Shady Side Academy looks for strong finish after beating Fort Cherry

Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 12:24 AM

The up and down football season for Shady Side Academy was on the upswing as the Indians beat Fort Cherry, 21-6, in a Class 2A nonconference game in front of a big homecoming crowd Saturday afternoon.

It’s the second straight win for Shady Side Academy, which improved to 5-2 overall.

The Indians came out of the gate flying this season, winning their first three games.

After a nonconference loss to Neshannock, SSA then made the decision to forfeit a conference game at Apollo-Ridge because the team did not have enough healthy players.

“It was an incredibly tough decision,” Shady Side Academy coach Chuck DiNardo said. “We took some injuries and, with our roster size, we weren’t able to handle it.

“I felt terrible making that decision. I felt terrible for our seniors, too. Forfeiting that game ended up killing our conference win streak that extended back over two years.”

The forfeit seemed like a distant memory in the second quarter Saturday when the Indians scored on consecutive possessions.

Junior quarterback Josh Castro hit senior wide receiver Mason Tomlin in stride down the middle of the field for a 44-yard scoring pass.

“I was hoping it was a good ball,” Tomlin said. “Josh Castro does a great job of putting the ball where it needs to be. Every time I go into a game with him, I know he’s going to do what he needs to do, so all I have to do is execute it.”

Right before halftime, senior running back Eddie Faulkner powered into the end zone on a 1-yard run to put SSA ahead 14-0.

Castro scored for Shady Side Academy on a 1-yard leap in the third quarter to make it 21-0.

Winless Fort Cherry (0-7) moved the ball at times, but several drives ended because of key penalties.

The Rangers finally got on the board with only their third touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter when junior quarterback Jake Tkach connected with sophomore wide receiver Dylan Rogers on a 16-yard scoring pass.

Castro threw for 98 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 73 yards and a score.

Faulkner had 78 yards in offense and a score while Tomlin also scored for the Indians.

“We like our guys that we have,” DiNardo said. “They can really do some fun things in space. They play off of each other, and it helps us manage the load distribution a little bit.”

The see-saw season for Shady Side Academy may have more highs coming up.

If the Indians win at East Allegheny in Week 8 and at home to Avonworth in Week 9, SSA will win the Allegheny Conference for a second straight year.

“It’s one of those goals you set in Week Zero and all through camp,” Tomlin said. “End goal is to win WPIALs, but you have to check off one at a time. We have to win these two games first.”

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