By Jack Adams
The Cardinal Ritter Football Team played their Homecoming game against Beech Grove this past Friday. The first quarter was a deadlock, but after that, the Raiders played a shutout against the Hornets all game long. There were several fantastic plays made on the field that boosted the players’ morale and utterly redeemed them from their loss against the Tigers last week. The final score was 28-0, marking a huge win for our boys in red.
Prior to the start of the game, the seniors of the Football Team, Cheerleaders, and Tennis Team were all acknowledged for their hard work, alongside their parents and family. At the coin toss, Cardinal Ritter chose to receive. The Hornets kicked a squib to Luke “The Laser” Shearer, who covered it up at the Raider 30 yard line. On 1st down, Seth “the Kraken” Knutson rushed for a gain of three and subsequently caught a ball from Diomoni “Supreme” Small for another three. Small ran the ball up for a yard on 3rd down. From 4th and 3 on their own 37, the Raiders sent in Dillon “Rube” Olejnik to punt the ball away. Beech Grove returned the punt to their own 40, stopped by Knutson.
The Hornets’ quarterback ran the ball on 1st down, but “Charging” Trey Hunt was quick to shut him down after a pick up of only one yard. Beech Grove gained eight yards between the next two plays, with Darrell “Quicksilver” Roberson making the tackle on 3rd down. The Hornets continued making small gains, fighting against Ben “the Jet” Egenolf and the Cardinal Ritter D-line. The Hornets were penalized for a false start, costing them five yards on 1st and 9 from the Raider 36. Henry “A-Bomb” Woodcock made the tackle on the ensuing play after a gain of three, followed by a tackle by Manolo “Man-O-War” Suazo, who allowed no gain on 2nd down. After Olejnik broke up a pass on 3rd and 11, Beech Grove punted the ball into the arms of Egenolf at the Raider 14 with 4:34 in the first quarter.
From their own 32 yard line, Beech Grove ran the ball for a gain of five and were stopped by Hunt. Olejnik and Suazo made a tag-team tackle on 2nd down after a measly pick up of two. This was complemented by Bryce “Black and Blue” Giebel and Hunt, who shut down the rush on the next play for no gain. Facing 4th and 3 and still in their own territory, the Hornets punted the ball to Egenolf, who received it on a fair catch at the Raider 20 yard line with under a minute remaining.
As the second quarter began, Cardinal Ritter was looking to dominate. On 2nd down, Woodcock caught a ball from Small for nine yards, followed by a gain of two by Knutson for a first down. Egenolf caught a pass from “Supreme” for seven and Knutson carried the ball for a huge 19 yards on 2nd down. From the Hornet 44, Small drove the ball further down the field for eight yards and Knutson had another big gain of 18 as he moved the ball on the ground.
On first down, Small carried the ball for seven to the Beech Grove 11 yard line and Egenolf rushed for a gain of four on the ensuing play. Small picked up another two on the ground, but the Raiders were charged with holding on the next play, costing them 10 yards from the spot of the foul, and pushing them back to the Hornet 25. After another loss of four on 2nd down, Small completed a long pass to Jake “The Snake” Kluemper l for a 28-yard gain, taking the Raiders to the Hornet 1 yard line.
On 4th and 1, Cardinal Ritter called a timeout. After a brief council with the coaches the team returned to the field. Instead of going for the easy drive forward, Small threw a pass to Egenolf, who caught it for a touchdown leaving 4:45 before halftime. The ever-dependable Matthew “Ironfoot” Boberg kicked the extra point, which was good. Boberg then kicked the ball back to the Hornets, who returned it to their own 32 before being stopped by Marlon Anderson.
The Beech Grove QB ran the ball for five on 1st down before the iron-willed Giebel made the tackle. Kluemper stopped the next play after only a gain of two on the ground. The Hornets were charged with a false start, moving them back to 3rd and 8 from their own 34 yard line. After a Beech Grove timeout, the Hornets threw the ball square into the hands of Egenolf, who intercepted the ball at the Hornet 31.
