By CHUCK RIDENOUR
Daily Globe Sports Editor
When it came time to pull the chin straps tight and go, all the hoopla surrounding a Thursday night game was soon forgotten and it was time to play football.
And Shelby was ready.
The Whippets scored first and then closed out their season opener with 42 unanswered points during a 49-7 rout of Mansfield Madison at William J. Wilkins Stadium at W.W. Skiles Field.
“We told the kids when the ball is snapped that other stuff doesn’t matter. We’re on a 100-yard football field playing football. Our kids were ready to go,” said SHS coach Erik Will.
Tied 7-7 late in the opening quarter, the tide turned on a turnover.
The Rams were bidding to grab the lead, had the ball third-and-seven on the Shelby nine and fumbled away the opportunity as Grant Reiser recovered at the 20.
“The play of the game was that fumble. Madison was in plus territory, moving the ball, fumbles and we were able to get on it. Two years ago we don’t make that play... two years ago they go down and score and we’re in a dogfight,” said Will.
The visitors appeared to have momentum on their side because two plays prior Kyle Jackson made a one-handed grab down the right sideline for 35 yards to the Whippet 12.
“We said the difference all week would be the 50-50 balls and they went 1-for-4 early. We knew they were going to get one and that kid made a one-handed catch and you have to give him credit for that,” said the SHS coach.
Will couldn’t find blame in the coverage.
“Brady (Hill) was in great position and that’s what I love about this team - they’ll compete. We won’t be perfect and we have film to watch tomorrow and get getter, but our kids competed their tails off. You can’t coach that,” said Will.
Having repelled Madison, Shelby wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard.
On the final play of the first quarter, Devon Brooks darted 45 yards and two plays into the second period Brennan Armstrong scored on a run from 27 yards out at the 11:10 mark.
That marked the start of a four-touchdown spree during the second 12 minutes of action.
The Hungry Hounds came up big on the next two Madison possessions. Derek Rose sacked the quarterback for a 13-yard loss on fourth-and-12. The Rams would then turn the ball over on downs at the SHS 34.
After those defensive stops, Shelby answered. Uriah Gieseler out jumped a defender in the corner of the endzone for a nine-yard scoring pass and Hill tacked on a 37-yard catch-and-run for a score. Both aerials were courtesy of Armstrong, who was 10-of-15 passing for 124 yards.
A punt was returned 25 yards by Hill to the Madison 39 with 1:29 remaining in the half. A 19-yard reception for Hunter Egner moved the ball deeper, setting up a six-yard TD run by Armstrong as the Whippet lead swelled to 34-7 at the half.
The opening possession of the second half for the Rams would stall out 11 plays later at the red and gray 16. Shelby would fumble the ball away at their 40, but MHS would turn the ball over on downs at 34 of their opponent.
Brooks would explode for 40 yards on the first play of the series. He would eventually score from two yards out with 1:02 on the third-quarter clock and Gieseler would make it 41-7 with his fifth extra-point kick of the game.
Midway through the final frame, Ethan Yates would complete the scoring with a 23-yard TD run and a two-point conversion.
Both teams reached the endzone on their first possessions of the contest.
The Whippets would march 61 yards and get a 7-yard scoring run by Armstrong at the 8:30 mark. The Rams would answer with a 66-yard drive and tied matters 3:17 later on a 43-yard pass by Blake Dinsmore from Tresten Vail.
The pregame hype included University of Kentucky-bound Tyrell Ajian and Armstrong, who is on the radars of a number of Division I programs around the country.
Besides his solid passing numbers, Armstrong ran for 114 yards on 10 carries. Ajian saw time as a wideout and at quarterback in the game. The Rams standout rushed for six yards and had eight catches for 95 yards.
Brooks ended the evening with a team-high 124 yards on 12 carries and the winners racked up 296 yards on the ground.
Five different players caught passes for SHS. Hill collected three balls for 49 yards and Carter Brooks grabbed four for 49, including a 21-yarder in Madison territory on the first drive.
Rose anchored the Shelby defense with 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Ty Hoffman recorded nine stops and Hunter Egner had eight. Hunter Bishop and Carter Brooks each had seven. Armstrong had an interception on the final play of the first half.
“I was really impressed, I thought our kids competed tonight. We weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but our kids competed really well.
“There’s execution things were going to have to get better at, but the thing that was an A-plus was the effort. We can’t coach that. The kids have to bring that juice. They brought the juice tonight. We, as coaches, feel the kids really moved in the right direction tonight. These guys are tired of mediocrity,” said Will.
A week from tonight the Whippets are back in action when they travel to Lexington for a non-conference matchup.
William J. Wilkins Stadium
at W.W. Skiles Field
Mansfield Madison 7 0 0 0 -7
Shelby 7 27 7 8 -49
Shelby - Brennan Armstrong 7-yard run (Uriah Gieseler kick)
Madison - Blake Dinsmore 43-yard pass from Tresten Vail (kick good)
Shelby - Armstrong 27-yard run (Gieseler kick)
Shelby - Gieseler 9-yard pass from Armstrong (Gieseler kick)
Shelby - Brady Hill 37-yard pass from Armstrong (kick failed)
Shelby - Armstrong 6-yard run (Gieseler kick)
Shelby - Devon Brooks 2-yard run (Gieseler kick)Shelby - Ethan Yates 23-yard run (Yates run)