Week 8 of the high school football season normally means you can expect at least a few things in Belmont County, the leaves are turning, the temperatures are getting cooler and Shadyside's football team is fighting for another trip to the Ohio Division VI playoffs.
Well, this fall has been no different in any of those regards, with the exception that Coach Mark Holenka's Tigers have added an addition component, trying to finish off the school's first 10-0 regular season since 1977.
The next opponent in line to try and take that away from the Orange-and-Black will be Buckeye Trail (4-3), which will invade Fleming Field at 7 Friday for Shadyside's final regular-season home finale.
It will be the first meeting of the two schools on the gridiron since the Tigers rolled to a 42-12 victory over the Warriors during the first round of the Region 23 playoffs in 2006, which was also Shadyside's first trip to the Ohio Division VI state championship game.
"This is a great challenge for us," Trail's Dale Bloomhall said. "Shadyside is a class program that seems to be in the playoffs every year. They always have a very good coaching staff and kids."
Holenka's squad is currently fifth in Region 21, and it may very well take an unbeaten season to even think about a home playoff game in a very competitive field.
Last Friday night proved different outcomes for the teams with the Tigers picking up a prized 14-0 victory against West Virginia Class A power Wheeling Central while Trail dropped a 24-21 decision to Fort Frye, severely damaging any chance they had at making the playoffs.
"We got ourselves in a hole early, fought back, but came up short last week," Bloomhall added. "But it is the same thing that happened to us against Barnesville."
While Shadyside has proved all season long it can score points, led by senior quarterback Chase Kinemond, a bevy of running backs the likes of Brooks Ramsey and Chris Littell and receivers, senior Cody Hudson and sophomore Austin Dorris, the defense has also been outstanding.
The Tigers' blanking of the Maroon Knights last week was their second of the season, and they have allowed seven points or fewer four times and not more than 14 in any game.
Shadyside managed only 202 yards of offense against Central, however, even bigger was the fact they limited the potent Maroon Knights' offense to just 208 and forced their guests to put the ball on the field five times, recovering three of them.
"Give credit to our kids, these young men understood the scheme going into last week, and Central changed things up a little bit early on and caught us a little off guard, but we adapted,'' Holenka said.
"When they did go to their spin series we handled things very well. They studied very hard and bought into what we wanted to do, and probably the biggest thing is that they did a very good job of tackling."
Dorris scored both of the Tigers' touchdowns last week, one on a 20-yard reception from Kinemond and the other on a 13-yard fumble return for six.
"We are in a different place than Shadyside is," Bloomhall mentioned. "It has been a struggle to get back to respectability for us, but we are coming along and we will get there.
Meanwhile, turnovers were also a problem for the Warriors, who outgained the Cadets by a 303-236 margin, but turned the ball over four times and allowed a long kickoff return for a touchdown.
Quarterback Morgan Dougherty threw for 216 yards and a pair of scores, but was also intercepted three times in that game. And what might a Buckeye Trail team be without a "Starr" on the roster. Junior Lane Starr rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown and added four catches for 99 stripes and another score last week while senior C.J. Beaver had 78 receiving yards and a score.
The Warriors were actually down 24-6 in the game before scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter, before falling short in the end.
"They are a big team with some real quality football players," Holenka said. "And they have the kind of talent to win games. Right now every game is important to us with second level playoff points.
"They are important in the sense of getting a home playoff game, but in the end all of the fields are 100 yards long and I really don't know how much that matters, even though it is a very nice thing for the team and community."