By Jack Adams
The Cardinal Ritter Football Team played a home game against rival Speedway High School on September 8, emerging victorious for the fourth week in a row and claiming the West Side Super Bowl trophy. For the first half of the game, the Raiders shutout the Sparkplugs, but even as Speedway began trickling points onto the board, Cardinal Ritter still held their ground on defense and pressed forward on offense. It was Senior Night and CYO Night and many different West Deanery athletic teams were recognized periodically throughout the game which added to the already buzzing atmosphere. At the end, the scoreboard read 38-13, continuing Cardinal Ritter’s undefeated season.
As the game began, the Raiders kicked to Speedway, who were stopped at their own 32 yard line by Eric Krumm. A high snap on first down allowed Henry “Napalm” Woodcock to make a huge sack for a loss of 10. Speedway completed a pass on the next play, but were charged with a false start, costing them another 5 yards. On 3rd and 25, the Sparkplugs managed to complete a pass and were just shy of the first down. They went for the fourth down conversion, but couldn’t deliver and the ball was turned over to Cardinal Ritter at the Speedway 41.
Beginning their drive, Seth “The Kraken” Knutson rushed the ball for 6 yards. There was no gain on second down, but Woodcock more than made up for that, completing a 24-yard pass from Diomoni “Supreme” Small. From the Sparkplug 11 yard line, Knutson drove the ball on the next two plays for a Raider touchdown with 8:23 left in the first quarter. The point after was good and the Raiders sent in their kick-off team.
On the kick, the Sparkplugs returned the ball to the 31 yard line before being met by the force of Brad “Big Play” Bacon. Speedway attempted a toss run on first down, but were charged with holding, losing them 7 yards. They managed to pick up a gain of 5, but were shut down by “Charging” Trey Hunt. Speedway continued their running game, making it to 4th and 3 and decided to punt the ball away. Ben “The Jet” Egenolf returned the ball for Cardinal Ritter and the Sparkplugs were penalized on the return, allowing the Raiders to start from their own 36 yard line.
Small carried the ball for a yard, but was sacked for a loss on second down. Woodcock made another amazing catch from Small for an 18-yard gain. Knutson and Small ushered the ball forward for another Raider first down. Speedway was charged with pass interference on the next play, advancing Cardinal Ritter to the Spark Plug 26 yard line. A holding call on the Raiders negated Knutson’s next gain. “The Kraken” didn’t let this stop him, though, as he powered forward for 28 yards and the second Raider touchdown of the game with less than a minute on the clock. After the Sparkplugs were charged with encroachment during the PAT, the kick was good.
Cardinal Ritter kicked back to Speedway, but the ball bounced out of bounds, allowing the Spark Plugs to start from their own 35. The bad guys managed to gain a first down off of two runs before the first quarter ended. The score read 14-0, Cardinal Ritter.
As the second quarter began, the Sparkplugs attempted a toss run, but were met by the power duo of Woodcock and Bryce “Black and Blue” Giebel for a loss of 2. Two plays later, Speedway was forced to punt and Egenolf made a big return into enemy territory to the 43 yard line. The Raiders couldn’t pick up more than a yard during their possession, causing them to send in Cam Houston to punt the ball to Speedway. However, mirroring last week’s game against Brebeuf, Cardinal Ritter tricked everyone and went for a fake-punt-pass on 4th and 9. Jake “The Snake” Kluemper caught the pass from Houston for a whomping 24 yards. Small carried the ball for 11 yards to the Speedway 7 yard line on the ensuing play. After a few incomplete passes, the Raiders sent in Matthew “Ironfoot” Boberg to kick the field goal. And kick it he did. The 23-yarder was good, putting up an extra 3 points for Cardinal Ritter.
Boberg kicked the ball to the Sparkplugs and Darrell Roberson made the tackle at the Speedway 30. The Spark Plugs kept the ball on the ground for a gain of 5 and were stopped by Marlon Anderson. Speedway gained 2 yards on second down, but Manolo “Man-O-War” Suazo and Giebel sacked the quarterback for no gain on 3rd and 3. With 6:47 remaining in the first half and faced with yet another 4th down, the Spark Plugs punted to the Raider 26 yard line.
