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Column: No quit in Bishop Shanahan

Sometimes expectations and prognostications weigh heavy on a football team. And the expectations for the 2021 Bishop Shanahan football team were certainly heavy.

The Eagles had a talented senior heavy team and were expected to do great things. And the 2021 Eagles certainly delivered as the Eagles won the District 1 4A championship and advanced to the PIAA 4A semifinals before dropping a close game to Bishop McDevitt, winning two state playoff games in the process.

But graduation hit the 2022 Bishop Shanahan roster hard as the Eagles lost 32 seniors from the best football team Shanahan has ever fielded. The expectations for this 2022 team were low as a young, inexperienced squad was set to take the field for the ’22 season.

But after six weeks of the regular season, the Eagles are sitting at 3-2 and if the district playoffs started today, the Eagles would be in the postseason. Make no mistake, this Bishop Shanahan team is not the talented and deep roster of last season that could play with anybody regardless of classification.

But many people thought the 2022 Eagles would win one or two games and miss the 4A playoffs. But this current Eagles squad, that features seven freshman starters and a bevy of sophomores, had defied the low expectations and are forging memories of their own.

Last Friday the Eagles marched into Valley Stadium and knocked Great Valley from the unbeaten ranks with a tough-as-nails 6-3 win. The Eagles defense shut down the Great Valley running game and the energy and emotion throughout the game from the Shanahan players and bench was amazing.

Oh, there will be lopsided losses this season as the Eagles do not have the experience or firepower this season to play with the Downingtowns or Coatesville this season. But in judging the Eagles, many people forget they are a small 4A school that was almost down to the 3A bracket when the PIAA released enrollment numbers.

No, Bishop Shanahan head coach Paul Meyers has steered the Eagles’ ship deftly and the coach is focused on the rest of his schedule, even though Meyers knows his team will be up against it when Downingtown West and Coatesville come to Jack Mancini Field. And his Eagles have delivered the past two weeks, beating Penn Wood and Great Valley, with a date with Avon Grove coming up.

Meyers feels if his extremely young team can just get into the 4A playoffs, then his club has had a very successful season. When any team loses 32 seniors there’s going to be a big step back. But especially when a school the size of Bishop Shanahan is, it can be devastating.

But this team does not feel sorry for itself. All this current group of Eagles players and coaches have done is lower their heads and worked. And all the hard work and belief has produced a 3-2 record heading into Saturday’s game with Avon Grove.

It looks like Bishop Shanahan will need one or maybe two more wins to qualify for the 4A playoffs this season. Meyers and his staff have done a great job this season. The 2021 team is a memory now, albeit a good one, but the focus is getting this 2022 young squad into the district playoffs.

It would be a herculean task for the Eagles to win four or five games this season and qualify for the postseason. So, in a way, this Bishop Shanahan team is what high school football is all about. Coming together and working and believing in yourself and each other to win football games.

The 2022 Eagles have already exceeded the low expectations by winning three games and now the young Eagles are looking to seal the deal and make the postseason. Nothing will come easy for a squad that starts seven freshmen but the Eagles believe in their coaches and each other and feel they are a team that can make themselves proud.

The 2022 Bishop Shanahan has shown what work, dedication and belief can do, even for a team that was completely retooled after losing 32 seniors. It seems like the Eagles are already winners.Column:

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