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Shadyside, WCC set for pivotal matchup Friday

SHADYSIDE — Every year when Wheeling Central and Shadyside take the field against each other, it’s almost guaranteed to be a battle. This year looks be no different.

After starting the season 0-2, the Tigers captured their first win of the year after dismantling Magnolia 50-20, which also happened to be their first game on their new turf at Fleming Field.

“We played a little more error-free football and paid a little bit more attention to detail and that translated into a W,” Shadyside coach Mark Holenka said. “But it also probably has to do a lot with a little bit of improvement over a couple of losses. Once you get your rear end spanked a couple of times, your attention to detail becomes a little more precise, I guess.”

And paying attention to detail was certainly the case for quarterback Rhys Francis. The junior threw almost a perfect game as he went 11 of 13 for 208 yards and a touchdown against the Blue Eagles.

While Shadyside, is coming off its first victory, the Maroon Knights are searching for theirs.

Last week, Wheeling Central traveled to take on Parkersburg and came out in the first half strong as it built a 21-7 lead. Unfortunately, Parkersburg scored 31 unanswered points to run away with a victory.

Jordan Waterhouse paced the Maroon Knights with 144 yards and three touchdowns.

“Coming out of the gates is good, but finishing is more important,” Wheeling Central coach Mike Young said. “We got to find a way to finish and find a way to step up and be accountable. We got to find a way to put together four quarters and 48 minutes of football. That’s the challenge I have for my kids. That’s the challenge I have for our coaches in terms of putting together four quarters of Wheeling Central football.”

Along with playing Parkersburg, a Class AAA school, the Maroon Knights have opened their season with Poca, who went to the West Virginia Class AA quarterfinals a season ago.

The Tigers, have also face a pair of solid teams during the first two weeks. In Week 1, they fell to Martins Ferry (22-16) and fell to Bellaire in another close contest (20-13).

“I’m sure it’s going to be a battle,” Holenka said. “To this point of the season, we’re still limping to some degree, both of us as we’re both trying to find more of our identity. We started off rocky road with a couple of good teams and they did the same thing with a couple of really good teams. We’re both trying to find out just where we’re going to level off at and if we’re sometimes as bad as we look at some points or can we be as good as we hope to be.”

Wheeling Central has won the last five matchups. The past three, Central reigned victorious by a combined six points. The Tigers are seeking their first win since 2014 where they won 33-7.

“It’s the same scenario year in and year out with Shadyside and that is Coach Holenka and his staff do an excellent job of preparing their kids to play,” Young said. “It’s always been a battle. We’ve been very fortunate to come out on top in the past, but it’s been a battle until the end. We got to rally our troops and get ready to go over to Shadyside to play a heckuva Friday night football game.”

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