Shanahan opens season with powerful win over W. Philly, 48-6

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By Chris Sheehan, Correspondent, The Times

The Bishop Shanahan defense closes in on a West Philadelphia runner — the Eagles were able to shut down the Speedboys for almost the entire game.

DOWNINGTOWN — With the end of summer near, a few things are certain:  school is starting soon, the night air feels crisp, and high school football is back under the lights.  That was the scene this past Friday as Bishop Shanahan rolled over West Philadelphia before a large crowd at the Jack Mancini Field in a crushing 48-6 victory in their non-league home opener.

The game started with West Philadelphia winning the coin toss and selecting to receive — and that might have been the high point of the night for the visiting Speedboys, as right from the start it as a struggle for the visitors.

The Eagles kicked to West Philly and the first play of the drive resulted in an offside call against the Speedboys.  Though an understandable mistake for the first offensive series it became a sign of things to come for West Philly whose lack of cohesion resulted in more penalties and missed opportunities.

The Eagles, on the other hand, showed a very strong game right from the get-go, holding their visitors to a three and out on the first possession.  West Philly’s bungled punt left the Eagles in great field position on the 25.  They didn’t hesitate on second down as Shanahan’s Connor Whelan swept right, turning the corner for a touchdown and posting 6 points to the scoreboard.  The kicker converted the extra point to give the Eagles an early 7-0 lead.

Shanahan’s defense was aggressive the entire game.

West Philly received the ball on the kickoff, returning it to their own 42. The Speedboys’ running back core showed major talent as Zachariah and Messiah Payton switched on and off in the backfield exerting power up the middle. Despite the Paytons best efforts, Shanahan’s defense remained solid led by linebacker Liam Dearing.

The second quarter began as the Speedboys picked up on their own 45. Two bad snaps over the head of quarterback Andre Caldwell put West Philly at 4th and 35, which resulted in a punt.  Eagles quarterback Danny DiBeneditto led the offense down the field both with his arm and his legs making some good plays on his own feet.  Near the goal line, DiBeneditto took a snap and threw a screen pass to receiver Dan Bathon.  Bathon danced around the field making a few cuts that resulted in another Shanahan touchdown. The extra point left the score 14-0 with 7:28 left in the half.

The Eagles kicked off to the Speedboys which was muffed by the returner but was luckily recovered to start their drive on their own 25. Two dropped screens and a botched run put West Philly in another three and out. The punt rolled to near the 50 where Shanahan would start.

The first play was a monster run by Shanahan’s big man Liam Dearing ending on the seven yard line where it was now first and goal for the Eagles.  Eagles offensive coordinator Lex Bruno called for runs to Dearing the next two plays to see if he could punch it in, but the Speedboys held their own and brought up 3rd and goal.

The scoreboard tells the story.

A pass was called and the defense played lock down goal line defense and no receivers could shake their defenders.  However, quarterback Danny DiBeneditto ran it to the pylon for another Shanahan touchdown with 3:22 left in the half.  Adding the extra point brought the score to 21-0.

The Speedboys got the ball back on their own 25 where a facemask penalty on the first play pushed them way back into their own territory. A long ball pass down the sideline was attempted on second down but fell incomplete to receiver Jordan Davis.  On 3rd down a nice pass over the middle was caught but the Eagles were there for the gang tackle, which held the Speedboys to a 3rd and 15 situation. Another long ball to Davis fell incomplete and West Philly was forced to punt.

A great punt return made for the Eagles by Derrick Glendening, brought the Eagles to the Speedboys’ doorstep on their own 10. The next play on a jet sweep, receiver Andre Moffat took it to the corner and scored with 36 seconds left in the half.  The score, 28-0 at the half and Shanahan would return the ball at the beginning of the second half.

The second half was a much faster paced football game as the run game was utilized by both teams throughout.  It was a long drive when the Eagles got the ball back as they worked down the field with runs made by Andrew Smyth, Dan Bathon, and Andre Moffat. A long pass from DiBeneditto to Bathon set up the Eagles on West Philly’s 10-yard line where on the next play Moffat took it to the pylon on a jet sweep yet again to put the Eagles up 35-0.

Another three and out occurred when the Eagles kicked off to West Philly, which forced the Speedboys to punt the ball back. A quick drive down the field resulted in another touchdown for the Eagles by Connor Whelan. The score was now 42-0 with 2:03 left in the third quarter.  At this point Shanahan’s Coach Meyers decided to work his second team into the game.

West Philadelphia got the ball back on their own 30 which was the beginning of the Tyrell Smith era. He was randomly subbed in throughout the game but toward the end of the third and all of the fourth quarter Tyrell Smith showed major potential as a power back.

Bulldozing his way down the field it took at least three to four Shanahan defenders to bring this stocky little ball of iron to the ground. However, one man cannot win a football game on his own and this long drive ended in another punt for the Speedboys.

Shanahan took over and marched down the field where it started to get a little chippy in the game. Two offsetting personal fouls on both sides of the ball and a facemask call the next play occurred at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Shanahan rolled down the field where David Schaeffer put the final points for Shanahan on the board as it was now 48-0.  A two point conversion failed and Shanahan kicked off to West Philly.

This was the Speedboys best drive of the game, even though it came so late. The offense pushed Shanahan down the field with Tyrell Smith carrying the ball 4 consecutive times.  Behind the power running of Smith they advanced to the goal line.  On the next play Smith scored a well-deserved touchdown and attempted a two point version but failed leaving the score 48-6.

Bishop Shanahan plays their next game away at Glen Mills Friday August 31, 2017. They play their next home game the following Friday against West Chester East.

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