Slowing Linsly running game key for Tigers
Two of the Ohio Valley’s premier small-school programs, which very seldomly play one another, are set to lock horns Friday night.
The Shadyside Tigers (4-0), who’ve yet to be really challenged this season, will roll out the red carpet for Linsly (1-3), which hasn’t won since week one when it rallied past Magnolia.
“This is an acid test for us,” said Shadyside head coach Mark Holenka. “They’ve played a really tough schedule and we understand why they play the schedule they do. Magnolia is by no means chopped liver, South is good, Alderdice is good and we know Wheeling Central is a thoroughbred. We’re like a breather kind of game for (Linsly).”
Cadets’ head coach B.J. Depew is by no means buying the idea that the Tigers are a “breather.”
“Shadyside is a great program and they’re really comparable to Wheeling Central because there is never a down year for them,” Depew said. “They really have no weakness on either side of the ball.”
The Tigers have cruised to victories over Strasburg, Monroe Central, Toronto and last week ran out to a 35-0 lead in the first quarter and subbed early and often in a lopsided victory against Shenandoah.
“I am pleased with our team,” Holenka said. “The kids have really responded to what we’ve asked of them at this point, and I think we’ve continued to get better, which is extremely important.”
The matchup within the matchup at Fleming Field will certainly be one to watch as the stingy Shadyside defense will have to try to contain talented Linsly tailback Chinelo Oparanozie.
“He’s certainly a concern,” Holenka said. “We’ve got to pursue, gang tackle and get him on the ground.”
Oparanozie has racked up 610 yards and scored seven touchdowns on 89 rushes thus far.
“We’ve faced Shadyside with good tailbacks in the past and they’ve always defended us very well,” Depew said. “They’re not afraid to load up the box to stop the run and dare us to pass. We’re really impressed with their linebackers (Alex Quinn and Austin Dorris).”
The Tigers may dare the Cadets to pass again since Linsly is preparing as if it will be without starting quarterback Jamison Murray due to injury. Sophomore Jibri Blount – son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Mel Blount – is preparing to be the starting quarterback.
“We’re awaiting some (medical test) results and decisions on physical therapy for Jamison,” Depew said. “We’ll put a plan together where we think Jibri can be successful without putting too much on his shoulders.”
The Shadyside offense has been scoring points in bunches, averaging 43.3 points a game.
Senior Chase Kinemond triggers the attack. He’s passed for 320 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s also a talented runner.
The brunt of the Shadyside ground game is led by senior Brooks Ramsey (27-157-2td), Chris Littell (15-152-3td) and Eric Howell (116 yards and two touchdowns).
The Tigers’ receiving corp is led by senior Cody Hudson and Dorris. The duo has combined for 20 catches for 310 yards and nine touchdowns. Also emerging as a playmaker, especially in special teams, is senior Ian Baker.
“Shadyside is a complete team,” Depew said. “It’s going to be tough for us to contain them. They’ve got an outstanding quarterback, who is extremely capable of leading them.”
Homecoming will be celebrated Friday night at Fleming Field as well. Both Holenka and offensive coordinator Mark Bonar will be escorting their daughters — Hayley and Karli — across the field at halftime.