By SETH STASKEY
For The Intelligencer
SHADYSIDE - Coming into the season, like most coaches, Mark Holenka found different areas of his team that could be deemed question marks.
However, the one aspect of his Shadyside team that could never be questioned was its will, determination and desire to not let the teams before them, in what's developed into one of the Ohio Valley's premier small-school programs, down.
Those three inate characteristics played out to a tee once again the past 10 weeks and the results are something to which Holenka never gave a thought.
After posting a 52-0 beatdown of Barnesville on Friday night at Fleming Field, the Tigers became the third team in school history and second in a row to finish the regular season with a perfect 10-0 mark.
"This feeling certainly doesn't get old," Holenka said shortly after receiving a Gatorade bath. "It's a tribute to these young men and these coaches. Those are the people who I hope feel good about this."
The Tigers' string of clinchings has reached four in a row. After Week 7, they wrapped up a playoff berth. The following week they finalized home game and last week the OVAC title became official.
"I think these kids believed in themselves," Holenka said. "I think they believed in themselves maybe more than some of us understood how good they were or could be. Deep down, in their hearts, these kids knew how good they were and they worked hard every day."
However, after this most recent accomplishment, the Tigers wipe the slate clean and turn their attention toward the second season, which begins a week from today at Fleming Field. As for who's coming to town, Shadyside will wait until Sunday to formally learn its opponent when the OHSAA announces the 32-team Division VII field.
"We have to get used to playing on Saturdays now, which will be a little different, but we'll enjoy this and get back to work for what's ahead," Holenka said. "The kids need to realize that everything from this point out is do-or-die, so it's a little bit different scenario."
It didn't take the Tigers long to establish themselves against the Shamrocks, who finish the season with a 2-8 mark.
"It seems like I say it every week, but we got beat by a better football team," Barnesville coach Matt Johnson said. "We're young, but we can't keep using that as an excuse. It's going to take work and dedication to get this thing turned around, and for us coaches, that work begins next week."
The Shamrocks took the ball on the opening kickoff after the hosts deferred to the second half. They proceeded to run two plays for losses of 10 and 8 yards, and on the third play Tigers defensive end Scott Hammond pounced on a fumble in the end zone for the first score.
Shadyside's first unit scored on all but one of its possessions before being lifted after one drive in the third quarter.
The Tigers and their vaunted running attack racked up 331 yards. It was senior Chris Littell's turn to serve as the go-to-guy as he carried 10 times for 118 yards and scored twice, both of which were from 5 yards out.
Junior Eric Howell rushed 12 times for 78 yards and scored on runs of 5 and 13 yards.
Shadyside's weekly quest to work on its passing game resulted in a 3 of 9 effort from junior Austin Dorris. He did throw a 17-yard touchdown to Hammond late in the first half.
Barnesville received a solid rushing effort from Dylan Burkhart. He finished with 71 yards on 14 carries. Royce Hall added 41 yards on 11 carries.