While Edison has made the state semifinals the last two years and those qualify for that category, the matchup with the Whippets was probably one of the bigger regular season games in quite some time for the Chargers.
Unfortunately for the Edison faithful, Shelby spoiled the senior night celebration and put this one away early, taking control in the opening minutes en route to a 43-0 victory.
Division IV No. 8 Shelby (7-0, 2-0) has been cruising along to start the season, scoring an average of more than 46 points per game coming in and not scoring less than 41 points in any of its first six games. The Whippets have also put up 55 points twice in that stretch, while now having pitched three shutouts on the defensive side of the ball.
Div. V No. 12 Edison (5-2,1-1) dropped its first game of the season to undefeated Firelands by a mere field goal, but then reeled off five in a row heading into Friday. The Chargers defense also posted two shutouts in their winning streak, but had no answers against a well-balanced Whippet team. In fact, last night the Chargers had trouble on both sides of the ball.
“I’m very happy for our kids,” Shelby coach Erik Will said. “And quite frankly 7-0, 2-0, with a chance to be 3-0 and 8-0, that’s the whole goal. Our job is to coach our kids, make sure they’re prepared, and to make sure they play until the end of the game. We’re just happy to get out of here with a win against a quality opponent.”
After an opening muffed kickoff started the Chargers at their own 5-yard line, three rushes later by Sam Stoll had gained 38 yards and Edison seemed to be ready to make something happen. However, the rest of that possession and six more in the first half netted just 11 additional yards. Edison’s seven first half possessions resulted in four punts, a lost fumble, an interception, and a turnover on downs. Stoll finished with 50 yards on 16 carries.
With the new look Sandusky Bay Conference bringing Shelby into the SBC fold alongside the Chargers in the Bay division, this could have been a rivalry-starting encounter that helps set the tone in the division for years to come. It’ll have to wait until next year.
Once they get rolling, the Whippets are a hard team to control. Even with some dropped passes of catchable balls didn’t slow them down.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” said Will. “I will say Edison by far and away is the most physical team we’ve played. I thought their defense played really, really well. They’re very well coached. They get to the football. They do a great job.”
“Defensively, we held on pretty tight there,” he added. “Our defense played lights out. After the first series we felt like we contained (Stoll) pretty good. We knew our defense was going to be pretty good and would be up for the challenge, but having said that this was the best challenge to date. Edison’s got a very physical, very good football team.”
Shelby wasted no time getting on the board after gaining the ball on Edison’s first punt. Two plays and 63 yards later the Whippets were in the end zone, thanks to Devon Brooks on his 54-yard scamper. He went right, eluded a tackler in the backfield, was hit at the line, then squirted out of a pile to race to paydirt. He finished the night with 182 yards on just 17 carries (10.7 yard average). He had three scores, adding touchdown runs of 15 yards in the second quarter and a 33-yarder in the third.
“One thing we’ve seen consistently from Shelby is they go on runs,” Edison coach Jim Hall said. “I thought that the point where it was 14-0 and we had the ball on their side of the field (was key). They made a play to make an interception and then had a score, and then had another play to get a score. That got them on a roll that they’re used to.”
Shelby’s quarterback, left-handed senior Brennan Armstrong, added a first quarter score on the ground with a 6-yard run up the gut and then threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Brady Hill just before the first half ended. Hill ran a quick out pattern, caught the ball while splitting two defenders, then outran the Charger defense down the left sideline for the score.
Armstrong, a University of Minnesota recruit, ran in the 2-point conversion for a 30-0 halftime lead, necessitating a running clock for the second half. Armstrong went 10-for-19 for 139 yards through the air while adding nine yards on eight rushing, including three sacks for minus-16 yards.
Hall said before the game in preparing for the Whippets that the talent level his Chargers were facing, especially at the skill-positions, was second to none. He knew going in that the Chargers would need a near flawless performance, with a ball-control offense the key to keeping the potent Whippet attack off the field.
“I thought our defense was really good,” Hall said. “Our offense didn’t help us, in terms of being able to sustain drives and control the ball like we want to. That all goes together. Credit to Shelby and the weapons they have. We knew how we had to play and we didn’t quite get it done.”
For Hall, he said the Chargers will take what they need to from this one and then move on. They look to regroup in time for Friday’s contest at Oak Harbor, while Shelby entertains Port Clinton..
“You got to learn from it, first of all,” Hall said. “If you’re going to go through it and it has to be this way then you want to learn. We have to watch film, find out what we need to do better, what we can adjust. And our kids have got to understand this is one game, and we’ve still got a lot of good things ahead of us. And we’ll pull together and get that done.”