The Cardinal Ritter Football Team opened up the season on Friday night against Indiana Crossroads Conference foe, Monrovia. The game was a physical, back and forth, field position game that saw the Raiders fight hard, but ultimately come up on the wrong side of a 15-6 final score.
The Bulldogs won the toss and elected to receive taking the opening kick just short of mid field. The Raiders held strong on the first drive and brought about a 4th and 1, but Monrovia was able to just barely get a first down. On the next set of downs, the Bulldogs had a 3rd and long situation but were again able to convert before eventually scoring a touchdown and adding 2 points on the conversion. The Raiders defense was tough during the drive with Zach Feltz getting his nose in on seemingly every tackle.
The Raiders had their first crack at offense when Aiden Robinson returned the kick past the 20 yard line.
The Raiders were able to muster a first down but three plays later had to punt the ball back to the Bulldogs. LaDarryl Woods kicked a beautiful ball that pinned Monrovia inside their own 20 yard line. The Bulldogs began marching the ball down the field again and it looked as if all momentum was swinging their way. It seemed as if there was an echo in the stadium because after every play you heard, “Feltz in on the tackle.” The Raiders defense continued to bend on the drive but never broke, stopping Monrovia and getting the ball back after the first quarter ended.
On the Raiders next possession, quarterback, Jack “Rabbit” Henninger dropped back to pass and got blasted just as he was releasing the ball and threw a perfect bomb to Robinson who caught it in traffic and went off to the races for the Cardinal Ritter touchdown. The extra point was no good, but the Raiders gained momentum with an 8-6 score and less than 11 minutes to go in the half.
Matthew “Ironfoot” Boburg kicked the ball off to the Bulldogs and as they were forming their wedge, Jaden Brock came in like a missile, pancaking the first guy he saw and taking down another to stop Monrovia dead in their tracks. The Bulldogs were forced to punt back to the Raiders at the end of their drive.
The CRHS offense had some moments of brilliance on the next drive like the dime Henninger threw to Timmy Godsil, but the rest of the half saw some back and forth with neither team really gaining serious ground on the other.
The beginning of the second half saw the Raiders return the kick to about their own 35 yard line to start the drive. The team was marching the field right down with the momentum gained from another Henninger pass to Godsil for a gain of 20. But the Raiders had a costly turnover in front of the end zone which stopped the drive.
Monrovia ran the ball a couple of times but a fumble recovered by Alec Frazee at the Monrovia 40 yard line gave the Raiders good field position with a chance of another score. Unfortunately, they were unable to do so. After some more ground and pound offense by the Bulldogs, the Raiders go the ball back.
With 1:55 left in the third quarter, Henninger place another well thrown ball in the hands of Robinson for a completion of over 30 yards. The Raiders continued to drive but again had to punt the ball away.
After some more back and forth in the trenches, Monrovia attempted a field goal with 4:41 left in the game but missed which gave the Raiders the ball back with a chance to win. Henninger again completed another long pass to Robinson to gain some momentum.
The Raiders looked poised to score, but another costly turnover gave the ball back to the Bulldogs with 3:47 left. They then marched it down the field for a touchdown to go up 15-6 with 1:55 left on the clock to effectively seal the deal.
The Raiders were led on offense by Henninger who had 187 yards passing and 1 touchdown. Leading the receiving core was Robinson with 149 yards and a touchdown on 3 catches, followed by Godsil with 2 catches for 24 yards and Woods for 14 yards on 1 catch.
Feltz was the anchor on defense as he came up with 17 total tackles, 11 solo to lead the team. Ashton Hall chipped in with 12 tackles followed by Darrel Roberson with 11, Godsil with 10 Joe Bishop with 8 including a sack and Mark Kibirige also with 8, and Parker Gianoli, Aaron Roberts, Joseph Adyanju and Frazee adding 5 a piece.