Shenandoah lost its first two sectional championship appearances under Widner, falling 28-25 at Speedway in 2010 and 36-20 against Guerin Catholic in 2011. Last season, the Raiders rushed for 500 yards and rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Heritage Christian 41-35 and claim their first postseason title in eight years.
Lane Young scored the winning touchdown in that contest, and the senior power back has 1,092 yards and a team-high 21 touchdowns on 149 rushing attempts this season. Fellow senior Chandler Hale leads Shenandoah with 1,252 rushing yards on 125 carries. He’s scored 15 touchdowns.
They’re part of a core group that has played in several championship games and will lead the youngsters Friday.
“Experience helps quite a bit,” Widner said. “(These seniors) had good leaders before them. They’re good kids, and they do things the right way.”
Widner doesn’t expect the same type of offensive shootout against Scecina that last year’s title game turned into against Heritage Christian. But the level of athletes on the opposing sideline is similar, and the atmosphere should remain consistent with another large home crowd.
Shenandoah’s proud of pushing its program to the point where playing for a sectional title is an expectation. Now, the Raiders are hoping to start another tradition.
“Hopefully, we can make it to another level where we’re used to playing for regional championships as well,” Widner said. “We’d like to raise our expectations to even playing a week longer.”