By Jack Adams
The Cardinal Ritter Raiders Football Team returned to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since their State Championship game last year to play the Scecina Memorial Crusaders. The game began at 5:30 and was a showdown of two evenly-matched teams. Going into the game, both Cardinal Ritter and Scecina had identical records, however, once the clock had run out, the Crusaders pulled out with a win and a final score of 27-14.
As the game began, the Crusaders lined up for the kick. The squib went to Brad “Big Play” Bacon, who returned it to the Raider 30 yard line. On 1st down, Bacon ran the ball for about three yards, followed by a completed pass from Diomoni “Supreme” Small to Ben “the Jet” Egenolf for another three. On 3rd and 4, the Raiders suffered a loss of four yards. This forced the team to send in Dillon “Rube” Olejnik to punt the ball away with 9:27 on the clock.
The Crusaders returned the ball to their own 39 yard line and began their first possession. The Crusaders picked up a big first down off of a reception. On the next two plays, Donovan Morris and “Charging” Trey Hunt were quick to make tackles to shut down Scecina’s running game. After two incomplete passes, the Crusaders turned the ball over to the Raiders at their own 26 yard line with 7:32 in the first.
On 1st down, Small had a huge run of 23 yards. Darrell “Quicksilver” Roberson followed that up with a gain of five on the ground. Bacon caught two balls for 40 yards, taking the Raiders to the Crusader 6 yard line. Unfortunately, Cardinal Ritter fumbled the ball on the next play, which Scecina recovered at their own 12 yard line leaving 5:31 in the first quarter.
The Crusaders picked up three on their first down run, but were flagged for holding on the ensuing play. This costed them nine yards, moving them back to 2nd and 16 from their own 6. Following an incomplete pass that was nearly intercepted by Jake “the Snake” Kluemper, the Scecina QB ran the ball, but was tackled by Bryce “Black and Blue” Giebel after a pick up of only two. The Crusaders punted the ball to Cardinal Ritter and Bacon returned the ball to the Raider 48 yard line with 3:51 left in the first.
Egenolf began the next drive with a carry for five yards. There was no gain on 2nd down and the Raiders suffered a loss of nine on the play after. Olejnik then punted the ball back to Scecina with just over a minute left on the clock. The ball was stopped at the Crusader 3 yard line and the team began their drive.
Giebel shut down the 1st down run after a gain of three on the play. The Crusaders completed a pass on 2nd down and Kluemper was there to make the tackle. With the last few seconds before the second quarter, Scecina completed a touchdown pass. The point after was good and the first quarter came to an end. The score was 7-0, Scecina.
The Crusaders, beginning from their own 42 yard line, drove the ball down the field in a series of passes and carries. Javon “The Shield” Rodgers, Hunt, Kluemper, Egenolf, and Seth “the Kraken” Knutson made tackles alongside the Raider D-line. With 5:15 left before halftime, Scecina fumbled the ball and Giebel made the recovery at the Raider 22 yard line.
The Crusaders were stopped by Egenolf on the short 1st down run. They threw an incomplete pass on the following play and Egenolf and Kluemper made the tackle on 3rd down after a three-yard run. The Crusaders attempted a field goal, but Kendall “Demolition” Dalverny blocked the kick, turning over the ball at the Raider 24 yard line with 3:53 left in the second.
Small carried the ball for a 14-yard gain on 1st down, followed by a gain of five by Knutson. After an incomplete pass and a holding penalty against Cardinal Ritter, Small completed a long 27-yard pass to Egenolf at the 50 yard line. Price followed this up with another completion for an additional eight yards. After a loss of one on 3rd and 4, Kluemper caught a seven-yard pass from Small for a Raider 1st down. Henry “A-Bomb” Woodcock complemented this with his own 19-yard catch from Small. Following an incomplete pass, Knutson caught a ball from Small for a gain of two yards. Woodcock picked up a first down from a 14-yard completion to the Crusader 3 yard line. Unfortunately, the play after resulted in an incomplete pass and the second quarter ended after some questionable clockwork. The score remained 7-0, Crusaders.
He replied, “We’ve got to come out together as a team. We’ve got to play with a chip on our shoulder and we’ve just got to come together and make plays.”
And boy did they.
With the start of the third quarter, Matthew “Ironfoot” Boberg kicked to Scecina, who returned the ball to their own 34. The Crusaders ran the ball on 1st down, but fumbled the ball, which Egenolf scooped up and carried for a touchdown fumble recovery, just under half a minute into the second half. Thanks to Ironfoot, the point after was good and the Raiders were able to tie the game up. Boberg kicked the ball back to the Crusaders, who returned it this time to their own 20.
