Shadyside has chance to exact revenge

Shadyside is a perfect 10-0 in first round Ohio High School Athletic Association football playoff games on Fleming Field in Tiger Town.

The undefeated Tigers (10-0) will have their hands full while attempting to stay unblemished on their home turf Friday night when a battle-tested Berlin Center Western Reserve (8-2) invades Belmont County for a Division VI, Region 21 quarterfinal contest.

Shadyside, which accomplished only the school’s second 10-0 season, finished the regular season ranked fourth in the final computer poll, while Berlin Center Western Reserve was fifth.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Neither team is a stranger to the postseason as the Tigers have qualified for the postseason 14 times, doubling that of the Blue Devils. Shadyside has advanced to Week 11 every year but once since the turn of the century, while Berlin Center Western Reserve is in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

This will be the second meeting all-time between the two squads, with the Blue Devils scoring a 49-7 knockout punch is last year’s regional championship game at Woody Hayes Quaker Stadium in New Philadelphia’s Tuscora Park.

However, as both head coaches noted, that was last season.

“When we played them last year, we didn’t have (Chris) Littell or Chase (Kinemond) due to injuries,” Shadyside head coach Mark Holenka said. “That’s our starting running back and starting quarterback. Our kids realize that.”

“The good thing about playing Shadyside is that we are familiar with them,” Western Reserve head coach Andrew Hake said over the telephone earlier this week. “That’s relevant since we just played them last season. If we had played them five years ago, it wouldn’t be relevant.

“They are a much older, more experienced team that is still well-coached and they have a strong tradition,” Hake said of Shadyside.

Holenka said the Blue Devils’ size, which played a vital role in last year’s contest, is definitely on his mind.

“Worried? I can’t sleep at night. They are huge,” he divulged. “They used that size to their advantage last year, and we can’t afford to let them control the clock and control the game this year.”

Defense has been a key factor in Shadyside’s perfect run through the first 10 weeks. The Tigers have only allowed 63 points, with most of them being scored after the first team has went to the sidelines. The stop troops have pitched four shutouts, three in the last four weeks.

“Overall, I think we are a better team on defense than last year because we are quicker,” Holenka added. “Sometimes that helps against teams that spread the field, but we’re hoping that speed kills.”

Sophomore ends Scott Hammond and Eric Howell have kept teams from running outside, while junior tackles Zach Meadows and Cory Banco anchor the middle. The linebackers are a solid group led by junior Chris Littell, senior Alex Quinn and sophomore Austin Dorris. The secondary consists of seniors Ian Baker, Chase Kinemond, Cody Hudson and Dillon Tomlinson.

Offensively, Shadyside is averaging 35.5 points per outing.

Kinemond is the engine that makes the Tigers purr. He has completed 63.7 percent (58 of 91) of his passes for 1,010 yards. He has tossed 17 touchdowns and has only been picked off three times, with all of those coming in a Week 2 win over Monroe Central. On the ground, he has gained 377 yards on 51 carries and reached the end zone five times.

“Chase has had a great year,” Holenka praised. “It hasn’t even been a year since he tore his ACL. Next week will be one year. He has worked really hard to get to this point.”

When Kinemond does take to the air, he looks for either Hudson or Dorris as his main targets. Hudson has team-highs of 27 receptions, 446 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dorris has caught 25 for 406 and half-a-dozen six-pointers. Littell has six catches, but two have gone for touchdowns.

“Cody and Austin form a big duo on the outside,” Holenka said of his tall receivers. “You just can’t concentrate on one of them because of their size.”

Senior tailback Brooks Ramsey leads the ground gainers with 730 yards and three touchdowns.

Littell has added nearly 400 yards and seven scores on the ground, while Howell has also filled in admirably. When the Tigers get inside the five, they go to their ‘jumbo package’ of sophomore Jacob Spencer and the aforementioned Banco. Spencer has three TDs on eight carries, while Banco has reached the end zone on his only attempt.

Shadyside’s offensive line consists of Meadows at center; Banco and Spencer at the guards; and senior Branden Krock and sophomore Colton Campbell at the tackles. Baker is the tight end.

The Tigers also have a weapon in Hudson as their placekicker and punter. He has kicked 41 of 42 PATs and knocked through one field goal.

While the Tigers have a wealth of talent back from last year’s game, the Blue Devils return six players on defense and five on offense.

Berlin Center Western Reserve started the season 0-2 with losses to playoff participants Cuyahoga Heights (D-V) and Malvern (D-VI), but has reeled off eight straight wins. The Blue Devils have outscored their opponents 276-145.

This will be BCWR’s first road playoff game since since traveling to Norwalk St. Paul three years ago.

Western Reserve is led by quarterback Nick Allison. He has completed 105 of 198 passes for 1,489 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has thrown seven interceptions.

His favorite targets are Tim Cooper and Danny Rosati. Cooper, a 6-0, 170-pound senior, has snagged 33 catches for 438 yards and three touchdowns out of the backfield. Rosati, a 5-10, 150-pound junior, has landed 25 passes for 357 yards and one TD. Senior Parker Warren (5-9, 155) is the other wideout.

Cooper is also the Blue Devils’ leading rusher with 815 yards and nine six-pointers on 133 carries. Dan Zilke, a 5-11, 195-pound junior, has picked up 785 stripes on 110 totes and reached the end zone nine times.

Protecting Allison and opening holes for Cooper and Zilke are sophomore center Hunter Powell (6-3, 340), senior right guard Bryan Deal (6-3, 240), sophomore right tackle Matt Mace (6-1, 305), senior left guard Micah Marra (5-9, 220), senior left tackle Adam Badgett (6-0, 225) and junior tight end Jon Timko (5-11, 170).