By Kaylee Lindenmuth
SHENANDOAH - "Our kids are playing their asses off, there's no question," said Shenandoah Valley head coach Kevin Keating following the Blue Devils' 30-0 loss to the Mustangs of Midd-West.
In the first matchup between the two teams, and only the third game ever for the Mustangs, the Snyder County team displayed dominance against their coal region foe Friday night.
"We're just getting physically handled up front every Friday night," said Keating. "But that's my responsibility, I take full blame."
Throughout the night, Devils' QB Joseph "Junebug" Karvois found himself fleeing a crowd of white jerseys most times he dropped back, stifling Shenandoah's passing game.
Keating sees the solution as the weight room.
"There's no shortcut. It's the weight room, and it's gotta be the weight room from November until the first day of football season the next summer," said Keating. "Football, even at the high school level, has gone beyond lifting a couple months of the year."
"Until we get stronger, I don't see how we can break out of this terrible slump we're in," added Keating. "Nobody's gonna help us. We've got to find a way to get out of it ourselves."
Keating also noted difficulties lying in the program's numbers, or lack thereof. 22 are listed on the roster, as listed on MaxPreps.com. According to Keating, a single player coming out of the game can have a ripple effect across the board.
"Our quarterback got cramps, so that had a ripple effect. That effected three special teams, and it goes on and on and on," said Keating.
Midd-West's scoring run began in the first quarter, scoring a run with 6:07 left in the first. Their next score came in the second, with 11:46 remaining, giving the Mustangs a 14-0 lead.
A 57-yard run by QB Marc Piccioni 1:20 from halftime created a 21-0 game.
A minute later, the Mustangs backed the Devils up against their own endzone, forcing a punt. The snap soared over the punters head, through the back of the endzone for a safety, leading to a 23-0 game.
Midd-West's final score would come in the third, with 1:33 remaining in the quarter, another run to set up the final 30-0 score.
A week off to prepare
Midd-West had an off week leading into their matchup against Shenandoah, which head coach Brad Hatter says was used focusing on their own team.
"The week off was used to focus on ourselves. There was no opponent," said Hatter. "We had some things come out of the Blue Mountain game, where we felt if we would've played more disciplined football, taking care of our business, maybe we might not win the game, but it's not what it was."
"We felt like we made a lot of mistakes in the Blue Mountain game that hurt us, and if we could take care of them, we felt like we'd be in a little bit better of a position," added Hatter.
Honoring one of their own
Midd-West's game began with their team captains walking out, holding a #71 jersey for the coin toss. The Mustangs won, and elected to receive, and their first play was a symbolic one. The offensive line held the jersey in the center's position, taking a delay of game penalty which Shenandoah declined.
They were honoring the memory of Karon Franklin, a recent graduate and former teammate of many on the current Midd-West team.
"[He] played with a bunch of our kids last year, he graduated last year, and he was helping out with our midget program, and he passed away this week, and so that was kind of an emotional thing we were dealing with for the week of practice and everything," said Hatter. "That's how the kids wanted to honor his legacy, and show that he and his family were in our thoughts and prayers."
SV Gold Out
For Shenandoah Valley, Friday's game was their Gold Out Game, supporting SV's Mini-Thon, which will be held in April. The efforts, led by SV students, will benefit children and families who have been impacted by childhood cancer.
A stand was set up, where shirts, buttons, and wristbands were sold. Students also roamed the stadium for donations.
Devils' cheerleaders wore the Gold Out shirts, as did many spectators, while band members wore buttons supporting the cause.