MIDDLEBURG — In a twist few could have seen coming, Shikellamy leaned on its retooled offensive line Friday to keep the ball away from Hunter Wolfley and defeat Midd-West.
The Braves controlled the ball for nearly 34 minutes of the 48-minute game, and topped the host Mustangs, 27-6.
“Credit to our kids, especially our offensive linemen,” said Shikellamy coach Jim Keiser “The line is starting to play really well together. They’re starting to get our system, and they’re starting to have a little fun.”
The Braves (3-5) were forced to go nine linemen deep due to injuries this season, and evaluating able-bodied starters became a weekly part of preparation. Against Midd-West, they topped 300 yards of offense for the second consecutive week, gaining 130 on the ground while Drew Balestrini was 7-of-13 passing for 204 more.
Shikellamy, however, had to play from behind about 11/2 minutes into the game. The Braves punted to the Mustangs’ dynamic weapon, Wolfley, who caught the ball at his 44-yard line and took it back for the game’s opening score. The 56-yard return with 10:41 remaining in the first quarter wound up being the lone Midd-West score as Shikellamy rattled off slow, methodical drives to score 27-unanswered points.
Shikellamy answered with just three seconds to play in the first quarter. A nine-play drive took 4:48 off the clock and ended with a 5-yard run by quarterback Drew Balestrini.
In the second quarter, the Braves drove the ball 71 yards in 12 plays that clocked at 6:07. Sophomore running back Isaac Shaffer-Neitz scored his first touchdown of the season with a 4-yard carry for a 14-6 halftime lead.
Shikellamy overcame a penalty-plagued drive that lasted more than seven minutes and 14 plays, capped by Balestrini’s second touchdown run, a 1-yard keeper.
The Braves were 6-for-11 on third downs, and 4-for-5 on fourth downs.
“Overall, we played OK. We just didn’t make enough plays to get off the field,” said Mustangs coach Brad Hatter. “Shik had a good game plan, but we gave up too many third-and-longs and fourth-and-longs.”
Shikellamy was able to limit Wolfley to a game-high 96 yards on 10 rushing attempts. Wolfley accounted for more than 190 all-purpose yards.
Coltyn Sempko ran for 54 yards on 12 carries to lead the Braves, while Shaffer-Neitz added 36 yards on the ground and Gage Wolfe 23.
“This was a big win for our program,” said Keiser. “We’re trying to get things to where Shikellamy should be, back when teams used to fear having to play Shikellamy.
“The kids are doing a great job. They’ve been working hard, and our defense is playing great.”
SHIKELLAMY 27, MIDD-WEST 6
Score by Quarters
Shikellamy (3-5)`7`7`7`6 — 27
Midd-West (1-7)`6`0`0`0 — 6
MW-Hunter Wolfley 56 punt return (kick failed), 10:41
S-Drew Balestrini 5 run (Nicholas Koontz kick), 0:03
S-Isaac Shaffer-Neitz 4 run (Koontz kick), 3:34
S-Balestrini 1 run (Koontz kick), 2:11
S-Shaffer-Neitz 18 run (kick failed), 6:42
RUSHING — Shikellamy: Coltyn Sempko 12-54; Isaac Shaffer-Neitz 7-36, 2 TDs; Gage Wolfe 12-23; Duncan Weir 3-11; Drew Balestrini 14-6, 2 TDs; Team 1-0. Midd-West: Hunter Wolfley 10-96; Trey Lauver 3-(-6); Team 1-(-12); Christian Regester 2-(-15).
PASSING — Shikellamy: Balestrini 7-13-0, 204 yds. Midd-West: Regester 8-12-0, 68 yds; Wolfley 1-1-0, 10 yds.
RECEIVING — Shikellamy: John Peiffer 2-64; Duncan Weir 1-50; Connor Fitzgerald 1-41; Davis Marshall 2-34; Sempko 2-15. Midd-West: Eli Swan 3-38; Wolfley 3-28; Everest Wilson 3-13; Lauver 1-(-1).