NEW PHILADELPHIA - In running to a pair of Ohio Division VI state championship games and having its way for the most part in Region 23 since 2000, Shadyside is making its mark in Region 21 this year.
And while there have been many hero's along the way, Saturday night's regional semifinal victory may have provided the biggest, and most unexpected for Coach Mark Holenka's Tigers.
With junior quarterback Chase Kinemond suffering a first-quarter knee injury, freshman Austin Dorris took over and scored touchdowns while Brooks Ramsey rushed for 180 yards and Shadyside took advantage of a pair of turnovers deep in Youngstown Christian territory to post a stunning 27-24 victory against the Eagles in front of a large crowd at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium.
The victory sends the Holenka's 9-3 record squad, which lost in last year's state championship game, to its first Region 21 championship game next Saturday night at a site to be determined against Western Reserve.
"This is really a great feeling," Holenka said. "We lost 11 seniors from last year and we knew coming into the season that we had our work cut out for us, but we also knew the kids taking over were just a notch below and could get it done.
"And (Saturday) they got it done."
Shadyside actually trailed 17-14 at the half, however, with Ramsey running over people and Dorris sticking the ball into the end zone. Youngstown Christian, which finished 1-9 last year, could only watch as its season came to an end at 10-2.
While Dorris scored three touchdowns, his biggest carry of the night came with just 2:01 to play when he faked a handoff to the left, tucked the ball in, and raced 17 yards down the near sideline on a third-and-17 call to get the first down.
Ramsey added another first three plays later and the Tigers were celebrating another playoff victory.
"Austin Dorris did an amazing job coming in for us and taking over," Holenka said. "We overcame a lot of adversity, but these kids just did a great job. I felt like our defense controlled things, but we gave up a few big plays and it almost cost us in the end.
"We didn't capitalize on a couple things early on, and let them get ahead. Penalties and a turnover hurt us in the first half. We had more holding penalties (Saturday) than we have had all year. We just didn't do it all season long, that's all I can say about that.
"They came out in the second half looking to put the stake in our hearts, but we had a great offensive game plan and I really am not sure that they ever stopped us."
Shadyside's defense got the job done early, stopping the Eagles near midfield before senior standout Matt Hammond broke through and blocked a punt, setting the Tigers up on the enemy 43.
Ramsey rumbled 20 yards on first down before Youngstown Christian was looking at a third-and-nine from the 19. Kinemond took off to the right for an 11-yard pickup and the first, however, he took a helmet to the knee and was forced to the bench.
On second-and-goal Dorris faked a handoff to the right and turned and rumbled six yards to the left into the end zone for a 6-0 lead. Shadyside decided to go for two, but the pass was short.
A big play set the state for Youngstown Christian to take the lead on its second possession of the contest. Facing a third-and-nine, quarterback Emmit Underwood escaped pressure and dumped a short pass across the middle to DeVaun Adams.
The Tigers defender went for the ball, allowing Adams to scoot 51 yards down the sideline to the other 11.Three plays later Underwood found Drevon Green with a dump pass to the right for an eight yard score at 4:01. Dom Polito's PAT gave the visitors their first lead of the night.
A Shadyside fumble two plays later gave the Eagles a short field to work with and added to the advantage. But the Tigers' defense did do its job, stopping Youngstown Christian twice inside the one before Polito's 22-yard field goal made it a 10-6 game.
D.J. Shoemaker's punt pinned the Eagles back inside their own 10 with a Hammond sack and a motion penalty putting the ball at the one. On third down Underwood took the snap and went up the middle only to fumble at the 4 with Shoemaker recovering for the Tigers, setting up a first-and-goal.
Freshman offensive lineman Jacob Spencer barreled up the middle for the score on the first play, with Kinemond reentering the game and handing off to him at 5:45. Cody Hudson's point-after put Shadyside back in front by a 13-10 margin.
But it turned out to be short-lived as the Eagles needed just three plays to cover 57 yards with Anthony Abeid breaking up the middle untouched for a 47-yard scoring run just 30 ticks after the Tigers had reclaimed the upper hand. Polito's PAT turned it back into a 17-13 Youngstown Christian lead.
Shadyside had another chance with Kinemond leading a march all the way down to the enemy 13, however, a holding penalty and a sack pushed them all the way back to the 32. With under a minute showing Holenka went for it, with Kinemond's pass falling incomplete.
The big news on the play was that Kinemond was again helped off the field, walking straight to the locker room, and never returned.
But Dorris was fantastic, rushing for a pair of second quarter touchdowns and key first down late that was a difference maker.
Dorris' first score came on a third-and-five from the 10 with 3:01 to go in the third to give the Tigers the lead for good. Hudson's boot made it 20-17.
Shadyside drove all the way down to Youngstown Christian four on its next possession only to give the ball up on downs at the 16 following a fourth down sack.
But another fumble recovery inside the 10, this time at the six, once again turned things around. And again it was Dorris, on a spinning turn, going in from six yards away at 8:23. Hudson again hit the PAT and it was 27-17.
The Eagles, however, did not go away easy. Having gained just eight second-half yards with 4:40 to play, Youngstown Christian moved 83 yards quickly with Underwood hitting Darien Townsend from four yards out and Polito cutting the margin to 27-24 with 2:21 to play.
But after having the kickoff go out of bounds and giving the Tigers the ball at the 35, the Eagles were never able to send their offense back onto the field.
"The two turnovers deep in our territory killed us and we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot," Youngstown Christian Head Coach Brian Marrow said. "But with all of that we still had a chance at the end.
"Shadyside is a great football team with a great coaching staff and this was just an awesome football game. Last year we were 1-9 and no one expected this playoff run out of us, but I cannot say enough about our kids, our coaching staff and our school.
"It was just a great season."