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Ship crumbles under Berks Catholic pressure

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When a team makes it all the way to a district championship, it's probably going to face its best competition of the year.

That's exactly what Shippensburg's football team was up against on Friday in the District 3 Class 4A title game against Berks Catholic.

The Saints, which had been averaging nearly four sacks per game, brought the pressure early and often. They managed seven sacks on Ship quarterback Carter Van Scyoc, held the Greyhounds scoreless in the second half, and escaped with a 37-13 victory for their third district title in four years.

"Their front four were unbelievable," Van Scyoc said. "We couldn't really block them. Our offensive line did their best, and I thank them for that, but at the end of the day, we just couldn't get it done."

Although Shippensburg was under serious pressure, Van Scyoc managed to make some big plays.

He finished with 246 passing yards and went 16-for-32. Van Scyoc was helped along by some miraculous catches from Cody Gustafson, who totaled 153 receiving yards, and even Cain Fridinger, who pulled down a 15-yard beauty late in the second quarter.

"The scary part is we're used to that," Ship coach Eric Foust said. "Those catches are an expectations. Our kids make those catches every day, so for us, that's one of the things we'll miss. All of a sudden next year, we don't make random, one-hand diving catches, so it'll be somewhat tough to watch."

Berks Catholic coach Rick Keeley said, "I thought our coverage was good, but (Gustafson) was outstanding. He was making some outstanding catches, even with good coverage. That's how they were moving the ball, so we had to do something to try to stop that part."

Not only did BC make some adjustments - namely moving Cooper Lutz to cover Gustafson, as well as putting both outside linebackers on that side of the field - it also continued to pick up the pressure. Ship finished with just 52 yards of offense in the second half after gaining more than 200 in the opening two quarters.

"We try to blitz as much as we can with our linebackers, and we try to open up as many holes as we can," Saints lineman Ryan Glanski said. "Other than that, we just try to keep everyone in the pocket, and get everyone to swarm and make the tackle all at once."

The Saints' seven sacks caused the Greyhounds to lose a total of 36 yards.

"I think we were all under tremendous pressure tonight, but as we would expect, (Carter) handled himself very well," Foust said. "He kept his head up and kept himself in the game until the game was over. There was no quit; they gave it all they had today."