WHEELING - It wasn't about being in the right position for Wheeling Central on Friday night. The Maroon Knights flew to the football.
But for Shadyside, 2 or 3 yards wasn't good enough. The Tigers wanted - and got more - much more.
Austin Dorris led three backs with 100-plus yards and Shadyside's defense limited Wheeling Central to a total of 154 in a 34-7 demolition by the Tigers (7-0) at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Wheeling Central’s Brian Campbell (11) is gang tackled by Shadyside’s Eric Howell (26), Matt Krupa (34) and Robert Newhart (88) on Friday night.
Photo by Alex Kozlowski
It all came down to Shadyside's domination at the point of attack on both sides of the football. An experienced offensive line paved the way for Dorris to go for 190 and a pair of scores. It opened holes for Chris Littell to pick up 129 on 13 carries. And, oh, by the way, it helped Eric Howell gain an even 100 and two touchdowns on 21 tries.
All told, the Tigers averaged 8.3 a carry on 57 attempts for a total of 424 yards. For good measure, Howell also added a pair of 2-point conversion runs as Shadyside, the No. 1 team in Ohio Division VII, Region 25, spotted Central a 7-0 lead but scored the game's final 34.
''What we were able to achieve in the Bellaire game, because of their offense, we needed to control the clock,'' Tigers coach Mark Holenka said. ''Then we realized we were able to play this type of game.
''The offensive line is the best defense we've had because the offense controls the ball. Those guys, I don't know how they do it.''
For good measure, Dorris completed 2 of 3 passes, including a 50-yard touchdown on a third-and-10 play early in the third quarter. The Maroon Knights never were able to get the Tigers off the field when they had the chance, allowing six third-down conversions on eight tries.
''We played hard, but they are very good,'' Central coach Mike Young said. ''They ran through our tackles and credit to them for that, and a credit for their strength.
''I said before that they're big, strong, aggressive and a very good football team. They showed that.''
Adding injury to insult, Maroon Knights standout Parker Henry went down fighting for extra yardage on a pass reception near the end of the first half. Henry, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury, suffered some sort of damage to the other knee and the worst is feared.
''It's definitely too early to tell, but it's not promising,'' Young said. ''But yet you don't know.
''You've got to get an MRI and figure out what it is.''
After Isaac Rine hit Henry with a 16-yard touchdown pass on the game's first drive, Shadyside went to work. Dorris broke off a 47-yarder on the Tigers' first snap and six plays later Howell went in from the 12.
After Central went three-and-out, Shadyside moved 86 yards in 10 plays, culminating in a Dorris 7-yard run. With the 2-point Howell run, Shadyside had a lead for good.
''I've got to tip my hat to my guys because I am very pleased with our performance,'' Holenka said. ''We came out focused and got caught off guard on that first drive, but we were able to be resilient enough to come back and start playing with a little more intensity and tighten the bolts up a little bit.''
Dorris went in from 44 on the next Shadyside possession to end the first half, then went right down the field to start the second half, ending as Dorris found Littell over the middle.
Defensively, the Tigers were staunch, led by the play of nose tackle Zach Meadows, who on two occasions knifed into the backfield and brought down Rine less than a second after the ball was snapped.
''He's impressive coming through that 'A' gap,'' Holenka said. ''If he were 6-foot-3 where he has some height, he'd be big time.
''Somebody's missing the boat just because he's short.''
Shadyside put the finishing touches on things as Howell went in for a 6-yard score at 6:44 of the fourth.
''We're in contention to be in the playoffs and we've won some big ballgames,'' Young said. ''(This) was a big one and we were outmanned.''