Football coaches love to preach about how the battle up front decides who wins and who loses a game.
In Friday night’s opener at Jack Mancini Field, Anthony Cipriano and Kurt Pollard took matters into their own hands for Bishop Shanahan, and gave coach Paul Myers plenty of positives to point to as a young Shanahan team battled to a tough 28-12 win over Benjamin Franklin.
Cipriano had three sacks and eight tackles while Pollard contributed two sacks and six tackles as the Eagles’ (1-0) defense held the Electrons (0-1) to negative-35 yards rushing on the night and the Shanahan offense did just enough to win the sloppy affair.
Ben Franklin contributed to its loss by committing 19 penalties for 112 yards while the Eagles fumbled the football six times and committed six penalties on their own.
“We just felt we dominated them up front,” Cipriano said. “We came together and stopped their run game and we took command. We just want to keep getting better as a team and growing.”
Bishop Shanahan struck early as Garrett Glendenning, who rushed for 107 yards on the night, ran one in from three yards out and the Eagles had a 6-0 lead. Ben Franklin went three and out and the Eagles drove down the field again before Jon Loftus took quarterback Charlie Maddocks’ three-yard pass in the back of the end zone for a 12-0 Eagles lead.
The margin would stretch to 18-0 when Mike Prieto went wide open over the middle and Maddocks found him for a 36-yard scoring toss. Maddocks threw two touchdown passes and accumulated 86 yards passing in his debut for the Eagles.
But Ben Franklin came right back and Jamar McDaniel rumbled 19 yards with a Maddocks fumble for a score and it was an 18-6 game at halftime. Bishop Shanahan fumbled six times on the night and committed six penalties, something that did not sit well with Eagles head coach Paul Myers.
“We cannot use the excuse we are young,” Meyers said. “We have to get better as a team and not make the mistakes we did tonight. I thought our defensive line did the job and was the difference in the game. I thought our defensive backs were suspect and our three linebackers were all playing in their first varsity game so it was a little fast for them. We have to eliminate the offensive mistakes and get better as a team.”
Ben Franklin fell behind 26-6 after a Loftus two-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter and Pollard and Cipriano were relentless in pursuit of every offensive play the Electrons ran.
“I play with a lot of heart and passion,” Pollard said. “And I want our team to grow and I think we can come together and be a good team. I also am the kicker for the team and the PATs make me a little nervous, so we will see how that goes.”
Cipriano recored his last sack of the night late in the fourth quarter, helping the Eagles survive a sloppy but important first win of the season.
“We may not have the size but we play with a lot of heart and we have a lot of speed and we want to play hard all the time.”