Shaler dominates Fox Chapel to earn playoff bid
On Nov. 4, 2011, the Shaler Titans lost a first-round playoff matchup to Gateway.
Since that time, the Titans were 2-55, winning both those games in 2015.
Now, the Shaler Titans can call themselves playoff bound, throttling Fox Chapel, 62-0, in the final week of the regular season.
With the victory, the Titans (4-6, 3-4) clinched a spot of the WPIAL Class 5A Northern Conference.
Shaler led 7-0 after the first quarter and broke the game open with 28 points in the second quarter. Fullback Jake Miller had rushing and receiving touchdowns during the surge, and Justin DeSabato added an interception return for a touchdown followed by a Brennan Fugh TD reception that made it 35-0 and put the mercy-rule into effect.
Shaler left its starters on the field through the third quarter. The reserves took over in the fourth but still the Titans scored 27 more points. The play of the night was by Shaler wide receiver Luke Bebout. After the pass from quarterback Darin Mizgorski appeared to be intercepted, Bebout reached over the defender while coming down, ripped the ball out of his hands, and took it 56 yards for the touchdown.
Fox Chapel’s only well-sustained drive was its first possession when it drove into Shaler territory, but the drive ended on a turnover on downs.
Foxes backup quarterback Justin Rice, a sophomore, started in place of Shane Susnak, who missed the game with an injury. The Foxes (2-8, 1-6) managed only 58 total yards. On the flip side, the Foxes had no answer defensively, allowing 295 yards on the ground, 398 total.
Since 2003, Shaler had only won three games by a margin of 31 or more points. Two of those three victories came against Fox Chapel, in 2003 and 2005. The most recent came versus Hempfield in 2008.
However, on this cold and rainy regular-season finale, the Titans used the home-field advantage, a place in which it was 1-32 entering the night since 2012, to break the trend and return to the playoffs.
For Fox Chapel, coach Tom Loughran sits on 199 wins and must wait until next season to try to break the 200-win mark. Shaler’s playoff opponent will be determined Monday night when the WPIAL pairings are released.