HS FOOTBALL: Berwick Wins Battle Of Unbeatens Vs. Valley West
KINGSTON — Sometimes it is not about the number of chances you get, but what you do with those opportunities when you are presented with them. Berwick’s offense was a perfect example of that on Friday night, with its defense spending the majority of the first two quarters on the field.
But when the offense did have the ball, the Dawgs certainly made things happen.
Owen Shoemaker finished the night with three rushing touchdowns, and Berwick’s defense clamped down on Valley West in the second half in a 40-24 victory at Spartan Stadium. The win improved Berwick to 4-0 on the year, while Valley West dropped to 3-1.
Berwick ran just 18 offensive plays in the first half compared to 38 for the Spartans. The Bulldogs were able to score on three of them, with kick returner Aiden Mason adding a return of 83 yards for a score to put Berwick ahead 27-17 at the half.
“We looked at that at halftime,” said Berwick coach Frank Sheptock. “We were productive on offense. I thought we did a good job when we had the ball. We worked hard on our kickoff returns and our kids take great pride in that component of the game.”
Berwick scored three times in the second quarter to break open the game. Shoemaker scored on a pair of rushing touchdowns to go along with the Mason kick return for a score. But the Spartans were effective in accomplishing what they wanted to do.
Valley West was able to sustain drives and Carson Canavan got Valley West on the board with a 2-yard run early in the second quarter. It was the first rushing touchdown the Berwick defense had allowed all season. A Jorge Pina touchdown reception and an Adam Sivak 31-yard field goal helped the Spartans stay close.
“We were executing and making some plays,” said Valley West coach Pat Keating. “We were executing our schemes. I think that a couple of injuries at the end of the first half really stalled some of our drives.”
The Spartans had to settle for the Sivak field goal after recovering a fumble on the Berwick 10 with Berwick hold a 20-14 lead.
While Valley West was finding success running the football in the first half getting the ball to the edge and taking advantage of some extra blockers out there, Berwick made the adjustment at the half. The Bulldogs were sealing off the edge and forcing the runners back inside. Canavan entered the game as the leading rusher in the conference with 596 yards and was averaging 7.9 yards per carry.
Against Berwick, Canavan finished with 62 yards on 18 carries, with all but two of those yards coming in the first half.
“Valley West gave us a lot of formations, they have a lot going on,” Sheptock said. “They are a tough team to defend. They give you so many motions, they go unbalanced, it is tough to recognize all those things. They were making plays. One thing that I think our defense has proven in the first month is that it adapts and catches up. Valley West has been a second half team. They have won games in the fourth quarter. We knew we had to play well in the second half.”
Consider it mission accomplished for the Berwick defense. Prior to both teams subbing in their second-team players on both sides of the ball with 7:14 left in the game, Berwick held the Valley West offense to minus-2 yards in the second half.
“We were getting field position with the way the defense was playing,” Sheptock said. “We were winning the kicking game. It is those hidden yards that are critically important. We are playing good defense and we have things going in the kicking game. We just need to get the offense more consistent.”
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