Cardinals win back to back championships
Shepherdstown Middle School once again has won the MAC championship. They defeated the rival Charles Town Panthers for the second consecutive year. The score was 17-8.
Coach Kevin Holmes explained that this is the third championship appearance in five years for the Cardinals, who hail from the smallest middle school in the county.
Holmes attributed at least part of the Cardinal success to their practice against Charles Town’s unorthodox offense called the polecat.
“We had practiced extensively for this offense leading up to the championship game because they had showed it to us several times in games past,” Holmes explained.
On the first play from scrimmage, middle linebacker Malaki Meadows stepped up and put his helmet on the ball separating it from the ball carrier giving Shepherdstown the ball at the Charles Town 29 yard line.
After several tough runs, Malaki Meadows plowed through the Panther defense for a five yard touchdown run.
Other key players included Ahmad Lesense, who had a 10 yard carry to set up the touchdown run. Hailey Dillow added the point after to give Shepherdstown a 7-0 lead.
On the next possession, Trey Barlow took a counter call and ran 55 yards down the left sideline for a first down inside the Panther five yard line. Ahmad Lesense finished off the drive with a one yard touchdown plunge to give the Cardinals a 13 to 0 lead. Dillow added the extra point to move the lead up to 14-0. Dillow pulled through again with a 25-yard field goal to end the first half,
Dillow finished the season 13 for 16 on extra points and 2 of 3 on field goal tries.
“She was a big part of our team this season,” said Holmes. “Her touch backs and deep kicks always gave us the advantage with field position.”
No points were added to the scoreboard in the third quarter but in the fourth, Charles Town put together a five-play 50 yard scoring drive through the air. Frankie Amore fired a dart to the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown and the two point conversion was good with Amore connecting on a short pass in the end zone to make the score Shepherdstown, 17; Charles Town, 8.
A diving interception by Trey Barlow at the Cardinal 40 sealed the game and the Cardinals had clinched their back to back titles.
The offensive line of Brady Chrisman, Bryce Hott, Richard Fuller, Kyle “Gooch” Kutcher, Nkosi Jackson and Joey Slaughter did a great job all season, Holmes said. Ahmad Lesense rushed for 16 touchdowns this season and Malaki Meadows added five touchdown runs.
Jaden Butts was the captain and quarterback of the team and did a great job managing the offense. Holmes shared that it was Butts’ quarterback sneak that gave Shepherdstown the win over Charles Town in their second meeting. Ben Maiden and Jaden Wilke did a great job of blocking for the power offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, Shepherdstown gave up more than one touchdown only once this season. They recorded four shutouts and had nine shutouts in the last 16 games.
Rico Hicks, Kyle Webber and Sean Gossard did a great job on the defensive side of the ball keeping ball carriers from getting outside the defense, Holmes said.
“We pride ourselves in playing smash mouth football,” said Holmes. “Up until today we had done a great job of taking care of the ball this season. We had more fumbles (three) today than we had in the first seven games combined.”
Holmes continued, “We try to play great defense and control the clock running the ball. Our offense is pretty basic. You won’t see any fancy Wing T or spread offense from SMS. We line up in I formation or Power I and say stop us.”
Coaches Stephenson, Chrisman, Kidrick and Fraley, along with Holmes, spend a lot of time on fundamentals because a lot of these young players have never played on this level before.
Holmes explained that “the new rule of 90 minutes a week of full contact in practice didn’t hurt us as much as we thought it would.”
He went onto say, “We had two returning starters so it was difficult getting kids prepared mentally and physically for the season in three weeks. We like to get at it and be physical. That’s what we do.”