LATHAM Sept. 28, 2012 may wind up being a special date in Shaker football history.
The Blue Bison ran for more than 400 yards on their way to a 35-8 victory over Shenendehowa in Friday’s Class AA cross-divisional game.
The victory ended a recent string of blowout losses against Shen (4-1) and made Shaker (5-0) the lone undefeated team in Class AA.
“A lot of that had to do with the maturity of our team this year,” said Shaker coach Greg Sheeler. “Our kids played with a lot of confidence … and that was a big factor.”
Shaker never threw a pass against Shen, nor did it need to. Ryan Griffin, Tyler Oppelt, Kenny Jackson and quarterback Chris Landers combined for 325 rushing yards, and backup tailback Deven Koehler added a 65-yard touchdown run.
“We had called a couple of pass plays, but our quarterback (Landers) decided to run instead and it was the right decision,” said Sheeler.
Shen’s potent running game never got in gear against Shaker’s defense. Marcelino Christie, Corey Acker and Kyle Buss were limited to a combined total of less than 100 yards.
“Shaker put more defenders at the second level, which prevented us from using our speed to get to the outside,” said Shen coach Brian Clawson. “So, we had to do more running inside.”
The turning point came early in the third quarter. Trailing 21-0, Shen drove inside Shaker’s 10-yard line, but the Blue Bison defense kept the Plainsmen out of the end zone. A short time later, Griffin took off on an 85-yard touchdown run to expand Shaker’s lead to 28-0.
“I knew they (Shen) weren’t going to quit at that point,” said Sheeler. “But being up 28-0 and it was raining, I knew it would be difficult for them to come back.”
Koehler’s long touch-down run in the fourth quarter – his only carry of the game – made it impossible for Shen to rally. The best the Plainsmen could do was a 2-yard touchdown run by backup tailback Oliver Robinson with less than 50 seconds left in the game.
Shaker hosts Niskayuna Friday.
Shaker Shakoffense with 148 rushing yards and a touchdown. Landers gained 73 yards and scored twice, and Oppelt rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown.
The Blue Bison’s next goal is to wrap up the Liberty Division title – a feat they can accomplish Friday by beating Niskayuna in Latham.
“We’re not worried about the playoffs,” said Sheeler. “We’re just thinking about this week and what we have to do to beat Niskayuna.”