Shadyside bounces back impressively

SHADYSIDE — Timing is everything.

As fate would have it, the Caldwell Redskins picked an inopportune time to visit Fleming Field.

The Shadyside Tigers, licking their collective wounds from their initial loss of the campaign a week ago at Meadowbrook, punished the Noble Countians to a tune of 41-7 Friday night. Much of the second half was played under OHSAA Mercy Rule guidelines.

The win propels Coach Mark Holenka’s Orangemen to 4-1 at the season’s regular-season midpoint. The impressive Homecoming Night triumph also provides much-needed momentum for a rugged three-game stretch which finds Shadyside taking on River, Wheeling Central and Bellaire in succession.

Caldwell, meanwhile, has fallen on tough times. The Redskins have lost four straight after a win in Week 1.

As is often the case, the Tigers’ winning recipe featured large amounts of stifling defensive play and an effective ground game.

The Shadyside offensive line — Caleb Davis, Ian Falcione, Zak Merryman, Andrew Jobe, Ryan Cain and Joshua Robinson — paved the way for Tiger ballcarriers to garner nearly 300 infantry stripes. The bulwark tandem of Alex Krupa and Connor Banco carried just five times each while freshman Jacob Visnic impressed in extended duty.

Defensively, meanwhile, the Tigers bottled up a one-dimensional Redskin attack. The visitors completed just three passes all evening.

The Tigers methodically pulled away from the Redskins, building a 14-0 lead after one quarter before taking a 27-0 advantage into halftime.

“After losing to Meadowbrook our kids were very business-like at practice this week. I was more concerned about all the distractions that go with homecoming,” Holenka said. “It was a good night. It is nice to put the train back on the track.”

“We still have to clean some things up. For one, we need to wrap better on our tackling,” he added. “But it was nice that we could get our starters out early and avoid any injuries. We had a lot of young kids perform well.”

The game was a mismatch just waiting to play out. Sophomore standout Kelly Hendershot help to ignite the Orange onslaught by pilfering a Caldwell pass on the game’s initial possession.

The hosts needed just five plays to march 56 yards to paydirt, capped by an eight-yard pass from Anthony Coggins to Sam Merryman with 6:31 showing in the opening quarter. Merryman booted the PAT.

The Tigers tallied again in the waning seconds of the first quarter following a nice punt return by Hendershot, carrying down to the Redskins’ 45.

Two snaps later, Banco broke free on a 36-yard scoring jaunt. Merryman added the PAT for a 14-0 Orange edge.

Midway through the second quarter Shadyside set up shop at its 22 following a punt. It took the Tigers just five plays to cover 78 yards with Krupa covering the final 30 with 6:47 left in the first half. The PAT was blocked.

Shadyside forced a punt on Caldwell’s ensuing possession. Starting at the Redskins’ 43, totes by Hendershot and Visnic advanced the hosts to the Caldwell 22, from where Banco again found the end zone. Merryman’s kick made it 27-0.

The Tigers upped it to 34-0 on their first possession of the second half. Coggins and Hendershot teamed on a six-yard aerial score. Merryman’s boot made it 34-0.

Caldwell slowed the Orange surge via a three-yard run by Chris Bjork with 11:52 remaining in the game. Mason Hanson added the PAT.

The Tigers closed the game’s scoring on a three-yard run by Visnic. Zeke Merryman booted the PAT.

“We have a very young team. We started a freshman quarterback and three or four other freshmen,” Caldwell second-year coach Grant Gaydos said. “But we knew Shadyside is a super team and that it was going to be a be challenge for us.

“But I was pleased with our effort. Our kids played hard,” he added. “There are several games on our schedule that we feel are winnable.”

The Redskins host Conotton Valley Friday.

Banco led the Tiger ball-toters with 97 yards. Visnic garnered 75 and Krupa delivered 57. Coggins completed seven-of-nine passes for 95 yards.

“Things get a lot tougher now, starting this week with River,” Holenka said. “Then we have Wheeling Central and Bellaire after that. We will see what we are made of at that point.”

At halftime, Lady Tiger softball star Kaitlyn Weaver was crowned Shadyside Homecoming Queen.