The Cardinal Ritter Football Team traveled just north on Friday to take on the #16 ranked Brebeuf Braves in a possible preview for the 2020 IHSAA Regional Championship. The team was decimated by injuries throughout the Indiana Crossroads Conference match-up the week prior at Lutheran. With the injured players and the limited fans in the crowd, the mood was down last week. The Raiders received a huge shot in the arm right before the game this past Friday when many of the injured players received some good news and were able to participate in the match-up. Cardinal Ritter took the good news right into the game and hit the Braves in the mouth early, stunning the state ranked team and continuing to show their physicality throughout. Unfortunately, in the end, Brebeuf pulled out the victory 21-14, in one of the most exciting Friday night games in the state.
The Raiders were on defense first and they showed how strong they are, forcing an early 3 and out and taking the ball on offense with a fire to ignite the team. Our “Pirates of the Pigskin” showed that the offense can push people around up front and the Raiders runners could lower the boom when needed. Ashton “Round Mound of Touchdown” Hall picked up the first crucial first down on a third and short to keep the offense on the field. From there, Jayve Gartrell threw a bomb down the right side of the field to Jordan Johnson to pick up another chunk of yards. On the next third down Justin “Powder Keg” Browder picked up another short yardage 1st down, showing the Raiders weren’t going to back down.
Gartrell was asked to pass again on the next play, but the receivers were covered. Then, he was able to show he’s not just a rocket arm as he rolled right and was forced to tuck it in and run for 12 yards down to the 1. After that, the Raiders gave the ball to the man that always picks up the big, tough yards, Hall who came off the right side to power in the score. After the Ben Valle extra point was good, the good guys were up 7-0 early.
On the next possession, Brebeuf managed to get a first down, and tried to impose their will, but the Raider defense wasn’t having it. On second down, the Braves runner came head to head to the Raider enforcer, Austin Sutlzer who lowered his shoulder and dropped the Brebeuf runner in his tracks. On the next play, CRHS received the punt at midfield and began another march but after 3 quick plays, they were forced to punt the ball back deep in Brave territory.
The rabid defense was ready and on the first play the Brebeuf quarterback dropped back and was met with the unstoppable force named Antwaan Dix. Dix pushed the QB back so hard he coughed up the ball on a strip sack where Isaac Jzar was there to rumble it down to the one yard line. After that, the terror of the trenches, Aaron Roberts told Hall to follow him into the end zone. Roberts cleared the way and Hall ran in untouched for his second score of the game. The Valle kick was good and the Raiders were up 14-0 with 1:04 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kick-off, Brebeuf tried some trickery with a reverse that was snuffed out by special teams standout Troy Wilson as the Braves only got to the 23 yard line. On the next drive Dix again showed his dominance and unstoppable motor when he was double teamed and still sacked the rolling quarterback for a huge 8 yard loss. After a Brebeuf punt, CRHS punted back and on the punt, Gavin Crooke came down and laid the smack down at midfield on the opposing runner. Unfortunately, after a couple of long plays, the Braves went up on the board for a 14-7 score with 5:30 left in the half.
The Raiders offense stalled and was forced to punt but the defense came through on the next drive when the Braves tried to push the Cardinal Ritter defense around. The “Beefy Buccaneers” up front stopped the runner with a gang tackle on second down. Then on 4th and short the Raiders took the ball back when the Braves runner was met with a sea of swashbucklers who plundered the ball back with 1:15.
The Raiders had the ball again, but were forced to give the ball back before the end of the half. Dix was able to come through with another menacing sack to end the half with the Raiders up 14-7.
Cardinal Ritter received the ball at the beginning of the second half and showed that they could gash the defense with big plays as well. Gartrell dropped back to pass on second down and fired a ball to the sideline where Browder was covered, but got in front of the defender, tipped it in the air and came down with the amazing circus catch in Brave territory. It was all for not, as the Raiders could not push it into the end zone and were forced to punt.
The Raider defense was still dialed in and brought it to 2nd and 10 when Roberts used his large frame to swat the ball out of the air. On 3 and 10 the team made another great play to force a Brebeuf punt on 4th down with 7:52 left in the 3rd. Cardinal Ritter was forced to punt again and the Braves took the ball and started matriculating it down the field. It looked as if they were about to score when Gartrell leapt in front of a pass for a pick at the 6 yard line with 4:59 to go in the quarter.
Cardinal Ritter still could not get the offense going and were forced to again punt the ball away. The short punt saw the Braves recover inside the 25 yard line. A couple of plays later they scored to tie the game up at 14 with 2:11 left in the quarter.
The Raiders switched up the game on offense and gave the Braves a heavy dose of the “Round Mound of Touchdown” as he pounded the ball across midfield, destroying would be tacklers and leaving them in the dust. However, once they got across the 50,the Raiders again were forced to punt the ball and Brebeuf took the ball down the field to score and go up 21-14 with just under 10 minutes to go in the game.
Cardinal Ritter went back to what was working with the “Beefy Buccaneers” up front, they gave the ball to Hall as he torched the defense for 17 yards on his first run, then followed it up with a 3 yard run and another long run for 15 to bring the ball to the Braves 45 yard line. The Raiders had the ball on a 3rd and 1 and two costly penalties put them at 3rd and long and they were forced to punt once more.
The Raider defense was determined to give the ball back to the offense for another shot at a score and on 3rd and 6 Crooke came through a a huge 7 yard sack to give the ball back to Cardinal Ritter with one last chance. On fourth down, the good guys could not convert and were forced to give the ball back to Brebeuf which sealed the game.
A loss is still a loss, but the demeanor after the game was a stark contrast to the week before as the team stayed together throughout and the team stayed healthy. There was a lot of positives that happened in the game and just a couple of small things to work on that they will most definitely sure up going into this week’s rivalry game against the loathed Speedway Sparkplugs. The Raiders are looking to defend their Westside Trophy and come away with a big ICC win.
The offense was led by Hall who had another 100 yard rushing game running for 103 yards on 21 carries. Crooke, Gartell and Browder each had big runs on the night and Gartrell added 84 yards in the air. Catching the ball from Gartrell was Johnson for 39 yards, Browder for 31, Timmy Godsil with 11 on 2 catches and Crooke with 2 receptions.
Dix was a man amongst boys as he had 3 sacks, completely disrupting the Brebeuf offense. The only way he could be stopped was either double teaming or holding him. He also led the team with 9 total tackles, 8 being solo. Crooke was behind him with 7 total tackles (6 solo 1 assist) a sack and tackle for a loss followed by Godsil with 5 on limited defensive snaps. Hall showed he can also plug the middle on defense adding 4 tackles, 2 being for a loss and Jzar added 4 tackles to go along with his fumble recovery. Gartrell, Johnson and Roberts added 3 tackles each and Browder, Max Knutson, Wilson, Justin Gomez and Onye Nwosisi each had 2.
The Raiders are back in action Friday at 7 at Speedway High School as they look to right the ship against the Sparkplugs. Tickets are on sale for $5 at Cardinal Ritter until 3:30 on Friday.