With 2:40 left in the first half, the Raiders began their next drive by handing the ball to Knutson, who drove it through the Hornet D-line for a massive 31-yard touchdown just eight second after the Raider possession began. Boberg’s PAT was good and Ironfoot kicked the return to the Hornets, who made it to their own 38 yard line before Shearer made the tackle.
Hunt, Knutson, Donovan Morris, and Javon Rodgers fought the Hornets on defense as they trickled their way down the field yard by yard. On 2nd and 6 from the Raider 22, Daniel “the Slammer” Ayala and Anderson sacked the quarterback for a loss of three. The Hornets picked up two on 3rd down before calling a timeout with 18 seconds on the clock. Deciding to go for it, the Hornets ran the ball on 4th and 7, but Hunt stopped them just short of the first down, turning over the ball to the Raiders.
From their own 20 yard line, Small knelt the ball and ended the first half. The score was now 14-0, Raiders, and they weren’t about to let the Hornets put any points on the board.
During halftime, the 2A Baseball State Champions were presented and given their rings, which were blessed last Tuesday by Father Vince Lampert and Father Matt Tucci during all-school liturgy. The Homecoming Court, led by Principal Steven Pelych and President Jo Hoy, were also escorted out onto the track. After much anticipation, Eli Esterline and Emma Eiffert were crowned Homecoming King and Queen.
As the Raiders returned to the field to do some last-minute prepping before the second half, quarterback Diomoni “Supreme” Small was asked how the results of this game—being Homecoming and the last home game of the season—would affect the rest of the season and the games to come.
He answered, “This game is no different whatsoever. We’re just trying to bounce back from our loss last week. We are a much better team than we showed and we just need to come out and show everybody and show ourselves and play for each other.”
And show everybody they did. With the commencement of the third quarter, Boberg kicked the ball clear across the field for a touchback. The Hornets managed to pick up a first down after two plays, though not without having to struggle against the might of Olejnik and Giebel. The Raiders were flagged for facemask, giving five free yards to Beech Grove, but it would not do them much good in the long haul. Kluemper, Ayala, Suazo, Olejnik, and Woodcock contained the Hornet offensive and forced them to punt from the Raider 47 yard line with 7:36 left in the third.
The touchback punt brought Cardinal Ritter to their own 20 for their next possession. The Kraken rushed for 11 yards on the first play, followed by an 11-yard reception from Small to Brad “Big Play” Bacon. Knutson picked up 19 yards over the next four plays. On 3rd and 7 from the Hornet 39, Small weaved in and out of the Beech Grove defenders for a whopping 24-yard carry. On the next play, Egenolf caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Small with 4:52 left in the third. The PAT was good and Boberg booted the ball to the Hornets, who made it to their own 32 yard line before being stopped by Tre Stubbs.
The Hornets rushed the ball for two yards on first down, hit with the fury of “The Slammer.” On the play after, Kluemper, Woodcock, Giebel, and Knutson showed the might of the Raider Nation by quickly shutting down the run for no gain. Giebel sacked the QB for a loss of 6 on 3rd down and the Hornets punted the ball on the following play with 2:19 left in the third quarter.
Egenolf caught the ball at the Raider 38 and the next drive began. Knutson powered forward on the ground for a pick up of 12 yards. Small gained 5 yards between the next two plays, but there was an incomplete pass on 3rd down. On 4th and 5, Olejnik punted the ball to the Hornet 25 with just 38 seconds left in the third.
On 1st down, the Hornets were penalized, costing them big and moving the ball back to the Beech Grove 3 yard line. Before the next play could even start, the Hornets were again flagged, this time for illegal motion. The third quarter then ended and the final fight began. The score was 21-0, Cardinal Ritter.
