SHENANDOAH - It's a rarity at the high school football level that a team will have extremely talented players at each skill position on offense. The Shenandoah Valley football squad is definitely an exception to that rule. The Devils' coaching staff didn't hesitate either using their talented bunch to dismantlevisiting Jim Thorpe on Friday night, 42-16.
The Jim Thorpe defense held strong on the Devils' first drive of the game, but a Thorpe running into the punter penalty gave Shenandoah another opportunity for a first down. The Devils converted the fourth and three attempt and then drove the ball 50 yards on five plays. Chris Palubinsky and Eric Whalen rushed for 34 and 26 yards on the drive with Whalen finishing off the drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge.
"Shenandoah is a very talented team with a lot of weapons," said Jim Thorpe Head Coach Mark Rosenberger. "We killed a lot of our drives tonight with some penalties at times and they took advantage."
The Olympians hung around for most of the first quarter after the Shenandoah Valley score, but couldn't get anything going on offense.
The second quarter was a whole different story as the Devils turned up the heat, scoring three more touchdowns before the half. A Palubinsky one-yard run, Whalen 11-yard run, and a 35-yard pass to William Moyer from Palubinsky gave the Devils a 28-8 advantage at intermission.
The lone Jim Thorpe touchdown came on a frozen rope from Olympian quarterback Pat Duvigneaud-to-P.J. Johnson on the sidelines. Johnson walked the tightrope into the endzone from 13 yards out.
"P.J. has been one of our consistent players on offense this season," said Rosenberger. "He has been a playmaker for us, and he showed a lot of heart running that kid down on that long pass play and forcing that fumble. You don't see a lot of kids do that today."
The play Coach Rosenberger is referring to was a 65-yard pass and catch between Palubinsky and his favorite target of the night Nick Merva. Merva caught the ball around the Jim Thorpe 35 with nothing but greener pastures in front of him, when Johnson forced Merva to fumble the ball right before crossing the goal line causing a touchback.
"The effort was there from our kids tonight," said Rosenberger. "Although the scoreboard might not show it right now, we are getting better. We just have to do a better job of making plays on the football field."
The Devils added a touchdown in the third on a 37-yard pass to Moyer. Moyer and Merva reeked havoc on the Olympian secondary all night each going over 100 yards receiving. Palubinsky had a promising evening as well throwing for 245 yards and two touchdowns.
Shenandoah stand-out tailback Eric Whalen only played in the first half due to hamstring issues, but still scored two touchdowns and rushed for 54 yards on eight carries.
With the loss the Olympians fall to 0-5 (0-5 AFL) and Shenandoah improves to 3-2 (2-2 AFL).