ShareThis Page
Sports

Shady Side Academy to face Ford City

| Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007

Shady Side Academy is one of the teams many people think will contend for the Allegheny Conference title this season. The Tribune-Review News Service ranked the Indians as the No. 9 Class AA team in its preseason WPIAL rankings, one spot higher than the two-time reigning Allegheny Conference champion Ford City Sabers.

Shady Side Academy coach Dave Havern calls the hype surrounding his team “rash.” But, with several three-year starters on his roster, Havern also said that his team “is out of excuses.”

If Shady Side Academy (1-0) is going to take the next step and finally make the playoffs out of the Class AA Allegheny Conference, a victory over Ford City (1-0) will help its cause.

The Indians will get their shot at the reigning section champions at 7:30 p.m. Friday, when they travel to Ford City.

Shady Side Academy started nine sophomores two seasons ago. Havern said his team had “18 players and a place kicker” that year. This season, the Indians have 38 students on their roster, including quarterback Dan Rooney.

Ford City's defense sacked Rooney five times for minus-48 yards en route to a 34-14 victory last season.

“We've taken it on the chin the past couple years playing younger kids,” Havern said. “We're bigger and stronger. But, our main concern is — more than anything else — them believing in themselves.

“When you lose for a while, it's a little bit of a habit to break.”

To break that habit Friday night, the Indians can't have a repeat performance of last season, when the Sabers rushed the ball for over 300 yards.

Carter Haponski, who broke loose for a score on the opening kickoff of Ford City's victory over Wilmington last week, had an impressive 14-yard touchdown run against Shady Side Academy last season.

“We've seen him before, believe me,” Havern said of Haponski.

Haponski's special teams touchdown was not a fluke, according to Ford City coach John Bartolovic.

“We work hard on special teams every day,” he said. “Joe Stivason is our special teams coach, and he does a good job. We don't throw a bunch of sophomores on special teams. We put our best players out there, and in the last five or six years, we've returned a lot of kicks.”

Shady Side Academy and Wilmington are similar in that each team has bigger linemen than Ford City. The Indians are led by two-way tackle Mike Farrell (6-foot-7, 285-pounds).

However, Ford City won the battle in the trenches last week, which Bartolovic described as a pleasant surprise and attributed it to his team's speed.

As successful as Ford City's offensive linemen were, Bartolovic still sees a lot of room for improvement.

“I don't think we ran the ball well inside,” he said. “The line made a lot of mistakes. But, the type of team we won against, I think we did a good job.”

For Ford City to improve to 2-0, the Sabers will have to stop sophomore running back Brian Nickel, who rushed for 67 yards and two touchdowns in Shady Side Academy's 16-3 victory over Freeport last weekend.

“Our kids know how big this game is,” Havern said. “We're anxious to see what we got.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me