Shadyside looks to continue its mastery of Bridgeport Friday

SHADYSIDE — A pair of Belmont County rivals collide Friday night when Shadyside welcomes Bridgeport to Fleming Field for a 7 o’clock kickoff.

The state-ranked Tigers (6-2) enter the contest having won 16 of the last 18 meetings with the Bulldogs (3-5), including seven straight in the series. They are ranked seventh in the latest Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Division VI, Region 23 computer ratings. The last time Bridgeport defeated Shadyside was in 2010, but the Tigers rallied for a victory when the two squared off in the state playoffs that season.

Mark Holenka’s squad is coming off a 46-22 win over Bellaire at Nelson Field last Saturday in a game that saw the Tigers lead 26-0 at the half only to watch the Big Reds make it 32-22 after three quarters. Meanwhile, Gary Krol’s Bulldogs are still reeling from a 27-20 setback to Carrick, Pa., last Friday on Perkins Field inside Bill Jobko Stadium in Brookside.

“We always stress to the kids to take it one week, one game at a time,” Holenka said when asked how he and his staff will keep the Tigers from looking past Bridgeport to the week 10 showdown with Linsly. “I really don’t think kids look that far ahead.

“We need to look at what can happen within a game,” he continued. “Look at what River did to us then we came back and then look at what Bellaire nearly did last week. We need to take care of what we do.”

The Tigers have displayed a balanced offensive attack this season as senior Alex Krupa and junior Connor Banco have formed a two-headed monster in the backfield. The two have combined for 1,645 yards and 28 touchdowns. Banco (844) took the team lead last week with a 150-yard output. Krupa has 801. Banco also has 18 touchdowns and tied a school record with five (4 rushing, 1 receiving) against Bellaire. Krupa has reached the end zone 10 times.

Anthony Coggins surpassed the 1,000-yard mark through the air last week when the junior completed 11 of 20 attempts. He now has 1,074 yards and 13 touchdowns on 79 of 147. He has, however, been picked off nine times. His favorite targets are Banco (18-243-4tds), sophomore Kelly Hendershot (16-237-1), classmate Sam Merryman (13-193-3), Krupa (13-118-2) and junior Austin Price (12-252-2).

“They are a well-balanced team offensively, so we will need to do a better job of coaching and tackling,” Krol said when asked about the Tigers. “Defensively, they get after you so we’ll do our best to try and protect (quarterback) Tino (Kusic). We need to shore up our offensive line.”

Kusic has set numerous school records thus far this fall. He also owns the Ohio Valley record for TD passes in a game when he tossed eight against Beallsville, with all eight coming in the first half. For the year, the junior has completed 136 of 238 attempts for 2,530 and 27 touchdowns. He has been intercepted 10 times, with six of those coming in last week’s loss.

Senior Jeremiah Booker is also re-writing the receiving record books. He has landed 71 passes for 1,291 yards and 15 touchdowns. He caught a season-high 18 balls last week, but failed to reach the end zone for the first time. Other top receiving threats are seniors Kane Kasprowski (28-533-5) and John Simmons (10-253-6).