Tigers take old-school approach to top Reds

BELLAIRE – It doesn’t appear there will be any new souvenirs of the Nelson Field goal posts as both remained intact Saturday afternoon.

But, don’t think for a minute that Shadyside isn’t still partying like it’s 1943 after its beloved Tigers’ football team went to Bellaire and captured a cherished 46-29 victory against the Big Reds before a standing-room only turnout.

The game of football – and the world – has changed drastically since the two bordering communities last met on the gridiron, but the Tigers took the game back to its roots with a ground attack that would have made Woody Hayes seem like a coach who wanted to throw the ball all over the field.

You hear football coaches talk all the time about being able to run the ball offensively and stop the run defensively. That wasn’t just another cliche as it pertained to the Tigers and Big Reds.

Bellaire probably had a good idea of what was coming from the Tigers. However, the Shadyside offensive line and three-headed backfield beast proved knowing what’s coming and stopping it are completely different things.

Shadyside amassed an mind-boggling 420 yards and scored six of its seven touchdowns via the run.

“All the credit goes to our offensive line,” said Shadyside junior quarterback Austin Dorris. “Anyone can run the ball, but you’ve got to be a man to block. And, they were men today.”

The Tigers only attempted three passes all afternoon, completing one for a 45-yard touchdown to Chris Littell.

Shadyside had two backs – Dorris and junior Eric Howell – surpass the 100-yard mark. Dorris finished with 165 yards and two scores on 19 carries. Howell notched 163 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Littell finished with 92 yards and two scores on 15 carries.

“They manhandled us … absolutely manhandled us,” said Bellaire head coach Jose Davis. “That’s just the bottom line.”

The Tigers’ offensive front was firing off the ball all afternoon. Shadyside had only two three-and-outs and 20 first downs.

The line, which is comprised of Cory Banco, Zach Meadows, Jacob Spencer, Matt Hammond and Colton Campbell, deserved the game ball from head coach Mark Holenka.

“I have to tip my hat to those kids,” Holenka said. “Those kids did a great job.”

Banco, the senior leader in the trenches, gave the credit to the coaches.

“We treated this like every other game,” Banco said. “We’ve been to the playoffs, so we know what it’s like to be there. We came out focused and ready to play. We love it when we hear the stats about how many yards rushing we had.”

Howell, who dedicated the game to his late grandfather, scored the final touchdown of the first half, which gave Shadyside the lead for good on a 51-yard burst.

“I thought we could run the ball, but I didn’t think we’d run it as well as we did,” Howell confessed. “I have to give the credit to the offensive line because they opened up the holes and came out ready to play.”

Dorris, who was a guest at Ohio State University last Saturday, showed many times why he’s attracting the eye of Division I coaches.

However, it was his final run, a 35-yard touchdown that was his most impressive. It appeared as if he was going to be stopped for little or no gain near the line of scrimmage, but he kept his legs churning and before he knew it was off to the races for a touchdown.

“He dragged us down the field,” Davis said. “They lined up, said, ‘we’re tougher than you’ and that’s how the game went.”

That score made basically deflated the Big Reds’ sideline.

“This was Shadyside vs. Bellaire,” Dorris said afterward. “We live two minutes away, but we never get the chance to play each other. Every single person, from both towns, who has ever played would understand. We just wanted to represent for the guys who wore the jersey before us.”

Bellaire certainly was able to do what it wanted to do offensively through the air as well, but the Tigers shortened the game and they got the only two turnovers in the game.

The Big Reds can score points in bunches. They’ve been doing it for years. Spencer Badia and Nick Patrone are a lethal combination in the passing game. Badia passed for 275 yards and four touchdowns, with six balls, 137 yards and two touchdowns going to Patrone. Kenny Hess also got into the act.

Better days are certainly ahead for Bellaire. The Big Reds have a lot of talent, but Davis is going to challenge his kids this week as they prepare for what lies ahead.

And plenty, for both teams, lies ahead.

This is by no means the end of the season. The Big Reds begin Buckeye 8 play this week at home when Edison visits. Plenty of goals, opportunities and missions remain for the Big Reds, who are now 1-2.

Shadyside, meanwhile, makes its home debut Friday night when winless Shenandoah visits.

“We’ll enjoy this for a little while, but (the coaches) are going scouting tonight, so we’ll get back on the ground quickly,” Holenka said.