howell ran in the conversion for a 20-0 lighting at the 8:52 mark of the second period.
Minutes later, Shadyside embarked on a textbook Tiger march, covering 69 yards on eight plays, all on the ground. Littell exploded in from the 11 with 2:29 left in the half. Dorris ran in the conversion for a 28-0 advantage.
Shadyside managed one more first-half score as Dorris sprinted 14 yards on a quarterback draw with just 13 seconds showing prior to intermission. Dorris speared Scott Hammond for the bonus points a 36-0 halftime lead.
Littell tallied the only second half TD via a 3-yard run with 7:44 showing in the third. Cody Hawthorne added the PAT.
Holenka opted to begin to substitute liberally at this point.
“We still need to continue to work on our passing game, but when you get big leads early running the ball, it tough to begin passing. But it’s nice to be able to get a lot of kids on the field again this week,” Holenka said. “Toronto is a team we have a lot of respect for and a team that should win their share of games the second-half of the season.”
Holenka’s defensive crew had many a standout, none more impressive than Howell. Zach Meadows, Hammond, Matt Krupa, Luke Nardo and Cory Banco all made strong impressions against the Toronto offense.
Shadyside wraps up its three-game homestand Friday, as Beallsville visits. Toronto will bid to even its record welcoming St. John Central that same evening.