Martins Ferry rolls by Shenandoah in home opener
The game was a mismatch on paper; it was even worse on the turf.
Schedule wise, Shenandoah had Martins Ferry sitting in the proverbial sandwich game. The Purple Riders were coming off an impressive road win over a fine Heath team in the opener and were anticipating a week three encounter with Ridgewood, a team which pocketed a one-point win against the host Purple a season ago.
Unfortunately for the Zeps, they were the only thing to get sandwiched Friday night at the Dave Bruney Athletic Complex.
The Purple Riders were explosive, physical and relentless in drubbing the Noble Countians by a 65-0 count in a contest which featured a running clock in the second half. The hosts were on top 44-0 at intermission.
Coach Dave Bruney spread the abundant offensive wealth quite well amongst his Purple gridders, as some dozen different players carried the ball while four different quarterbacks completed passes.
Moreover, the Ferrians amassed more than 400 yards in offense, displaying fine balance with 276 yards on the ground and 149 stripes through the air. Meanwhile, Coach Bill Bruney’s swarming defense pitched a shutout while yielding just 47 total yards.
“This is one of those games where it can be easy to lose focus and then you are concerned about the progress you are making,” Dave Bruney noted. “I do believe we did make some progress tonight.
“But we made enough mistakes if we do not correct them it may cost us next week,” he added. “It was nice to be able to get everyone into the game.”
Ferry will be a handful for any foe to contain. The Purple Riders possess a potent and deep arsenal. Bruney can call upon two quality quarterbacks, a stable of effective runners and several top-shelf receivers.
All those elements came out to play Friday night against the Zeps.
“We knew coming in we would have our hands full,” first-year Shenandoah boss Kaleb Lawrence said. “Martins Ferry is big, physical and very talented. It is a program we want to model ourselves after.
“Right now we are working on changing attitudes. That doesn’t happen over night,” he continued. “We just ran into a very good team tonight.”
That they did.
Ferry dominated from the outset.
The Purple Riders took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards to paydirt on just four plays, fueled by a 49-yard pass hookup from senior quarterback Tyler Strama to sensational classmate Cody Schau which carried down to the Zeps’ 16. Three straight totes from hard-running sophomore Brandon Laughman, the last covering 4 yards for the score at the 10:24 lighting. Strama ran in the bonus points for an 8-0 lead.
Schau set up the next Purple touchdown with an interception, which spawned an 8-play drive, capped by another Laughman score, this one from 11 yards out. Junior quarterback Eric Flowers drilled Schau for the bonus points and a 16-0 advantage.
The score mushroomed to 44-0 by intermission as junior dandy Brian Styles netted two touchdowns, one on a 29-yard run and the second via a 61-yard punt return.
Flowers scored on a 20-yard scamper while Laughman added his third six-pointer, courtesy of a 3-yard Strama pass. Freshman Niko Bruney was perfect on five PAT kicks on the night.
After intermission, Bruney sprinkled the field with his reserves.
“Our skill players were real aggressive tonight. Both quarterbacks (Strama and Flowers) performed exceptionally well,” he added. “With our offense, it is tough for defenses to put eight men in the box.”
Not to be forgotten was the bulldozing blocking of the Purple’s offensive line, featuring Vargo, Zack Coole, Luke Straub, Nick Bain, Cody Beavers, Jonathan Bodkin and Logan Kinney.
Stiles gained 86 yards on just five carries.
Defensively, a myriad of Purple Riders sparkled, led by rugged senior linebacker Sean McGee. His effort was supported by Schau (two picks), Vargo, Bruce Burger, Marcus Sutton, Jack Fitch and a host of others.
Ferry travels to West Lafayette Friday for an stern test with Ridgewood. The Generals are 2-0, following a 28-7 triumph against Waynedale.
Shenandoah is now 0-2. The Zeps visit Meadowbrook Friday.