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Shady Side’s Sandoval stings Yellow Jackets

Written by: on Sunday, September 7th, 2008


FOX CHAPEL, Pa. – It is entirely possible to have a slugfest of a football game, and, unlike the game of baseball, the usage of the term does not connote an offensive shootout.


Shady Side Academy (2-0 overall, 2-0 Allegheny Conference) scraped and clawed its way to 202 yards of total offense (all rushing), and leaned on a stout defense to shut down Freeport (1-1, 1-1) to win 17-0 in Fox Chapel Saturday afternoon.


“Our defensive coordinator (Coach Szlachetta) is a fine guy,” said Shady Side head coach Dave Havern.  “We go in to each game with the mindset that we can shut the opponent out.  Sometimes, that’s a lofty goal.  But that’s our mindset.”


Consider the goal met, and despite allowing the Yellow Jackets to gain 200 total yards of offense, the Indian defense dug in when it mattered and didn’t break.


Example #1: Freeport drove deep into Shady Side territory late in the first quarter, the Indians’ 14-yard line, to be exact.  That’s when Alex Isenberg’s pass sailed into the waiting hands of Roman Sandoval, who returned the interception 95 yards for a touchdown.


At that juncture, Shady Side had not registered a first down on offense, and had less than 10 total yards to show for its efforts.  Yet, the blue and gold led 7-0.


Example #2: After blocking a Shady Side field goal to start the second half, Freeport drove into Shady Side territory once more, this time courtesy of an Andy Toersky (10 rushes, 64 yards) 37-yard jaunt.  But faced with a 4th-and-4 situation, the Indians turned the Yellow Jackets away once more.


“You’re always faced with adversity,” Freeport head coach John Galiot said.  “Good teams find ways to overcome that adversity.  I don’t know if we can consider ourselves a good team today.”


But the momentum had clearly shifted, especially when Shady Side got its ground game, spear-headed by Brian Nickel and Sandoval, revved up in high gear.


Late in the first half, four straight running plays by Nickel yielded 47 yards, and SSA was in business.  But, instead of scoring a touchdown, the Indians had to settle for a Sean Hannon 23-yard field goal.


The Indians added an insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter when Nickel (19 rushes, 144 yards, TD) scored from three yards out.  His output accounted for nearly 75 percent of the Shady Side offense this day.


Sandoval chipped in with 46 rushing yards on 12 attempts, and David Brown had two rushes for 14 yards for the victors.


Isenberg finished the game 7-of-18 for 67 yards and two interceptions.  Fullback Austin Shockey added 21 rushing yards for the Jackets, which saw seven different ball carriers touch the ball for 133 hard-earned yards.


Despite not completing a pass in four attempts, Havern remained adamant about the ground game.

“You have to run the (darn) ball,” he said.  “It sets the tone.”


And good defense doesn’t hurt, either.

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