South Shore quarterback Chris McDonald is an ear opener as soon as the Tars take the field. The senior is clearly in full command of his offense, but it is his snap count that is noticeable. It is loud and confident and strange.
It’s a high-pitched scream/yell. Sometimes once, sometimes twice. Opposing defensive lines have had trouble getting used to it all season. McDonald drew Corliss offside a few times in the game, but it impacted South Shore’s first three opponents even more heavily.
“The coaches told me to switch it up and to brand ourselves to make our own things. I listen to some older guys do it in college,” McDonald said. “I just want to get the defense shifting and make them not ready.”
The Tars dropped most of McDonald’s passes in their 14-6 victory against Corliss on Thursday at Eckersall Stadium. But offense isn’t really what South Shore is about this season.
Corliss’ touchdown in the second quarter, a five-yard run by Malachi McClure, is the first score the Tars have allowed.
“We just try to play hard and play physical,” Senior Imani Gilbert said. “We knew giving up some points was bound to happen eventually so we just had to bounce back and stay in the game.”
South Shore (4-0, 2-0 Chicago Lake Street) took an 8-6 lead just before halftime on an 18-yard touchdown run by Kris Nelson, who finished with eight carries for 63 yards.
McDonald punched in a one-yard touchdown run with 3:36 left in the game to provide the final margin.
“[McDonald] is the first person in and the last person out,” South Shore coach Robert Miller said. “Chris studies film at lunch, studies film on the off days. He and [Nelson], those guys are working all day and all night. They go longer than I do.”
South Shore has outscored its opponents 104-6 this season. The mood on the sidelines is energetic and upbeat.
“We aren’t the biggest and we aren’t the fastest team but we will keep hitting you constantly,” Tars senior Keandre Darby said. “Our mindset is to kill a man with 1,000 cuts.”
The Trojans (3-1, 1-0) had a chance to tie the game on their final drive but couldn’t manage to score. Corliss coach Ketih Brookshire said he was missing multiple starters because of COVID. Only 19 players dressed for the game.
“We fought and I’m proud of the kids,” Brookshire said. “We played a lot of young guys in new positions. It’s a big hit when you are missing your quarterback and fullback and two tackles. That hurt. We’ve been on a roll this season but now we ran into COVID.”
McClure, a sophomore, was playing quarterback for the first time. He attempted just two passes, both were incomplete, and had 14 carries for 14 yards.
Sophomore Quincy Robinson had 15 carries for 74 yards for the Trojans.
Corliss, which had outscored its opponents 94-8 heading into the game, will face Little Village next week.
“Everything was clicking and enthusiasm was up around the building,” Brookshire said. “So the kids will take the loss hard. I will need to get them back up. But we will be all right.”
South Shore will face Juarez next week. The Tars’ schedule is favorable the rest of the way. Chicago Conference teams are not eligible for the IHSA state playoffs.
“This is my second year here, I came from Robeson,” Miller said. “I brought some work ethic. We are all fire and no quit, all gas and no brakes. We are just putting the work in and these kids will not be denied. If I called practice right now they would be up for it.”