SHADYSIDE - For the Shadyside Tigers it's 9-0, one to go.
After Friday night's 48-20 dismantling of Bridgeport at Fleming Field, all that stands between Shadyside and the school's third 10-0 season and second consecutive unblemished regular season is a home encounter with Barnesville.
"(Back in August), I didn't think we'd be here," Shadyside head coach Mark Holenka confessed. "But, it's sure nice to be here. I just told our seniors to enjoy the next two home games because they'll be the biggest of your life."
SHADYSIDE’S Scott Hammond wraps up Bridgeport’s Dakota Gabel during the first half of Friday’s game at Fleming Field. Shadyside rolled to a 48-20 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
Shadyside had wrapped up a berth in the inaugural Division VII playoff field after a win against Wheeling Central two weeks ago. It firmly wrapped up a home game after last week's win against Union Local and the victory against Bridgeport all but seals the OVAC Class 2A title, which would be the Tigers' third in four years.
Bridgeport, meanwhile, has now dropped four in a row and seven out of eight. The Bulldogs (2-7) will conclude their regular season next Friday at home against Cameron.
"We'll get back to work Monday, work hard this week and try to close out the season with a win," said Bridgeport head coach Rudy Vavrock.
Once again, the Tigers didn't do anything fancy.
They simply did what works best for them and that's running the ball behind that massive and talented offensive line with their three-headed backfield monster of quarterback Austin Dorris, tailback Eric Howell and fullback Chris Littell.
The trio combined for 225 yards on 26 carries and scored six touchdowns. Dorris carried just three times for 87 yards and two touchdowns. In the process, he went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
Dorris' touchdown runs covered 16 and 65 yards
Littell led the way with 104 yards on 14 carries and he scored twice. He scored the final touchdown of the first half and the first score of the third quarter on runs of 3 and 9 yards, respectively.
Howell finished with just 34 yards on nine rushes. His two touchdown runs covered 1 and 5 yards.
"They're really hard to stop once they get it going," said Vavrock. "They've got three guys who can run the ball. They're a playoff team and they play like it. This is one of the more physical Shadyside teams that I can remember because they just come right at you."
The physicality not only comes from the aforementioned backs, but also the Tigers' line, which is comprised of Zach Meadows, Colton Campbell, Cory Banco, Hunter Hammond and Jacob Spencer.
The Tigers' first team scored on all seven of its possessions before Holenka put in his younger players after the first series of the third quarter. After each touchdown, Mason Campbell was perfect on the point after.
"It was a workmanlike effort," Holenka said. "After the first half, we decided we'd play (the first unit) one series each way and then get them out of there. I don't worry about the points because I want the kids to grow, get a little better and get some experience. Our younger kids deserve to play because they're the ones who give us a look all week."
Despite Holenka's hopes to get some opportunities to work on the passing game, Dorris threw only four passes, landing half for 37 yards.
"When you get a lead too quick, you have to watch what you do (offensively)," Holenka said. "We don't want to rub any salt in any wounds, so we'll work on our passing game on Tuesday through Thursday on the practice field."
Bridgeport, which definitely fought to the bitter end, scored all three of its touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
The first Bulldogs' touchdown came on a highlight reel style catch on a pass from Bailey McGrath to Dakota Gabel. The pass hit Gabel in the chest, ricocheted off a Tigers' defender and back into Gabel's arms for the touchdown.
Patrick Britton scored on a 1-yard run and Gabel, who accounted for 118 yards of offense, including 84 rushing, closed the scoring with a 53-yard burst.
Bridgeport's Benjamin Behnke was good on two PAT kicks.
The Tigers' final score was a 39-yard run by Stevie Doughty in the fourth quarter.
Shadyside's defense picked off McGrath three times. Dorris, Jake Duvall and Cody Hawthorne all pilfered passes. Scott Hammond also turned in a fine defensive performance.