The fall season for Raiders sports kicked off this week culminating with a massive Indiana Crossroads Conference Football Game between our “Pirates of the Pigskin” and the Monrovia Bulldogs. It has been a weird time lately, but having athletics back brings back a sense of normalcy to everyone around us. We celebrated senior night first, then everyone went back to keeping socially distant while watching our Raiders in action. In the end, Cardinal Ritter came out on top 40-7 in their season opener at Marian University.
The Raiders offense did their part in following Covid guidelines as they made sure to keep socially distant from the Bulldogs defense torching them for 40 points in the first half. The Raiders offense was physical up front led by 6’4″ 295 pound offensive tackle Aaron Roberts and his four “Beefy Buccaneer Brothers,” Justin Gomez, Daveion Hardin, Isaac Jzar and Onye Nwosisi. All State tight end, Timmy Godsil also helped in the run game. They did their best in keeping the bulldogs at least 6 feet away from the Raiders running backs and for the most part, they succeeded with 6 points on 6 times.
Ashton “Round Mound of Touchdown” Hall was explosive, inserting himself early, announcing his presence with authority while leveling Bulldog defenders and leaving them in the dust. He started off the scoring with a 36 yard scamper to put the Raiders up 6-0 three minutes into the game.
The Raiders defense stopped the Bulldogs after 1 first down and got the ball back just over mid field. Gavin Crooke took the first play from scrimmage to the house on a power run play. After the extra point by Ben Valle, the Raiders were up 13-0. The Cardinal Ritter defense took exception to all the light being shined on the offense. Defensive Coordinator, Coach Browder dialed up some calls on the next series that was capped off with an Antwaan Dix sack on 3rd and long which effectively gave Cardinal Ritter the ball back in scoring position. The next series was capped off by an Austin Sultzer touchdown run of over 20 yards. Valle with another extra point put the Raiders up 20-0.
Coach Hunt said the kick-off team “flew down the field with each rep,” and on the ensuing kick-off, Troy Wilson proved him right as he flew down the field to tackle the Bulldog runner inside their own 15 yard line. Which set the tone for the next defensive series. Monrovia couldn’t do anything with the ball so they had to give it back to the good guys and Hall took advantage gashing the Bulldog defense for a 40 yard run. After a personal foul penalty, the Raiders were right back in scoring position and “RMOT” punched it in to go up 27-0. Monrovia didn’t have much luck on the ground so they decided to go to the air and Justin Browder came up with a pick on the next possession. The Raiders held the 27-0 score into the end of the first quarter in Bulldog territory.
Cardinal Ritter’s first team continued its rout throughout the second quarter. Hall scored his third touchdown of the game with 10:27 left in the half to put the Raiders up 34-0. The rest of the quarter was back and forth until the clock was under 2 minutes and the Raiders handed the ball to Hall again for his 4th score of the game to put the Cardinal Ritter lead at 40-0 going into the half.
The second half saw a running clock and was effective in seeing some of the depth of the Raiders defense. Many of the first team players came out to rest and the second team showed that they have a bunch of talent too. They held the Monrovia first team to only 7 points the entire second half.
The clock moved quick and the game was over with a 40-7 victory for the boys in black, red and sliver.
Coach Hunt said after the game, “The off-season had a lot of ups and downs ‘as we took’ each zoom meeting or summer practice with the hope that ‘Friday Nights’ would still happen. Our team wanted define the evening as a group effort.”
The off-season was tumultuous with the players having to stay distant throughout much of the off-season, when they came together for their first game it was a sight to see. As Coach Hunt put it, “United we can be difference makers!” This team showed unity and if they can continue to help each other grow, this team can be really exciting and can make some noise in the ICC and the state tournament.
Even with the overall team dominance, Hall was the talk of the town with people buzzing about his commanding 4 touchdown game. This was one of the most dominant performances since the 1966 Chicago City Championship when Al Bundy scored four touchdowns in 1 game to elevate Polk High past Jackson High. Hall finished the day with 203 yards rushing on 18 carries for an 11.3 yard per carry average. Sultzer and Crooke were behind him with 71 and 60 yards respectively with each carrying the ball 3 times and adding a score. Getting his first start under center was Gartrell with 15 yards on the ground while completing 2 passes to Browder and Godsil.
The stout defense was led in tackles by Crooke who had 10 tackles (8 solos, 2 assists). Putting the defense in place and managing the players was Browder who had 2 tackles and a key interception. Godsil and Dix added 6 tackles to their game with Dix adding the game defining sack. Following them was Hall with 4, Jordan Johnson, Troy Wilson and Sultzer with 3 and Josh Johnson, Jaylen Highsaw, Jayden Flemming, Jaylyn Shanks, Gabe Castaneda, Jzar, Roberts and Gomez with 2.