On 1st down, Scecina ran the ball and Daniel “the Slammer” Ayala made the tackle for a loss of three on the play. With 10:27 left in the second quarter, Knutson caught an interception at the Crusader 21 yard line.
Knutson carried the ball for 17 yards in three plays behind some pancake blocks by Woodcock, and put the cherry on top with a touchdown run. The PAT was good. With 8:47 left before the fourth, Cardinal Ritter had finally gained the lead in the game. Boberg kicked the ball back to the Crusaders, who returned it to their own 40 yard line before being stopped by Roberson.
The Crusaders then began making big gains down the field, primarily utilizing the air instead of the turf. They fought against Egenolf, Knutson, Giebel, and Hunt, but managed to score another touchdown. The PAT was not good, allowing Cardinal Ritter to remain in the lead by a point. Scecina kicked the ball back to the Raiders with 6:06 left in the third.
Bacon returned the ball to the Raider 30 yard line. Knutson carried the ball for three on first down, followed by a play action pass from Small to Woodcock for four. Knutson picked up another two on the ground before Olejnik punted the ball back to Scecina.
The Crusaders made run after run during their next drive. Knutson, Dalverny, Egenolf, and Giebel all made tackles to slow down the Scecina offensive. After an incomplete pass on 3rd and 8 from the Crusader 43, Scecina gained a 1st down from a pass interference penalty against the Raiders. With no gain on the following play, the third quarter came to a close. The score was 14-13, Cardinal Ritter.
As the final quarter opened up, the Crusaders threw an incomplete pass on 2nd down. On the play after, Marlon “Hotshot” Anderson sacked the quarterback and Scecina was charged with holding, costing them 10 yards from the spot of the foul and moving them back to 4th and 24 from the Crusader 45 yard line. Scecina punted the ball to Egenolf, who returned it to the Raider 23 leaving 11:23 in the game.
Small carried the ball for three yards on 1st down, but there was an incompletion on 2nd. Small picked up another five yards on 3rd down, but not enough to make the conversion. Olejnik punted the ball to Scecina, who returned it to their own 43 with 9:41 left in the fourth.
After an incompletion on 1st down, the Crusaders completed a pass and were stopped by Dalverny. Scecina was also charged with a personal foul, taking them back to the Raider 26. On the next play, Scecina score off of a touchdown pass, giving them back the lead. Their 2-point conversion was good and the Crusaders kicked back to Egenolf, who returned it to the Raider 25 yard line with 9:16 left in the game.
Egenolf carried the sweep on 1st down, but a holding charge took the Raiders back to 1st and 14 from their own 21. Woodcock caught a bullet from Small for 11 yards, moving the chains forward. The Raiders carried the ball on 2nd and 3, but fumbled the ball, which the Crusaders recovered at the Raider 36 with 7:52 left in the fourth quarter.
Scecina ran the ball on 1st down, but Rodgers was there for the tackle, causing no gain on the play. The Crusaders completed a three-yard pass and Olejnik made the stop. Scecina then completed a long pass to the Raider 2 yard line. After a brief timeout, the Crusaders rushed the ball into the endzone, scoring another touchdown against the Raiders. The 2-point conversion was no good and Scecina kicked the ball to Egenolf, who returned it to the Raider 26.
With 5:48 left in the game, the Raiders pressed on. Price caught a 12-yard pass from Small on 1st down, followed by a completion by Small to Egenolf for another nine. However, the Crusaders intercepted the ball at the Crusader 43 yard line, forcing a turnover with 4:45 left in the second half.
Scecina ran the ball for eight on 1st down, stopped by Rodgers. On the next play, Woodcock made the tackle for a loss of two against the Crusaders. Scecina pulled two QB sneaks for a quick gain of five and a 1st down. After driving the ball another 24 yards down the field, the Crusaders knelt the ball twice and ended the game. The final score was 27-14, Scecina Memorial.
Small led the team in passing going 13-20 for 156 yards and added 12 carries for 45 yards. Seth Knutson had 8 carries for 34 yards and a TD on the ground. Egenolf led the team in receiving with 6 receptions for 86 yards followed by Woodcock for 50 yards on 5 catches.
Egenolf also was key on defense with 8 tackles and the fumble recovery for a touchdown. Hunt led the team with tackles with 10 followed by Giebel with 8, Klumeper, Anderson, Ayala and Woodcock all aded 7 and Olejnik had 6. Knutson had an interception while adding 3 tackles.
The Raiders will go on to play an away game against the Park Tudor Panthers on Friday, October 13. Throw a little salt over your shoulder, don’t walk under any ladders, and watch out for black cats. Come out and cheer on your team!