Red team takes Spring Game, 14–2
The Shippensburg University football team’s roster features an array of talent, and that talent was on full display Saturday in SU’s annual Red-White game, with the Red team winning the game, 14–2.
Quarterback Ryan Zapoticky was sharp in the spring tune-up, completing 14-of-27 pass attempts for 169 yards and a 2-yard touchdown pass to Shea O’Donnell, while defensive end Richard Nase recorded five sacks on the day.
“It felt great to get back to game speed,” Nase said. “It was great to get out here and compete. We’ve been working hard in practice and it’s a little different than game speed. It was good to get out here with my friends and get a little friendly competition going. Competition never hurts anybody and it was a good day overall.”
The passing game was a clear focus in the first half, as the Red team, which consisted of the first-team offense and second-team defense, came out firing with an aggressive passing attack to spread the field.
“We’re working on things we need to continue to get better at,” Mark “Mac” Maciejewski, SU’s head coach, said.
“That’s what this is all about. We tried to get through our playbook to get reps in all the different situations and formations like that. We did a good job and just need to continue to work and get better.”
Overall, Maciejewski was pleased with the production from the team’s offensive and defensive stars in Zapoticky and Nase.
“Zap is healthy and he’s doing a great job for us,” Maciejewski said. “He’s a senior, he knows our offense, he’s comfortable. All that translates onto the field and its good.
“Richard Nase was really going hard today coming off the edge and we need to fix some protections and get better at that, but Richard is really making tough on them.”
The Red team got on the board first, as running back Cole Chiappialle followed his blocking up the middle, surging across the goal line less than four minutes into the game, giving the Red team a 7–0 lead after a Billy Deane extra point.
The White team responded quickly, after the Red team was called for holding with 5:40 left in the first quarter. The hold occurred in the end zone, resulting in a safety. The Red team led 7–2.
The safety was all the White team, which consisted of the first-team defense and second-team offense, could muster on the day, however. Zapoticky’s 2-yard touchdown pass came midway through the second quarter to round out the scoring.
Defensive standout performances on the day included defensive lineman Dakota Thompson and Tim Bradley who each registered two sacks, while defensive back Jailen Harmon intercepted a tipped pass before returning it 26 yards, setting up Chiappialle’s touchdown run. Harmon finished the day with seven tackles to go alongside multiple pass breakups.
Along with Harmon, the SU secondary showed its depth, as Hasan Sharif showcased his abilities with five tackles, while registering five passes defensed.
Harmon and Sharif should add to the depth in the secondary alongside senior corner Kevin Taylor.
Offensively, O’Donnell was impressive, pulling in three receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown. Along O’Donnell as a member of the Red team, Winston Eubanks had four catches for 61 yards, while Charles Headen III had three catches for 65 yards as a member of the White team. London Whitfield led the way on the ground with 49 yards on a game-high nine carries.
While the game does not show up in the win-loss column, Maciejewski expressed the team having fun as one of the most important takeaways from the day.
“I think everyone had fun,” Maciejewski said. “We work hard and we have 14 practices and this is the fun part now to come out in a game situation and just fly around and have fun. We are one big family here and we just need to make sure we take care of each other, but we’re going to play hard football and compete.”
While the game signifies the end of spring practice, the team will still look to improve in the weight room as well as in agility exercises.
“This is the end of practicing on the field but we’ve got two weeks of work left before finals,” Maciejewski said. “We’re going to work hard these next two weeks with lifting and agilities and continue to get better every day and take the next step up.”
The Red Raiders will open preseason camp in August before taking the field for its season opener against American International College, at Seth Grove Stadium, Sept. 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.