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Football Lookahead: Shadyside Making Ohio Playoff Runs a Habit

November 14, 2013
By SETH STASKEY , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Shadyside has been here.

Actually, it's made getting to the second round and beyond in the Ohio playoffs a habit.

Mark Holenka and his undefeated Tigers aren't looking to kick that habit anytime soon either.

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For the first time in its illustrious playoff history, Shadyside will meet fellow OVAC member Caldwell in the postseason and that comes Saturday night in New Philadelphia at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7.

The survivor of the encounter will advance to the Region 21 championship game, which will be played Nov. 23 at a site to be determined and announced on Sunday by the OHSAA.

On the other half of the bracket sits a meeting of the top seed Glouster Trimble and fourth-seeded Steubenville Catholic. That game is being played in Zanesville.

While many expected Shadyside to pass its first postseason test with relative ease, Caldwell went on the road to Malvern and posted the school's first playoff victory.

"It's really hard to understand the feeling unless you were a Caldwell Redskin," Caldwell coach Josh Perkins said. "We've played football for 110 years and to get that (playoff) monkey off our backs is just an incredible feeling. We're glad it's finally come to an end and we can put the talk about never winning a playoff game to rest."

The Redskins are actually in their seventh appearance in the postseason. Their last tournament game came in 2009.

The Tigers have been to the second round of the tournament in all but one of their appearances in the playoffs, but this is the first time they've reached this level at 11-0. The school's had three 10-0 seasons.

"It took us two tries to get there, so that is what it is," Holenka said. "It's another game and another chapter inside the book we're trying to get through. Our kids wanted to come back and make amends for what happened in 2012."

The Tigers success this season - and since the turn of the century - is something that Perkins and the Redskins have certainly noted.

"Shadyside has a great football tradition," Perkins said. "This is another great Shadyside football team that's extremely well coached and has a lot of great players. We realize when you get to this point in the season, every team left is good and there are no gimmies or byes. Our kids are excited for the challenge and realize they have a chance to play a team that is a legitimate state-title contender."

Both teams like to run the football, but they go about in slightly different ways.

The Redskins employ a spread, which Holenka compared to St. Clairsville because of how they get to the line and wait for the coaches to signal in the play.

"They show no huddle and they've shown some tempo trying to speed up the game, but that usually doesn't bother us because we don't always need a huddle with so many calls being pre-determined," Holenka said.

Shadyside, meanwhile, has gained 3,710 yards on 475 rushes and scored 57 touchdowns with its backfield stars running behind its talented and physical offensive line.

"It's Shadyside football ... enough said," Perkins said. "I don't expect anything less from them than being really good. They're definitely a lot different looking (in terms of their approach) than when I was an assistant coach and we played them. There's no hiding what they are and that's a quality team."

The Redskins' offense is led by left-handed quarterback Tanner Clark, who is a threat with his legs and arm.

He's run for 1,066 yards and 14 touchdowns. He's completed 68 of 122 passes for 1,047 yards and 10 touchdowns with nine interceptions.

Last week, against the Hornets, he passed for two touchdowns and ran for one.

"Tanner has come a long way," Perkins said. "I don't know if he thought he'd be a quarterback, but he bought into the coaching and he's done a great job."

The chief option in the Redskins backfield is sophomore Bricker Lori. He's gained 1,309 yards and scored 15 touchdowns on 146 rushes.

When the Redskins go to the air, Tanner Baker has been the top target. He has caught 38 passes for 566 yards ad seven touchdowns. John Carpenter, who caught a touchdown last week, has 14 receptions for 319 yards and four touchdowns.

"Caldwell does what it does really well," Holenka said. "(Lori) is a really nice player. They're not exceptionally big, but you can't always tell about size from the tape. Their running game is clicking and if you miss a tackle or two, they're certainly fast enough to take the distance."

The Tigers defense has been staunch.

All-Ohio candidate Zach Meadows leads the way at defensive tackle. He's complemented well by ends Scott Hammond and Eric Howell. Both ends have been wrecking crews against opposing backfields. Cory Banco has also been impressive along the defensive front.

The linebacking corp for the Tigers consists of Chris Littell, Jake Duvall and Matt Krupa, who is one of the team's top tacklers. In the secondary, Austin Dorris, Logan Price, Luke Nardo and Robert Newhart patrol.

Shadyside's backfield, which consists of Dorris at quarterback, Howell at running back and Littell at fullback, has combined to gain an astounding 3,216 yards and scored 52 touchdowns.

It's the first time in school history that the Tigers have had a trio of rushers surpass the 1,000-yard mark. Dorris went over the barrier in the regular season, while Littell and Howell joined into the mix last week.

Dorris has run for 1,142 yards and 18 touchdowns.

If there's been one area where the Tigers have had a question mark it's in the passing game. But, they've done enough to keep teams honest and make them at least respect their ability to throw.

Dorris has completed 37 of 75 passes for 625 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Caldwell defense is led by senior Kameron Rayner, who has more than 150 tackles from his defensive line spot. Austin Schockling has 111 stops and 8.5 sacks. Lori is an impressive player at linebacker along with senior Andrew Minosky.

 
 

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