Shadyside's game plan is simple. The Tigers are intent on running the football.
After six weeks, it has worked in textbook fashion.
The unbeaten and state-ranked Tigers unleashed their punishing ground attack once again Friday night at Fleming Field. Visiting Beallsville had no answer as the Orange & Black amassed 413 rushing yards en route to a 55-20 triumph.
SHADYSIDE’S Eric Howell is wrapped up by Beallsville’s Cole Susac during Friday’s game at Fleming Field. Howell and the Tigers’ ground game ran for more than 400 yards and seven touchdowns in the win against the Blue Devils.
The impressive triumph solidified Shadyside's top place in the Division VII Region 25 computer ratings while setting up a showdown with Wheeling Central on Friday night at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Coach Paul Kanzigg's short-handed Devils dropped to 3-3 and will host Toronto Friday. The Monroe Countians still control their playoff destiny.
Coach Mark Holenka's club dominated the contest thanks to its impressive offensive line, enabling Chris Littell, Eric Howell and Austin Dorris to once again run wild. The talented trio combined for 359 yards and five rushing touchdowns while Dorris added another on a pick six.
Littell led the way with 136 yards, Howell garnered 124 while Dorris made the most of his five carries for 99 stripes.
"We knew what we needed to do to win the game. Our running game has been there every game. But it is time our passing game becomes more effective," Holenka said. "Also our secondary had some lapses tonight. That is another area that needs attention.
"It is a little bit of a hollow feeling a game like this. We felt it was a physical mismatch, but we didn't improve on the things that need improving," said the former Tiger linebacking standout. "Things get much tougher this coming week."
Beallsville, meanwhile, is battling numbers issues. Kanzigg's crew started the season with 21 players but injuries are cutting painfully into that number. Two of the Devils' losses came at the hands of possibly the two best small-school teams in the valley in Shadyside and Madonna. Injuries cost Beallsville dearly last week as starting quarterback Chase Mercer, who displayed some nice skills against the Tigers, did not play in the loss to Frontier.
"My kids are giving me all they have. We have a few kids who probably shouldn't be playing because of injuries, but they have great heart," Kanzigg said. "If we can stay reasonably healthy, we believe we have a chance for several more wins.
"Tonight is what we expected. Shadyside is a real good football team. They are big and strong," he added. "They run the football exceptionally well and are very well coached."
Run it well they certainly do.
They was reflected on the Tigers' initial possession as Dorris swept around left end for a 33-yard scoring romp, bowling over a Beallsville defender at the two. Nathan Campbell added the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 8:22 still remaining in the first quarter.
After a Beallsville punt, Shadyside drove 72 yards, all on the ground, capped by a six-yard Howell burst. Campbell added the PAT for a 14-0 Tiger lead with 4:42 left in the opening chapter.
The ensuing Beallsville possession imploded as Dorris pilfered a Blue Devil pass and sprinted 45 yards to paydirt. Campbell's boot upped it to 21-0.
Shadyside made it a 35-0 issue at halftime via a 1-yard scoring run by Howell and a 1-yard TD from Littell.
Beallsville used a Mikey Palmer interception on Shadyside's first possession after intermission to set up the visitors' first score. Mercer hit senior ace Derek Lucas on a perfectly executed 32-yard slant pattern. The same tandem hooked up for the bonus points, cutting the lead to 35-8.
The Blue Devils would get no closer, however, as the Tigers squashed any Beallsville hopes on the strength of a 26-yard Howell scoring jaunt and an 11-yard touchdown run from Matt Krupa.
Shadyside's offensive line continues to draw rave reviews. The unit consists of Colton Campbell, Jacob Spencer, Cory Banco, Austin Pedelose, Zach Meadows and Jake Duvall.
Scott Hammond, Howell and Banco all excelled on defensive for Shadyside.
Beallsville displayed some talent in defeat. Mercer has the making of a fine quarterback. He threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Lucas, Palmer, Dalton Secrest and Bruce Sefert all turned in strong effort for Beallsville.
"Wheeling Central is dynamite. They play with a lot of passion and tradition," Holenka said. "We need to bring a wooden stake next week. They never quit.
"I know we will be able to hit them. I just don't know if we can tackle them," he added. "But these are the games you get excited about. I would rather play a game when it is 50-50 on who is going to win instead of a game when we have a 90-10 chance to win."