By TRACY WATSON
SHADYSIDE - After advancing to the Ohio Division VI state championship game a season ago, Coach Mark Holenka's Shadyside squad has had a bumpy road to begin the 2011 campaign.
Friday night the Tigers (1-2) will play host to 2-1 Shenandoah in hopes of avoiding the school's first three-game losing streak since the 2004 campaign, and only the second since 1999.
Shadyside dropped a hard-fought, 13-7 decision to Imani Christian Academy last week while Coach Tim Wilson's Zeps were busy picking up a cherished 24-14 victory against arch-rival Meadowbrook. For the Tigers, it also marked a second straight missed opportunity to record the school's 500th victory on the football field.
''Their tradition speaks for itself,'' Wilson said. ''And you definitely cannot underestimate them because of their record.
''There is no question they will come out ready to play.''
The game will also be a homecoming of sorts for Wilson, who played for and graduated from Shadyside, and will be a head coach for the first time on the sod at Fleming Field.
Last year in Sarahsville, the Tigers pounded Shenandoah by a 56-6 count on their way to a 9-1 regular-season ledger.
But things have been a little different this season as Holenka tries to find a good mix and deals with the struggles of a pair of young quarterbacks in Chase Kinemond and freshman Austin Dorris. Both saw action last week, but they combined for 30 yards through the air.
Through three games, Shadyside has thrown for 206 yards, or 68 a game. But the running game has bee solid, averaging 170 a contest and is led by sophomore Chris Littell who has rushed for 168 and four touchdowns. Junior Brooks Ramsey has added 157 yards.
''Right now we are working on throwing the ball when we want to and not just when we have to,'' Holenka said. ''We just don't have a good confidence level there yet and we need to do that to be successful.''
The Ti-gers de-fense has been solid, allowing 450 yards in back-to-back losses to Mon-roe Cen-tral and last week to the Saints.
''You know when you play Shadyside that you are going to see a hard-nosed, physical and well-disciplined football team,'' Wilson said.
Led by senior running back Shane Crum and junior quarterback Eli Hurst, Shenandoah was able to erase a 14-0 second-half deficit a week ago and score 24 unanswered points.
Crum was nearly unstoppable, running for 158 yards and three touchdowns, while Hurt threw for 70 yards and what turned out to be the game-winning score.
Senior Derek Leasure is the main weapon in the receiving game.
''They are a very hard-nosed football team that is also well-schooled,'' Holenka said.
Wilson's Zeps have sandwiched victories against Frontier and the Colts around a 56-14 beating at the hands of Martins Ferry in Week 2.
''That was a big win for us last week,'' Wilson added. ''But we are still trying to put four solid quarters together and we haven't done it yet.
"I just don't think we are playing up to our potential.
''I am waiting for the game that we really come out and show what we can do, and I am hoping that is going to happen this week.''