West Shamokin routs South Side Beaver, inches closer to playoff berth
Behind three players who experienced many of the lows in West Shamokin's football history, the Wolves reached new heights Friday night.
West Shamokin (5-2), which only a year ago snapped a 46-game losing streak, defeated South Side Beaver, 32-14, in a non-conference game, and then learned that it almost surely clinched the school's first-ever playoff berth because of Springdale's 39-0 loss to Avonworth.
The only way the Wolves can miss the playoffs is if Leechburg were to defeat them next week and win their finale against undefeated North Catholic.
“I knew this could happen from the time we were playing as little kids,” junior Andrew Wingard said of the Wolves, who've won more than four games for the first time in school history. “We pounded people in pee wee ball, and I knew we could in high school.”
Wingard was the night's star, scoring a defensive touchdown and two receiving touchdowns. He started the night's scoring off when he picked up a South Side Beaver fumble and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter.
The Wolves' defense forced the Rams (0-7) to go three-and-out on the next possession, and then proceeded to put together an 8-play, 82-yard drive. Wingard capped the drive when he caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Alex Lasslo. Lasslo, who completed 9-of-11 passes for 208 yards, stood tall in the pocket and took a hit to make the throw.
South Side Beaver got on the board when running back Quae-Shawn Thompson swept left, untouched, from 6 yards out, making the score 12-6.
But the Wolves answered quickly when, on the next play from scrimmage, Lasslo again connected with Wingard, this time for 59 yards, making the score 18-6 at the half.
Wingard had four receptions for 101 yards and ran for 52 yards on nine carries.
The Rams opened the second half with a 13-play, six-minute drive but came up with no points. The Wolves took over and had their own long drive.
This one, which lasted 11 plays and almost six minutes, ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by junior running back Zac Horner. Horner owned the drive, carrying the ball six times for 32 yards.
He had 76 yards on 17 carries on the night.
West Shamokin coach Jon McCullough said he knows how hard his trio of play-makers can be to defend.
“We have a lot of studs,” he said. “Our whole team played well and worked their butt off.”
McCullough, who's in his first season as head coach but served as an assistant at the school for four seasons, said he never thought about playoffs while coaching the Wolves.
“I was just focused on getting better,” he said. “We just wanted to keep taking a step forward.
“Our kids are coming of age.”
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.