Shadyside seeks perfection Friday at Barnesville

The Shadyside Tigers already know they’re headed to the Division VI postseason.

However, there’s plenty on the line Friday when they visit Barnesville, which will be celebrating Homecoming.

Amongst the things Coach Mark Holenka’s team are trying to lock up are a home game in the opening round of the Region 21 tournament and the school’s first 10-0 season since 1977.

“Both of those would be extremely nice,” Holenka said. “We have to come ready to play four quarters again and stay focused if we hope to achieve those goals.”

Shadyside has actually had six unbeaten seasons, but only one that was a 10-game slate and didn’t include a tie.

“The 10-0 part would be really nice because no matter what would happen in the second season, it’s like icing on the cake because the kids have achieved some history,” Holenka said. “When you’re looking at possibly only the second team in school history to achieve something like that, it’s something that people won’t soon forget.”

Standing in the way of the Tigers’ quest are Matt Johnson’s Shamrocks, who are trying to end their 2012 campaign on a high note. Not only would it lead to a 5-5 season, but it would also snap a four-game losing skid.

“It takes a toll on you,” Johnson said of the skid. “The kids have stayed positive and I can’t complain about how the majority of them have come and worked hard every day.”

Currently, Shadyside finds itself in fourth place in the Region 21 computer poll after it upended struggling Bridgeport last week.

“We can’t pass up a chance to get better in Week 10 because we were caught looking ahead to Week 11,” Holenka said.

The Shamrocks started the season 4-1, but have lost four straight by an average margin of better than 37 points a week.

“We’ve dealt with some injuries and we’re just not deep,” Johnson said. “When we have one kid go down, it’s like losing two or three because we have to move so many people around. We know injuries happen, but it makes it so tough to prepare what you’re going to do when you’ve got numbers that make it difficult.”

The challenge this week for the Rocks is big as they must contend with a balanced Shadyside offense that’s led by senior quarterback Chase Kinemond. He’s thrown for 948 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s also ran for 376 yards and five touchdowns.

The Tigers’ ground game has been balanced with the likes of senior Brooks Ramsey (82-505-2td) and junior Chris Littell (43-344-6td) also having solid seasons.

When Kinemond does put the ball in the air, it’s normally going to either senior Cody Hudson (27-446-10td) or sophomore Austin Dorris (21-344-5td).

“Shadyside’s quarterback makes good decisions, they’re athletic and their backs and receivers are good,” Johnson explained.

The Shadyside defense, which has been stingy, has pitched three shutouts and hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in any game this season. Holenka, who spearheads the defensive unit, cautioned his squad about this Shamrocks’ outfit.

“Barnesville makes you defend the entire field,” Holenka said. “At any time, they can break one and that’s something we have to be concerned with. If we let them break a few and fall behind, things could get quite precarious for us. We need to take control of the game early.”

Isaac McGee took over the quarterback reins last week because Kyle Yaquinta, who has better than 800 yards passing, didn’t play in the first half.

Colton Pritchard is the Shamrocks’ leading rusher with 383 yards and five touchdowns on 75 carries.

Brandon Burkhart, Kyle McIntire and Pritchard all have made 16 receptions this season to lead the Shamrocks’ receiving corps. Pritchard has 312 yards and two scores.