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Shady Side Academy's Louis Berry IV (1) runs the ball against Highlands during the second half of their game at Golden Rams Stadium in Harrison on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014.

The football season ended sooner than Shady Side Academy football coach Dave Havern expected as the Indians suffered a 38-0 loss at Mt. Pleasant in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.

“We were happy to make it to our eighth straight playoff appearance,” he said. “It’s a testament to our kids’ will and determination and the overall strength of the program.

“Unfortunately, as has been the case the last few years, we expend so much energy getting into the playoffs that we are usually pretty banged up by then.”

That was the case against Mt. Pleasant as SSA dressed 31 players for the game, eight of them being freshmen.

“We were pretty depleted man power wise,” Havern said. “Our guys gave us a great effort again, but Mt. Pleasant was bigger, stronger and faster than we were. They gave us a pretty good spanking.”

He said his team faced adversity thanks to injuries this season.

“We had low numbers to start and then, by the third game of the season, we had lost both starting tackles, a starting corner/split end/holder and a starting running back. Our center/outside linebacker was basically playing with one good arm and the other strapped down.”

The injuries were a big part of the Indians losing two in a row midway through the season.

“We could have packed it in with plenty of excuses about our bad luck, but we didn’t. … They wanted that eighth trip to the playoffs.”

According to Havern, the seniors willed the team into the playoffs.

“We had a fine, fine group of senior leaders. They wouldn’t quit on each other, and that was a great thing to see. It made a 6-4 year a real positive experience. We’re losing some quality kids, and they’re quality kids on and off the field. We’re hoping that some of our younger guys get the message.”

The seniors who played their final game for SSA were Patrick Loughran, Lewis Berry, Jackson Fitzgerald, Skyler Baxter, Alex Fazioli, Logan Platt and Zach Kosbie.

Marty Stewart is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-782-2123 or [email protected].

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