By DOUG DONNELLY
ROYAL OAK – Whiteford’s season came to an end Saturday afternoon in a 21-16 Division 8 playoff loss to Royal Oak Shrine, but sophomore tackle Noah Bauman had a message for the young Bobcats.
“Weight room Monday,” Bauman said walking off the field.
Bauman was one of eight starting freshman and sophomores for the Bobcats, which is part of the reason Whiteford head coach Jason Mensing sees a bright future for the prorgram.
“I’ll make them a week off, but hopefully that’s the approach they take,” Mensing said. “We had a lot young kids playing today. Those guys got a little taste. Hopefully it’s a bitter taste that drives them and motivates them to be better in the future.”
Shrine scored twice in the first quarter then held on at the end of the game when the Bobcats drove to just inside the 40-yard line when time ran out. Whiteford’s offense struggled at times, but still had more yards than the Knights, 326-287, and more first downs, 16-11. However, the Bobcats turned the ball over three times and made some critical errors at key moments of the game.
“I’m really proud of how hard we played,” Mensing said. “We fought hard, but we made a lot of mistakes. You can’t win games when you make a bunch of mistakes. Credit goes to Shrine.”
Shrine’s first two scores came on long plays. Running back Jacob Sanders raced 53 yard for the first Knight score and Charles Niehaus went 78 yards on a pass from Conor Benson as Shrine went up 14-0 early in the contest.
Whiteford scored following a Shrine fumble – Brodi Tesznar made the recovery – on a 20-yard run with 11:25 left in the second quarter to pull the Bobcats within six points at 14-8. That was the score until 7:12 was left in the third quarter when Benson scooted into the end zone from seven yards out to put Shrine up 21-8.
The Bobcats, however, weren’t done. Quarterback Shea Ruddy engineered a long drive, including finding receiver Braedon Mills for a 16-yard touchdown with 3:34 remaining in the game to pull Whiteford within five points.
After an unsuccessful onside kick, the Bobcats took over on downs with 2:22 left in the game but turned the ball over on the next play. Whiteford got another chance on offense with 35 seconds remaining when Shrine turned the ball over on downs. On first down, Shaw ran for 42 yards to the Knight 40-yard line, but Whiteford couldn’t get any closer.
“There were a lot of things that happened throughout the game,” Mensing said. “Our defense played well but we had two blown coverages. Offensively, we kept turning the ball over or having a critical penalty. On a surface like this where it’s tough to get two yards at a time you can’t have those critical mistakes.”
Shaw closed out his junior season with 135 yards rushing. Ruddy, a freshman who started all 10 games, completed five passes for 78 yards, including four to senior Braedon Mills for 53 yards. Freshman Eli Dyer had five tackles.
Benson threw for 205 yards for the Knights.
Mensing said the Whiteford seniors came along way during their careers.
“That’s a group who didn’t have a first down in the seventh grade,” he said. “That says a little bit about their resolve and their competitiveness.”
Whiteford finished the season 5-5. It’s never easy, he said, to walk off the field at the end of a season.
“When it happens, it’s a disappoint but that’s alright,” Mensing said, completing his eighth year at Whiteford. “That’s what drives you to go into the off-season and get better in the future.”
Whiteford’s D’Ondre Shaw was able to make a significant impact for the Bobcats Saturday after getting cleared to play by the doctors.
Shaw carried the ball 18 times for 89 yards in Whiteford’s 21-16 loss to Royal Oak Shrine.
“It feels amazing,” Shaw said after the game. “I wish there were more games to play.”
Shaw, a senior, was expected to be a workhorse back for the Bobcats this year but missed the entire regular season due to being diagnosed with a heart ailment while getting a physical before the season. He became an assistant coach for the Bobcats, helping wherever he could but held out hope that he could get back onto the field before the season was over.
On Monday, he was cleared by doctors to start practicing. He was in pads all week and suited up for Whiteford on Saturday against Royal Oak Shrine.
“I just wanted him to be able to have a memory,” Whiteford head coach Jason Mensing said. “He’s a great kid. He deserves to have a memory like this. I was happy he was able to do that.”
Royal Oak Shrine 21, Whiteford 16
S – Jacob Sanders 53 run (Charlie Mulcahy kick), 8:40
S – Charles Niehaus 78 pass from Conor Benson (Charlie Mulcahy kick), 2:18
W – Devon Shaw 20 run (Devon Shaw run), 11:25
S – Conor Benson 7 run (Charlie Mulcahy kick), 7:12
W – Braedon Mills 16 pass from Shea Ruddy (Devon Shaw run), 3:34
RUSHING – Whiteford: Devon Shaw 19-135, D’Ondre Shaw 18-89, Cole Giesige 5-24, Eli Dyer 5-17, Shea Ruddy 10-(minus)-17. Shrine: Jacob Sanders 16-87, Conor Benson 5-(minus)-5.
PASSING – Whiteford: Shea Ruddy 5-11-1 78 yards; Shrine: Conor Benson 11-22-1 205 yards.
RECEIVING – Whiteford: Braedon Mills 4-53, Luke Masserant 1-25. Shrine: Charles Niehaus 4-130, Alex Armenio 2-23, Anthony Massucci 2-17, Jakob Puekutowski 1-13, Nick Mayry 1-12, Jacob Sanders 1-10.