Raptors out muscle Park in season opener
For nearly an entire quarter, it looked like things might be different this year.
“We were awful slow early, I thought,” Raptors’ coach Mike Pendino said. “It took us a little bit to get into a rhythm.”
But once East Ridge found that rhythm, it rolled.
The Raptors scored touchdowns on three drives in the first half to jump out to a 21-0 halftime lead en route to their 49-0 season-opening thrashing of Park on Thursday night at East Ridge High School.
“I would just say we got the feel for the game and we got acclimated,” Raptors’ quarterback Seth Green said. “When we did that we started to mesh together ... so we could start performing during the game, and that’s what we did.”
Green played a part in all three of East Ridge’s first-half scores. He plunged into the endzone from one yard out for the Raptors’ opening score of the game, and found senior wide out Bobby Remke, for two scores, one from 31-yards out, the other from 48, on two plays where Remke went up to make nice adjustments on balls and beat Park defenders for the scores.
Remke finished the evening with seven catches for 146 yards and the two touchdowns.
“Remke was looking really nice out there,” Green said. “He was using his size and talent to get the best of the D-backs.”
The second half provided more of the same for both squads, as East Ridge continued its offensive dominance behind Green’s arm and the legs of star sophomore back Dominik London.
London pounded out 216 yards on the ground as he found holes and bounced off of multiple Park defenders that crossed his path. London found the endzone on a 20-yard scamper that put the Raptors up 34-0 in the third.
“Dom is a force running the football,” Pendino said.
Green said the success of the running game opened up the pass as the Wolfpack were forced to pay attention to the run and respect East Ridge’s play action game.
That allowed Green to air it out with ease. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 307 yards and three scores through the air.
And Park’s offense, which was much improved a year ago with its new spread offense, had no counter as it struggled to move the ball throughout the evening.
“We didn’t get our offense clicking at all,” Park head coach Darin Glazier said.
That likely had a lot to do with East Ridge’s talented defense, which was the top unit in the Suburban East in yards allowed last year, and looked unbreakable Thursday night.
“It’s always exciting to watch our defense play,” Green said “They go and get after it, are fast and pretty much don’t give up any big plays. They did their job more than expected or more than what was asked of them, and it made it 50 times more fun.”
Park’s defense was stout for nearly all of the first quarter and was just beaten by the big passing plays between Remke and Green in the second quarter, but looked gassed in the second half as the Raptors’ offense started nearly every drive in Park territory and ran the majority of the plays.
For a Park team hoping to take the next step and show it could compete against the conference’s top dogs this season, Thursday night wasn’t the ideal start.
“We had kids dinged up right from the first play of the game,” Glazier said. “We don’t have the depth to replace them and it got to be interesting come the third quarter there where we had starters and backups and their backups all hurt. Special teams-wise we couldn’t get enough guys out onto the field at certain times. Nothing went our way. They’re a good football team and there’s nothing we can do about it. ... Poor showing, poor start to the season and we’ll have to try to recover next week.”
Park takes on Forest Lake, a team it’s topped in the last two meetings between the two, in its home opener Sept. 5. The Wolfpack won’t be taking anything from Thursday’s performance moving forward.
“We’re going to have the kids bury this one and we’re going to try to start fresh,” Glazier said.
But East Ridge has a lot of positives to take away from the victory, though Pendino said were plenty of places for improvement as well.
But you enjoy the win,” he said. “We’ve got to get better, but we’ll just keep working.”
The Raptors take on a Cretin-Derham Hall squad that handed East Ridge its lone SEC loss a year ago on Sept. 5 at the University of St. Thomas.
“If we prepare as much as we can, and then execute, we should be fine,” Green said.
Because as the Raptors showed Thursday night, something is indeed different between this season and 2013.
This time around, East Ridge may be even better.