Tigers School Blue Eagles, 41-14
The opening kickoff of the season certainly wasn’t what Mark Holenka and his Shadyside coaching staff scripted.
After problems getting the ball to stand on the tee, kicker Billy Johnson sought out a holder and kicked the ball just 20 yards, allowing Magnolia to set up shop on its own 43. That proved to be basically the final mistake the Tigers made, however. With a balanced offense and a stingy defense, Shadyside celebrated “Ty Fleming Night” at Fleming Field in grand fashion, posting a relatively easy 41-14 victory against defending West Virginia Class A state champion Magnolia.
“The team bought into the game plan and executed on both offense and defense very well,” Holenka said. Along with starting the season with a win, Shadyside avenged a 40-point beat-down at the hands of the Blue Eagles a year ago, which Holenka was especially pleased about.
“(The game) showed the kids had a commitment to rally from what happened to them last year,” Holenka said. “This was a great opportunity for us and we had some incentive.”
The Tigers responded from the opening-kick fiasco impressively and first-year Blue Eagles head coach Doc Chapman rolled the dice early. Facing a fourth-and-one at the Tigers’ 48, Chapman elected to go for it. Quarterback Nick Priem was stuffed and Shadyside took over. Six plays later, it was 7-0 in favor of the Tigers. Johnson, who played superbly in all facets of the game, capped the 51-yard drive with a 19-yard burst. He then added the first of his five PAT kicks. A big play on the drive was when he and senior wide receiver Chase Wade hooked up for a 30-yard gain.
“I have belief in our guys to be able to get a yard,” Chapman said. “That quarterback sneak has been pretty good to us over the years and Nick’s pretty good, but we didn’t get any push off the ball. We got stalemated at the line of scrimmage and they take it in and score. Right out of the gate, that was the big swing in the game.”
At that point, Shadyside not only had the lead, but all of the momentum and never once relinquished it. The Tigers limited Magnolia to 104 yards of offense and just three first downs. Of those 37 came on a Priem to Brooks Parsons touchdown pass and 22 of the yards came on the final drive when Shadyside had its reserve players in the game.
“I was concerned about their speed on the perimeter, but our kids understood their screen and big-play potential,” Holenka said. “We thought if we could take that away from them, they’d have to be find a way to run the ball with younger kids up front.”
That never happened for the Blue Eagles. They accumulated just 47 yards on 21 carries.
“Shadyside’s a good team, but we didn’t play well,” Chapman said. “It’s not an excuse, but we have a bunch of young guys. We have a lot of growing up to do. When it’s all said and done, I think we’ll be a good football team.”
The Tigers owned a 14-0 lead after one. Hard-running senior Alex Krupa plunged in from three yards out with 1:29 to go in the first period.
Cody Hawthorne intercepted a Priem pass, putting the Tigers in business at the Magnolia 25. Johnson got his first of two passing touchdowns when he found Connor Banco all alone in the flat, making it 21-0.
Another Magnolia three-and-out was followed by a botched punt. Six plays later, Johnson scored from six yards out. The Priem to Parsons’ score made it 28-7, but the Tigers answered back when Johnson and Wade hooked up from 15 yards out with 25 seconds to go in the half.
Johnson put the OHSAA’s mercy rule in effect with 6:57 to go in the third when he scored from a yard out. All told, Johnson finished 7-of-13 for 146 yards passing. He ran 15 times for 83 yards and three touchdowns. Krupa also ran for 83 yards.
Street ended the Blue Eagle scoring with a two yard TD run, while Patrick Mirandy split the uprights for the final tally.
Priem was 7-17 for 74 yards and a touchdown, and one interception, with Parsons hauling in four of his passes for 54 yards and a score. Peau Halahingano hauled in two passes for 18 yards, and Leo Herrick caught one for two yards. On the ground, Street accumulated 53 yards and a score on 17 carries, while Priem rushed for a minus six yards on four carries.
Defensively, Caleb Nice paced the Eagles with a dozen solo tackles, one went for loss and forced a fumble, while Hunter Partridge made seven tackles with one for loss of yardage. Jakob Barrows made five solo tackles, with one for loss of yardage and recovered a fumble.
Magnolia will be making its home debut against Williamstown at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Bill Stewart Memorial Stadium, on Alumni Field.