Tigers cruise to 4-0 by routing Zeps

SHADYSIDE – It wasn’t a work of art, but it didn’t need to be.

No one expected Shadyside to bring its “A” game Friday night against winless Shenandoah. Not after the Tigers’ emotional and dominating win against rival Bellaire just six days prior.

Even when they are not at their best, the Tigers can still get it done in solid fashion, as was the case in a 41-15 drubbing of the Zeps at Fleming Field.

“Leonardo wouldn’t have been real pleased with our performance, but it wasn’t totally unexpected. After a game like we had against Bellaire you want to back off as coaches and let the kids enjoy it somewhat,” Shadyside head coach Mark Holenka said. “It starts at the top with the coaches and permeates down to the kids and it dictates in how we play. We were too robotic at times.

“What upsets us as coaches is the mental mistakes we make,” he added. “This game will help us get refocused for next week. Toronto is a quality team and we need to get back to playing at a higher level.

The triumph was the 17th consecutive regular-season win for the Tigers.

Shadyside played without the services of running back standout Chris Littell who incurred a broken hand in the win over the Big Reds.

Cushioning the blow was another sparkling effort by junior dandy Eric Howell. The 6-2, 192-pounder made the most of his 12 carries, galloping for 139 yards and four touchdowns. Howell scored on jaunts of 4, 1, 13 and 57 yards.

“Eric had a big night running and then turns around and does a great job at defensive end,” Holenka noted.

Athletic junior quarterback Austin Dorris, who earlier in the week received a verbal grid scholarship offer from Ohio U., ran in the two other Shadyside six-pointers.

The outcome was never in doubt as the Orange used its relentless rushing attack to forge a 21-0 advantage after the opening quarter.

Shadyside marched 57 yards on 10 plays on its opening possession, climaxed by Howell’s 4-yard run. The PAT misfired.

Shenandoah proceeded to shoot itself in the foot, fumbling away the ensuing kickoff, with the hosts setting up shop at the Zeps’ 27. Six rushes later saw Howell bust in from the one with 3:29 left in the opening quarter. Hunter Hammond added the PAT for a 13-0 Orange lead.

Things got no better for the Noble Countains on their next possession. Forced to punt, the Zeps had the boot blocked and covered by the Tigers’ Robert Newhart at the Shenandoah 15. One Howell carry, followed by two Dorris totes, the last one from a yard out, again had the Tigers in the end zone. Howell ran in the bonus points for a 21-0 lighting with 10 seconds remaining in the frame.

Shenandoah continued to be plagued by miscues as Tiger senior Jake Duvall pilfered a Zeps’ and returned it 17 yards to the visitors’ 18. That set the table for a 18-yard scramble by Dorris which again tasted paydirt. The PAT was blocked, leaving the Tigers comfortable ahead, 27-0.

The Zeps temporarily slowed the bleeding when Stephen Hannum stepped in front of a Shadyside receiver and raced 31 yards with an interception. Dakota Hornak’s PAT made it 27-7 with 6:33 left in the half.

A Logan Price interception, one of his two thefts on the night, enabled Shadyside to score again late in the half. Taking possession at the Shenandoah 18, Howell needed just two tries to record his third six-pointer, this one covering 13 yards. Hammond’s conversion made it a 34-7 Orange lead at intermission.

Howell closed the Shadyside scoring via his 57-yard jaunt early in the third, which precipitated Holenka to begin emptying the bench.

“Hopefully this game serves as a light switch for us. We need to turn it on and get better. We need to keep improving our passing game. It’s a combination of things with our passing: the receivers need to do a better job, at times we need to have our line protect better and we must make better reads,” Holenka said. “Although, I am not pleased with how we played tonight, I am happy to be 4-0. Going into the season, I thought we might be sitting at 2-2.”

The Tigers O-line of Jacob Spencer, Zach Meadows, Colton Campbell, Cory Banco and Hunter Hammond was exceptional. The Tigers’ defense was spearheaded by Scott Hammond, Howell, Matt Krupa and Price.

The Tigers remain at home Friday against a quality Toronto squad. Shenandoah, coming off an 0-10 season, falls to 0-4 and will visit Barnesville the same night.