The Raiders lost a yard on first down, but Kyle “Kay Pee Zee” Price caught a 14-yard pass from Small on second. Knutson and Egenolf collectively gained 7 yards over the next three plays before Houston was sent in again to punt. Deciding not to risk another fake punt conversion, the Raiders punted the ball, but by a sheer miracle, Speedway mishandled the ball on the reception and Woodcock scooped it up for a Cardinal Ritter recovery at the Sparkplug 22 yard line upgrading his status from “Napalm” to “A-Bomb.”
On the ensuing possession, the Raiders gave the ball to Knutson play after play, until he drove it into the Speedway end zone for his third touchdown of the game. Boberg kicked the PAT for another point and Cardinal Ritter prepared to return the ball to the Sparkplugs with 0:57 left before halftime.
Speedway returned the kick to their own 25 yard line and tried to get in some yardage before halftime, but to no avail. In three plays, the Sparkplugs were powerfully opposed by Kendall “Demolition” Dalverny, Mitchell Wilson, and Donovan Morris. At halftime, the score was 24-0, Cardinal Ritter.
During halftime, several seniors were presented alongside their parents and family. These seniors came from the Cardinal Ritter Marching Band, Boys & Girls Cross Country Teams, and Girls Golf Team. At the end of halftime, the two teams returned to the field and the Sparkplugs were looking to get themselves onto the board.
This wouldn’t happen early though. Speedway kicked a squib, which was recovered at the Raider 21 yard line. Knutson rushed the ball for 30 yards between first and second down. Small completed a pass to Price for an additional 7 yards, followed by another gain of 17 from Knutson. On the next play, Small completed a 24 yard touchdown pass to Woodcock and the point after was good, thanks to Ironfoot.
On the kick, the ball again went out of bounds, and the Spark Plugs began from their own 35. Speedway kept the ball on the ground during their drive and were saved by a flag against the Raiders that allowed them the extra yardage they needed for a first down. The Plugs then switched gears and began passing, gaining another first down at the Raider 29 yard line. Attempting to revitalize their running strategy, Speedway was quickly and bluntly shut down by Anderson and Suazo. After two incomplete passes and a 5-yard penalty, the Spark Plugs were in a sticky situation and called a timeout.
Again, they found themselves with their old friend, 4th down. After strategizing, Speedway returned to the field and gained a massive 25 yards from a QB scramble. They lost 3 yards on first down from the Cardinal Ritter 7, but scored a touchdown run on the following play. The PAT was good and Speedway kicked the ball back to the Raiders with 4:56 left in the third. Trying to pull a fast one on Cardinal Ritter, the Sparkplugs went for an onside kick, but Daniel “The Slammer” Ayala covered up that ball like a soldier diving on a grenade to save his comrades.
The Raiders began their drive from their own 44 and Small picked up a yard on first down. Deciding to take the road less traveled by, Cardinal Ritter sent in Roberson, and he carried that ball down the field like a champ. In three consecutive plays, Roberson rushed the ball past the Sparkplug D-line for 27 yards and two first downs. There was no gain on 2nd and 4, and Egenolf caught a pass on the play action for a gain of 3. The Raiders found themselves on 4th and short, and they called a timeout with just under two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Raiders were just 25 yards out from the end zone, but if they couldn’t convert, they’d be giving the ball right back to Speedway. After conferencing with the coaches, the Raiders returned to the field and got ready to attempt the fourth down conversion. Small gave the ball to Egenolf, and he smashed his way into the belly of the beast. Picking up 2 yards, Egenolf made the conversion, giving Cardinal Ritter another three chances to score a touchdown.
