Deer Lakes defeats illness-stricken Shady Side Academy
Shady Side Academy lost to Deer Lakes, 33-13, last Friday, but the troubles actually began the previous Tuesday.
That’s when Shady Side’s tight end and best defensive player, Jeremy Gordon, became sick. Then, defensive tackle Grant Hrabobsky fell ill. By Thursday, Shady Side had lost its quarterback, Brody Nasse, to an illness that knocked several students out of school.
“It was just a bug going around,” said Coach John Cappa.
So Cappa replaced Nasse with junior quarterback Nick Petrilli, and replaced Gordon with both a sophomore and a freshman.
The replacements held up into the fourth quarter, when the game was tied at 13-13, but Deer Lakes broke through with a touchdown run and Shady Side went to the air and served up an interception return for another score and the game got away from the Indians.
“Before you knew it, there were two minutes left,” Cappa said. “It was a little bit of a setback, with the record and our standing in the conference, but as a team I’m not sure it set us back that far. We had a couple of injuries and a couple of new kids playing, and they played pretty well.”
Cappa said it was a tough decision on whether to play the weakened players or not.
“Just because a kid wants to be part of the game, if he’s not feeling well that’s when injuries occur and you lose him for more games,” he said. “We felt we could win with what we had out there. We were in position to do so.”
The loss dropped Shady Side to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the Allegheny Conference. The win was Deer Lakes’ first of the season.
“We were holding them on defense. We just couldn’t get anything moving offensively,” Cappa said. “We had a couple plays open and we didn’t execute. If we do, the game’s different. We played hard and found some other players for depth and good competition in practice.”
Shady Side scored in the first half on a 52-yard pass from Petrilli to Brian Deal. The two players hooked up in the third quarter on a 3-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. Deal caught a third pass and was Shady Side’s most effective player.
Next up is Ford City, Shady Side’s homecoming opponent. The 2:30 p.m. game Saturday will be difficult for Shady Side, since Ford City is 3-1 and coming off conference wins against Freeport and Burrell.
“The key will be to contain their quarterback, J.J. Bartolovic, the coach’s son,” said Cappa. “He’s a drop-back passer who can run out of the pocket. They have a huge tight end, who’s a D-1 prospect, and a huge line. They also have skill kids who can catch the ball and fabulous special teams.
“You have to contain that and score on their defense, and they fly around, use different fronts and come at you.”
After a strong start, that included wins over Quaker Valley and Mars, out of its first three games, Shady Side is 2-2 and …
“We’re ready to go,” Cappa said. “We still like our team. The kids are upbeat. They have a lot of confidence. Winning’s contagious. We won early and got a taste. When you lose the way we’ve been losing you don’t like that, but the kids are winners. I can see the improvement they’re making.”