Two teams that have had polar opposite seasons and are playing with different forms of motivation will square off Friday night at Perkins Field.
The Bridgeport Bulldogs will roll out the red carpets and try to put the brakes on their six-game losing streak against unblemished Shadyside.
"We have to continue to get better every week," said Shadyside head coach Mark Holenka. "We certainly can't think we can just go through the motions and get to where we want to be. If we do that, we'll be in trouble."
Chase Kinemond tries to avoid a Beallsville defender during their meeting earlier this season. Kinemond triggers the Tigers’ attack from the quarterback spot. He and the Tigers will trek to Bridgeport this Friday, seeking their ninth straight win.
BRIDGEPORT’S Bailey McGrath leads the Bulldogs’ offense from the quarterback spot. He and the Bulldogs will play host to Shadyside in their final home game of the season Friday night.
The Tigers are just two victories away from wrapping up only their second 10-0 season in school history - the OVAC Class 2A title and most likely yet another first-round home game in the Division VI, Region 21 playoffs.
As Holenka pointed out, the Tigers have been like a yo-yo in the computer poll, which the OHSAA uses to determine its playoff entrants.
"You just can't predict it," Holenka said. "It's still a real crapshoot. I look at some of these websites with these projections and I wonder how they figure these things out. It's going to come down to the last game, I am sure, because it's that close."
While the Tigers are counting playoff points, the Bulldogs are simply playing for pride as they try to finish the 2012 season on an upswing.
"We're continuing to work hard and our kids are battling each week," said Bridgeport head coach Rudy Vavrock. "Obviously, this is going to be a big challenge this week with a typical Shadyside team."
The Tigers have pitched back-to-back shutouts, winning 14-0 against Wheeling Central and 27-0 against Buckeye Trail last week, but the fourth-year Tigers' mentor was far from pleased, however.
"I hope that re-focused us in the sense that we can't become stagnant," Holenka said. "We can't look at things like we can just show up because, in football, you never know."
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, dropped a 43-31 reversal to Beallsville.
"We didn't get off to a good start, but I am definitely proud of how the kids battled back," Vavrock said. "We got back in the game, but we just couldn't get enough stops."
The Bulldogs are led by a solid ground game that features senior Dallas Fields. He's ran for 776 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Bailey McGrath has thrown for 379 yards and added 169 more on the ground. Q.J. Williams has been a solid option as well.
"When I saw (Bridgeport) against River, they didn't play well, but, against Beallsville, last week, I saw a team that just kept fighting and didn't give up, which is a credit to them," Holenka advised.
Shadyside, meanwhile, features an extremely balanced offense. Senior quarterback Chase Kinemond leads the charge.
He's been extremely effective. He's thrown for 869 yards and 16 touchdowns.
He's added four more scores and 365 yards on the ground.
Senior Brooks Ramsey is the leading rusher with 463 yards. Chris Littell is another solid option with 268 yards and five scores. Cody Hudson (24-412-10td) and Austin Dorris (19-316-5td) are the team's leading receivers.
"It's challenging because Shadyside can run and pass so well," Vavrock said. "A lot of people talk about Shadyside's offense, but their defense is as good as anyone's."
Kickoff is slated for 7:00.