Sto-Rox beats Shady Side Academy, pushes way into WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals
Friday, November 5, 2021 | 11:56 PM
After Friday’s game, Sto-Rox’s football players lined up in the end zone, got down and started doing push-ups.
It was far from a punishment.
Instead, the Vikings went up and down, loudly spelling out their ultimate goal in the 2021 season: S-T-A-T-E-C-H-A-M-P-S.
No. 2 Sto-Rox (11-0) took a step in that direction, scoring touchdowns on nine of its first 10 drives in beating No. 15 Shady Side Academy, 61-8, in a Class 2A first-round game at Peters Township High School.
“(The push-ups) are about keeping us grounded.” Sto-Rox coach LaRoi Johnson said. “We’re going to stay grounded and push that ground until we get where we’re supposed to be and where we want to be. … Those push-ups remind us of what it takes to do those things, to go from where we started to where we want to be.”
The Vikings found themselves exactly where they wanted to be to start the game. On the first play from scrimmage, Damontay Smith hit Bulldogs’ quarterback Max Wickland, jarring the ball free. Zyaire Young recovered the fumble and returned it to the 3-yard line.
“The nerves rest a little bit once you make a big play like that,” Johnson added. “It allowed us to play downhill. We were able to come out and get a good start.”
It was the first of three turnovers in the first four offensive drives for Shady Side Academy (5-6), which managed only 106 yards of offense.
“You play against a team this good, and you certainly can’t help them out,” Shady Side coach Chuck DiNardo said. “They certainly don’t need any more help than they already have.”
Jaymar Pearson followed the turnover with a 3-yard touchdown run, and he didn’t stop there. By halftime, the senior tailback racked up 200 rushing yards, as Sto-Rox led 41-8. He finished with 14 carries for 224 yards and four touchdowns.
“(It’s) the five up front,” said Pearson, who picked up his first Division I offer from Eastern Illinois last week.. “The center, guards and tackles, they make my job easy for me.”
As good as Sto-Rox was on the ground, they were equally impressive through the air. Josh Jenkins passed 11 of 16 for 284 yards and three more scores.
“He’s an athlete,” Johnson said. “As he continues to mature at quarterback, he’s starting to learn to step up in the pocket and know when, sometimes, you’ve got to sit in there and take the hit to get the ball out. He did a great job.”
Sto-Rox built a 21-0 lead on Pearson’s run, a 1-yard run by Jenkins and another 26-yard burst from Pearson. But the Bulldogs showed signs of life, as Max Wickland found Deacon Durham for a 36-yard touchdown.
A good moment for a young team that features only two senior starters.
“It was great to see and something we knew we could do,” DiNardo said. “We are very young, and with young teams, you make a lot of mistakes. But we made self-inflicted wounds.”
After that, the Vikings rolled, scoring on a 7-yard run by Zay Davis, 26-yard and 31-yard catches by Jaymont Green-Miller, and 85-yard and 17-yard runs by Pearson. Jenkins tossed his third and final touchdown to Tae’Mar Hull, a 68-yard connection that capped the scoring.
For Shady Side, Wickland passed for 111 yards but was sacked seven times, fumbled once and was intercepted once. The Bulldogs ran for minus-5 yards and were limited to minus-9 yards of offense after halftime.
“This is something to motivate us for the offseason,” DiNardo said. “And with a lot of guys coming back, we’ll have a lot of motivation.”
Sto-Rox meets No. 10 Mohawk next Friday at a site to be determined in the Class 2A quarterfinals. The Vikings will hope for another round of push-ups afterwards.
“We played as one,” Pearson said. “When we play as one, we’re a team that can’t be stopped.”
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