Shady Side Academy blanks Kittanning
Shady Side Academy's place in the Allegheny Conference is a bit lower than its players consider acceptable.
But as they showed Friday night against host Kittanning, the Indians are just as defensively stingy as their more successful predecessors.
Shady Side Academy (6-3, 6-2) handed Kittanning (4-5, 4-4) its first shutout in a 21-0 victory at David “Red” Ullom Field. The win improved the Indians' conference-best 15.6 points-allowed-per-game average, and it secured third place in the Allegheny.
“We usually don't like competing for third,” junior linebacker and tight end Chuck Calabrese said. “We want that No. 1 spot. But that wasn't the hand we were dealt. So we did what we had to do.
“We played our game tonight — we pride ourselves at Shady Side Academy for defense.”
Kittanning, which averaged 30.3 points per game before the loss, finished fifth in the conference.
Coach Dave Havern praised Indians defensive coordinator and associate head coach Dave Szlachetka.
“He's not only the best guy I've ever met, he's the best defensive coordinator I've met,” Havern said. “(Kittanning's no-huddle spread offense) is not an easy one to prepare for. ... But (Szlachetka) had pretty much every eventuality covered.”
The Indians chewed huge chunks off the clock with a steady run offense. Junior running back Jarred Brevard finished with 27 carries for 115 yards, and quarterback Matt Granato added 78 yards on the ground.
Until it went into a prevent defense in the final minute of the first half, Shady Side Academy held the Wildcats to 21 yards of total offense.
The Wildcats' biggest gain, a 51-yard touchdown run by quarterback Kevin Barnes early in the first quarter, was negated by a holding call.
“You can't make that many mistakes and expect to be in it against a good team,” Kittanning coach Frank Fabian said. “And credit is due to them because they capitalized on our mistakes.”
The Wildcats' largest loss came in the second quarter when a snap sailed over Barnes' head. Zac Croyle recovered the fumble at Kittanning's 2-yard line for a 22-yard loss.
That poor field position set up Shady Side Academy's second touchdown. Sterling Henry attempted to punt from his end zone, but the Indians managed a partial block.
Tucker Gilman grabbed the loose ball at the 3 and scored to put Shady Side Academy ahead with 1:02 left in the half.
An equally frustrating second half followed for Kittanning, which made big gains with its hurry-up system but turned the ball over on five of its possessions.
The giveaways stifled several promising drives — a fumble ended a drive that reached Shady Side Academy's 14 early in the fourth quarter, and an interception in the end zone capped Kittanning's final drive.
“Maybe we got in a little too much of a hurry, and I'll take the blame for that,” Fabian said.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1303.