The Hornets opened up the fourth quarter on 3rd and 30 from their own 5 yard line. After a gain of two on the play, stopped by Giebel and Suazo, Beech Grove went to punt away the ball. However, in quite possibly the most spectacular play of the game, Marlon “Hotshot” Anderson both blocked the punt and managed to hold onto the ball in the endzone for a Raider touchdown with 11:18 left in the game. The Raider fans were ecstatic. The Cardinal Ritter Band blared music, the Lady Raiders cheered triumphantly, and the Student Section was lit up with shouts of praise. The point after was good and Boberg launched the kick into the Hornet endzone for a touchback.
Despite the demoralization of their last possession, Beech Grove did not give up and laid it all out on the field: blood, sweat, and tears (well, maybe not actual blood, but you know what I mean). Over the course of several plays, the Hornets drove the ball 45 yards down the field to the Raider 35 yard line. Giebel, Javon Rodgers, Suazo, and Egenolf all made tackles on defense with the Cardinal Ritter D-line. After Egenolf broke up a pass on 3rd and 9, the Hornets ran the ball forward, but were stopped before they could make the conversion.
With 7:18 remaining on the clock, the Raiders began their next drive from their own 13 yard line. Knutson carried the ball for seven yards on the first play, but the Raiders suffered a loss of four on 2nd down. After a brief timeout with 5:49 left in the game, Small charged through the Hornet D-line like a freight train, clutching the ball as though his life depended on it for a huge 25 yards. He followed that up with a 12 yard completion to Kluemper. Small ran the ball for another two yards, succeeded by a sweep to Knutson, who rushed the ball for another seven. On 3rd and 1, Cardinal Ritter called a timeout with exactly 4 minutes left in the game.
When the team returned to the field, Small gave the ball to Quicksilver, who carried it for a solid eight yards to move the chains. After a loss of two on 1st down and no gain on 2nd, the Raiders were flagged with a false start, costing them five yards. Another loss of three forced Cardinal Ritter to send in Cam Houston to punt the ball on 4th and long from the Hornet 40.
The Hornets returned the ball to their own 20 yard line with less than a minute to go in the game. Beech Grove ran the ball for six yards and Rodgers made the final tackle of the game. As the clock timed out, the scoreboard read 28-0, Good Guys.
There are no words to describe the emotion that coursed through the fans, cheerleaders, coaches, and players as the crowd erupted with cheers and applause. The Raiders had dominated on the field, playing a total shutout against the Hornets. This mirrored the 2013 State Championship game against the Tipton Blue Devils in which the Raiders won 56-6, as well as the 2016 State Championship game against the Eastbrook Panthers, which saw the Raiders winning 28-6. In both cases, the Cardinal Ritter Football Team had played near-shutouts against their rivals. However, there was something particularly special about winning so phenomenally on their home turf at their Homecoming game that could not be felt anywhere else, even at a state championship game.
After the assembled Raider Family chanted the Cardinal Ritter Fight Song, Marlon “Hotshot” Anderson was approached and asked how his punt-block-touchdown play had impacted the remainder of the second half of the game.
He responded, “It brought a lot of energy for the team. It set off the energy for everybody to keep going.”
Anderson’s play had truly been a focal, turning point of the game. While the Raiders had already been substantially in the lead, it was this play that solidified their dominance and caused Lady Luck to go all in for the team. A game like this can have serious repercussions on the rest of a team’s season. Because Cardinal Ritter pulled away with a significant win over their opponents, this could easily give them enough momentum to beat Scecina Memorial next week at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Charging” Trey Hunt voiced his thoughts, saying, “This should carry over well. We’ve got a big competition against Scecina and we’ve got to work hard against them.”
There is nothing like a victory on Homecoming night to bring together a football team. But the Cardinal Ritter Raiders are more than that. The Raider Nation is more than just a football team, or cheerleaders, or coaches, or fans, or band members, or students. The Raiders are a family. THE Raider Family, united both on the field and beyond through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Raiders build each other up and support one another in everything we do.
So grab your tickets, say a prayer of thanks, and go support our boys next Friday, October 6, at Lucas Oil Stadium as they play the Scecina Memorial Crusaders. The game will start at 5:30. We hope to see you there, and God Bless you all.