Shadyside overcomes River, penalties for 6th win
SHADYSIDE — You sometimes hear coaches reference an expression that getting the win is all that matters.
Shadyside head coach Mark Holenka may subscribe to that theory at times. However, Friday night wasn’t one of them.
He watched his Tigers escape with a 14-12 victory over a game River squad on Homecoming at Fleming Field, but he was far from satisfied.
Shadyside was held to 282 yards of offense, gashed for three plays of 50 or more yards and penalized 13 times for an astounding 150 yards, including seven fouls of the 15-yard variety.
“I take (the blame) for many of the penalties, but I also know I am embarrassed to be a part of this team as it is right now,” Holenka said. “They’re going to be disciplined (this coming week), and I just hope the parents want the discipline because they’re going to have to come and explain to me that they don’t deserve it.”
Many of those Shadyside penalties came in the second half when it failed to score. The fouls helped extend Pilot drives, but they didn’t need a lot of help in that department.
The Pilots (2-4) arrived in Shadyside with a plan to limit the Tigers and standout running back Wyatt Reiman’s offensive opportunities. They carried out their plan to perfection, too.
River milked the clock, ran the ball effectively, hit some big plays, but they also failed to cash in on a pair of red-zone trips and were victimized by a fumble in the middle stages of the fourth quarter.
“I think our kids discovered they’re capable of playing against anyone, and I believe we came together (Friday) … big time,” Pilots head coach Mike Flannery said. “We had a plan to come out and run the ball and it was working, so we stayed with it.”
River trailed 14-6 at halftime. Actually, the Pilots jumped out first thanks to junior Brody Lollathin ripping off a 56-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. A couple of plays later, Austin Creamer plowed in to the end zone from 6 yards out. The PAT, however, was wide after it was attempted from the 8-yard line because of a penalty.
Shadyside wasted no time in answering. The Tigers scored on their first two possessions. Reiman, who had another solid effort with 138 yards, found the end zone for the 19th time this season.
On its next possession, the Tigers showed a mixture of run and pass. Sophomore Ben Wach continued to play well in place of the injury Rhys Francis. He threw a 30-yard touchdown to junior Elijah Brock. Reiman added his second PAT of the game and the Tigers appeared to be off and running.
“I have to tip my hat to River,” Holenka said. “I have to tip my hat to the coaching job that they did to keep the game close until the fourth quarter. They game planned for what they had to do with what they had on the field, and I thought they did an excellent job. I tip my hat to Mike and his whole staff. River deserved a better fate than it got.”
After a scoreless third quarter, River — taking advantage of the aforementioned Shadyside penalties, took over in the middle stages of the fourth quarter on its own 40.
Similar to the first quarter, the Pilots busted a big gainer. Austin Creamer, who finished with 112 yards on just 13 carries, went 57 yards to the Shadyside three. He capped the drive by plowing into the end zone from a yard out with 5:10 to play.
Needing the 2-point conversion, Flannery spent his final time out. Sophomore quarterback Kabel Isaly rolled out and threw back into the middle of the field for a completion, but the ball never broke the plane, leaving the score at 14-12.
“I thought he caught in the end zone, but (the officials) ruled that the ball didn’t get in,” Flannery explained. “It was a well-officiated game. I have to look myself in the mirror to see if I did the best job. I am probably more proud of these kids and their effort (Friday) than I’ve been in 39 years of coaching.”
Still, the Pilots had another opportunity. After the Tigers were set back by a false start, illegal chop block and yet another unsportsmanlike conduct, they were forced to punt.
However, River took over on its own 25 with just 3:03 showing and nary a timeout with which to work. The Pilots managed to pick up one first down, but back-to-back sacks by the Tigers took their toll on Isaly and the clock. Eventually, the drive ended on downs and Shadyside took over.
“We give up too many explosion plays that really hurt us,” Holenka said. “We play sound defense for 62 of the 65 plays (in the game), but those other three plays put ourselves behind the 8-ball and it shouldn’t be that way.”
River returns home next Friday after three weeks on the road to celebrate Homecoming against Belpre.
Shadyside, meanwhile, remains in limbo about a Week 7 opponent. Frontier informed Shadyside it won’t be playing its scheduled game due to COVID-19 reasons. Shadyside is actively looking for an opponent, but Holenka indicated maybe his team could use the open week.
“Maybe we need the week off, so we can just come (to practice) and do somethings that we need to do and (the players) should probably bring their water bottles,” Holenka said.