After two incomplete passes, Egenolf caught a ball on third down for 22 yards. On 1st and goal from the Speedway 1 yard line, Small handed off to Darrell “Quicksilver” Roberson, who glided in with ease for his first touchdown of the season. Boberg kicked the PAT for another point and Cardinal Ritter lined up to kick the ball back to Speedway.
With 0:32 left in the third quarter, the Sparkplugs scrambled to make any sort of significant gains. They threw an incomplete pass on first down and ran the ball for 4 yards on second before the clock ran out. The score was 38-7, Cardinal Ritter.
The Sparkplugs continued their drive as the final quarter opened up with an incomplete pass. Speedway called a timeout on 4th and 6 and ultimately chose to punt the ball to Cardinal Ritter. Egenolf returned the kick to the Raider 41 yard line and the next Cardinal Ritter possession began.
The Raider strategy for their next drive? Roberson. In four plays, “Quicksilver” ran for 39 yards. The Raiders lost a yard on 2nd and 3, but the Spark Plugs were flagged on the next play, giving Cardinal Ritter a free 5 yards. Roberson drove the ball for 9 yards on first down, but lost 2 on second. He picked up another yard, taking the Raiders to 4th and 2. Cardinal Ritter called a timeout to discuss their options and, feeling that Lady Luck was on their side, attempted another fourth down conversion. The Raiders could not convert, however, and the ball was turned over at the Speedway 6 yard line with 7:03 left in the game.
The Spark Plugs ran for 23 yards on first down and completed a 3-yard pass on the next play. Mitchell Wilson and Tre Stubbs fought on defense, allowing only 2 yards on second and third down. However, the Sparkplugs’ run-pass-run combo gained them 38 yards on the next two plays. Alec Frazee cost Speedway a yard on first down, but the Spark Plugs threw a touchdown pass on the ensuing play. In desperation, Speedway attempted the 2 point conversion, but were met with the stone wall of Thomas Jost before they could deliver.
Again, Speedway kicked an onside, and the Raiders recovered it at their own 49 yard line. Aiden Robinson carried the ball for 5 yards between first and second down. However, Cardinal Ritter fumbled the ball on third down, causing a turnover at the Spark Plug 32.
The Sparkplugs picked up yardage off from their passing game and a penalty against Cardinal Ritter. Before the final seconds ticked away, Speedway grabbed 11 more yards, but it was for nothing. The game had been decided. The Spark Plugs had not been playing against the Raiders, but against Fate, and as Terry Pratchett said, “she (fate) was playing with two queens.”
With the clock reading 0:00, the Raiders roared their battle cry as they were met on the field with waves of the toga-dressed student section and members of the CYO athletic teams. The fans shouted with glee as the Raiders were presented with the 2017 West Side Super Bowl trophy. Cardinal Ritter had pushed forward all game long, propelled by the cheering of fans, the spirit of the Lady Raiders and West Deanery cheerleaders, as well as the boisterous, powder-throwing, music-blaring student section and the symphonic orchestras of the marching band.
At the end of the game, Coach Powers was asked how this victory over Cardinal Ritter’s rival team would impact their upcoming games. He answered, “This win felt great, and every win feels great. We did what we needed to do to win, but now we need to improve on that.”
Knutson had arguably the best game of his career rushing the ball 16 times for 98 yards and 2 TDs and catching 1 ball for 28 yards and a touchdown. Roberson filled in very well rushing the ball 14 times for 78 yards and a touchdown. Small led the team from under center going 12-19 for 157 yards and 2 TDs for a 124.2 QB rating. Woodcock led the receivers with 68 yards and a touchdown on 4 catches followed by Egenolf with 4 balls for 36 yard and Price for 2 balls for 21 yards.
The defense was led by their front line with Giebel and Hunt each having 6 tackles followed by Suozo with 5 and Egenolf, Donovan Morris, Marlon Anderson and Woodcock with 4. Woodcock also added a big sack to go along with his recovery.
Next week, your Raiders will be traveling out to Linton-Stockton High School to play the Miners. Go out and cheer on your team!