Shady Side shuts down Freeport
A cluster of three touchdowns in less than two minutes of the first quarter Saturday afternoon gave Shady Side Academy enough of a cushion to post a 28-0 victory over Freeport at James Farrell Stadium.
Other than that flurry of scoring activity, the game was played on somewhat even terms defensively.
Shady Side, rated sixth in the latest Trib Total Media Class AA poll, limited Freeport to 57 net offensive yards.
Meanwhile, Freeport's defense limited the Indians to a lone first down in both the second and third periods and caused losses in 16 of Shady Side's 35 rushing plays.
The victory before a large homecoming day crowd gave the Indians a 5-0 record, tied with Kittanning for first place in the Allegheny Conference.
Freeport slipped to 1-4 as both teams have played exclusively conference encounters thus far.
“We grew up today three times what we do in a normal game,” Freeport coach John Gaillot said. “There's kids banged up that refuse to come out, and they're still making plays.”
Shady Side coach Dave Havern is happy with his team's defensive consistency, but insists more work needs to be done.
“I'm not real happy; I didn't think we played well,” Havern said. “Other than that spate of good plays, our offense has lapses of concentration and mistakes we shouldn't be making at this time of season.”
A 53-yard run by Jarred Brevard set up the first Indians touchdown, a two-yard plunge by quarterback Chuck Calabrese with 3:10 to go in the opening quarter.
After Freeport was forced to punt, Tyrel Hill's 24-yard return set up a 23-yard Shady Side touchdown drive in three plays. Brevard's eight-yard run with 1:44 to go in the first quarter made it 14-0.
On Freeport's next play from scrimmage, Jackson Fitzgerald took a pass interception 25 yards to increase the Shady Side advantage to 21-0 with 1:31 left in the quarter.
“Jackson Fitzgerald's been doing that all year,” Havern said. “He's just a fine football player, and he plays four different positions. We've been pretty much consistent on defense.”
The Yellowjackets recovered four Indians fumbles as Brandon Hochbein, Justin Brestensky, Chandler Nichol and Logan Thimons all picked up loose footballs.
But the Freeport offense couldn't cash in, entering Shady Side territory just once the entire afternoon, and that was only to the Indians' 43.
The Yellowjackets have been shut out for the past eight quarters, but Gaillot is optimistic success will come at some point.
“Guys have stepped in for our injured players, and we moved the ball a bit,” Gaillot said. “We had a lot of sophomores and a makeshift line, but we're getting better, and that's all we ask.”
Brevard led Shady Side with 112 rushing yards on nine carries.
The final score came on a 37-yard pass from Calabrese to Matt O'Connor with 10:02 left in the game.
George Guido is a freelance writer.