Reis Watkins stars as Shenango christens new turf with win over Union

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Sunday, September 13, 2020 | 12:29 AM


Gone is another natural grass field in the WPIAL as they rolled out the new turf at Frank Bongevingo Field at Glenn “Pop” Johnson Stadium at Shenango High School.

However, there was nothing artificial about how the host Wildcats opened up the new season with a 25-12 win over rival Union in a Big Seven Conference Saturday night special.

HSSN Class A No. 2-ranked Shenango dominated the line of scrimmage to the tune of 260 yards rushing while limiting Union to only 12 yards on the ground.

“We’re really proud of what we did in terms of getting real physical in this game,” Shenango third-year coach Jimmy Graham said. “We thought we could control the line of scrimmage and get the ball to our No. 4 and see what happens.”

No. 4 for the Wildcats is senior Reis Watkins, who split time between running back and quarterback.

Watkins finished with 30 carries for 212 yards and a touchdown, plus he completed 4 of 12 passes for 36 yards and a score.

“We’re not 100 percent one dimensional right now,” Graham said of the amount of carries for Watkins, “but we will ride our horse as long as we can.”

Watkins will likely share time at quarterback with sophomore Shawn Gould until junior starting quarterback Santino Campoli returns from injury in a few weeks.

“I think everything is going well with his recovery,” Graham said of Campoli. “When he comes back, it does give us another element.”

You don’t have to be a chemist to realize the elements Shenango has now are pretty powerful.

The offense scored three first-half touchdowns on runs by Watkins and sophomore C.J. Miller along with a 13-yard scoring pass from Watkins to senior Ryan Lenhart.

The defense and special teams picked up the Wildcats four second-half points on two safeties, a bad punt snap when Union punter Jackson Clark slipped in the end zone after picking up the ball and when Scotties quarterback Tyler Staub was sacked in the end zone.

All of the Union points were scored on special teams. Braylon Thomas picked up a muffed punt by teammate Anthony Nealy and raced 65 yards for the Scotties’ first score of the season.

The second score came on a snap over Shenango punter Aidan Johnston’s head. The senior kicker tried to punt it near the goal line, but it was blocked and recovered by Ron Holmes in the end zone for a Scotties score.

While the Union ground game was shut down, the Scotties did have success through the air. Staub, a junior, was 13 of 25 passing for 174 yards, but he threw three interceptions, two to Shenango sophomore safety Hunter Lively.

Graham likes what he sees from his young team that only has six seniors on the roster.

“These guys took their lumps a couple of years ago when they were freshmen and we had to throw them into the fire. Now they’re juniors and they worked hard in the offseason and it showed a little bit tonight.

“We have some stuff to clean up, but they did a great job.”

Also Saturday night, Bishop Canevin defeated Imani Christian, 18-6, in a Class A Eastern Conference game. Xavier Nelson returned a punt 70 yards for a score and also caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Willie Banks-Hicks. Banks-Hicks also connected with Lasae Lacks for a 29-yard score. Banks-Hicks threw for 131 yards in the win.

Class A

Big 7

Shenango 25, Union 12

Union 0 6 6 0 —12

Shenango 7 14 4 0 —25

S: Reis Watkins 17 run (Aiden Johnston kick)

S: Shawn Gould 3 run (Johnston kick)

U: Jackson Clark 69 punt return (kick failed)

S: Ryan Lenhart 13 pass from Watkins (Johnston kick)

U: Ron Holmes -6 punt return (kick failed)

S: Team safety

U: Trevor Valenti safety

Rushing leaders: S, Reis Watkins 27-199, TD.

Passing leaders: U, Tyler Staub 13-25-174-0TD-3INT.

Receiving leaders: U, Anthony Nealy 6-129.

Eastern

Bishop Canevin 18, Imani Christian 6

Imani Christian 0 0 0 6 —6

Bishop Canevin 0 0 12 6 —18

BC: Lasae Lacks 29 pass from Willie Banks-Hicks (run failed)

BC: Xavier Nelson 70 punt return (run failed)

IC: 91 pass (run failed)

BC: Xavier Nelson 50 pass from Willie Banks-Hicks (run failed)

IC: 61 pass (run failed)

Rushing leaders: BC, Keyshawn Harris 8-100.

Passing leaders: BC, Willie Banks-Hicks 10-20-131-2TD-0INT.

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