There were many big moments this past weekend, as five Ches-Mont League teams advanced in the District 1 playoffs. In both the Class 5A and Class 6A semifinals, the Ches-Mont can boast of having two entrants in each category.
But, only one team in the Ches-Mont took home a District 1 title Friday night: The Bishop Shanahan Eagles.
Yes, the 6-5 Eagles captured the District 1 Class 4A title with a convincing 35-0 win over Upper Moreland.
The Shanahan football program has been directed by Paul Meyers since its inception in 2001, and the Eagles have had to fend off a lot of barbs within the league.
For years, before this season’s Ches-Mont realignment that put West Chester East and West Chester Henderson in the American Division, people railed on Shanahan for not going to the American side.
Those cries only increased before this season, as the National Division was left with Coatesville, both Downingtowns and large Avon Grove.
Plus Bishop Shanahan.
The critics said the Eagles were a natural fit with an American Division filled with 5A schools, instead of 6A powers. But, the Eagles persisted in playing the Downingtown and Coatesville and have beaten the big boys more than once.
Meyers repeated ad nauseum that he wanted his kids to experience the big time atmosphere games with the perennial 6A powers can present. Sure, there have been some tough losses, where the Eagles have been humbled by the giants.
But, there has also been a toughness and resolve borne into the Eagles’ program from going toe to toe with much larger schools. That is a big reason Bishop Shanahan rolled through the 4A playoffs and a reason the Eagles always have a good nonleague record.
The other reason the Eagles are under fire is that the 6A schools do not get many playoff points for wins over Shanahan, because the Eagles are a 4A school and beating them does not register as much punch in the playoff race that the big boys would like.
But, here is little old Bishop Shanahan ready to enter the PIAA playoffs. Meyers never gave up on his young team, like he never gave up on his program, even through the tough losses and barbs to move divisions.
It is the head coach who must lead the way. His team takes on his traits and his vision. Bishop Shanahan never backed down, from larger schools, from all the noise from the outside, or from some nasty neighboring fans who want a small private school out of the Ches-Mont.
Playing Shanahan is never easy. The Eagles are always tough to beat because they will not beat themselves. They believe in their head coach, their school and their place in the Ches-Mont.
And that is why they can claim a District 1 title and are still playing football deep into November.
Peter DiGiovanni covers high school football for the Daily Local News and Pa. Prep Live. Follow him on Twitter @PeteDLN.
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