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Football: East Ridge falls to Champlin Park, Park falls to Forest Lake

Quarterback Zach Zebrowski hands the ball off to running back Emmanuel Okeleye during East Ridge's first game of the season against Champlin Park. The Raptors fell to the Rebels with a 27-23 final score. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 3
Senior wide receiver Alex Larson catches the ball over the Champlin Park defender. The Raptors lost 27-23 over the Rebels. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 3
Senior defensive back Riley Larson pulls the Champlin Park receiver down to the ground. East Ridge lost 27-23 to Champlin Park on Thursday night. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 3

Fight. Grit.

Those are the two words that head coach Dan Fritze described this 2018 football team for East Ridge High School.

The Raptors showed those two characteristics on Thursday night as the score went back-and-forth for the last half of the fourth quarter. Even though the final score didn't favor East Ridge as Champlin Park won 27-23, Fritze was glad the players never quit.

"When teams are going back-and-forth like that, all you can ask for kids to compete and never quit," Fritze said. "This team, there's no quitting in them."

It was the first night of football for either Champlin Park or East Ridge and both teams looked focused and ready to play once they hit the field.

The first quarter ended and the was tied 0-0 as no team was able to score. There were a handful of fourth-downs that couldn't be converted and a number of flags for each team.

Once the second quarter started, the scoring started as well. Champlin Park started it off with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Bennett Otto to Jaice Miller to make it a 7-0 lead. Three minutes later, the Raptors came back with a touchdown of their own as Simon Stark threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Edwards to tie the game.

About four minutes later, Otto found Kato Seley for a 3-yard touchdown and the extra point was blocked, so the Rebels led 13-7. The scoring continued before the half as Jack McKenzie kicked a 26-yard field goal with only a second left in the half to make it a 13-10 score.

"It was definitely a back-and-forth game from the first score," said East Ridge quarterback Zach Zebrowski. "Anytime they scored we were able to fight back and score as well. It was good to see that fight in the first game of the season."

A few minutes into the third quarter, Champlin Park scored again with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Otto to Miller to make the score 20-10 in favor of the Rebels. About five minutes later, Zebrowski used a quarterback sneak to find his way into the end zone to make the score 20-16.

Heading into the fourth quarter, Champlin Park missed a field goal and the score stayed at 20-16 for the majority of the quarter. Then, the last three minutes came and the grit came out.

The Raptors scored with 1:52 left in the game as Zebrowski found Alex Larson for an 8-yard touchdown pass to give East Ridge a 23-20 lead. The Rebels came storming back though and with 58 seconds left in the game, Otto ran in for a 23-yard touchdown to give Champlin Park a 27-23 lead.

East Ridge came back on the field and drove down the field, but an interception with six seconds left ended the Raptors comeback chances and the Rebels came out with the 27-23 victory.

"I saw we really came together as a family when we were down and fought back together," said defensive lineman Marco Cavallaro. "It was a great team effort."

For Fritze, he was happy to see some players make plays and this upcoming week he's going to try and figure out how to give them the ball more. He was hoping to see some players step up and make big plays, so he'll be watching film and going from there next week.

Zebrowski and Cavallaro agreed that players stepped up both offensively and defensively to contribute to either scoring or stopping drives. They said that they needed to see that in the first game because it translates to the rest of the season.

"These new players have been working in the weight room, but you don't know how it's going to turn out on the field," Zebrowski said. "It's great to see them showing it on the field right away."

Other football scores

Forest Lake 22, Park 13

Forest Lake took a 9-0 lead heading into the half after a field goal from Calder Erick and a 35-yard touchdown run by Tristan Cordie. Park came back in the third quarter with a touchdown from Marshaun Campbell to Ashton Morrison for 11 yards. That made the score 9-7 in favor of Forest Lake.

Cordie and Forest Lake came back to score 13 unanswered points as Cordie went in for a 3-yard touchdown and, then, Troy Pleski ran in for a 2-yard touchdown. Those two scores made it a 22-7 lead for Forest Lake.

Park came back to score one more touchdown as Campbell connected with Charlie Gorres for a 16-yard touchdown. That would be the last of the scoring in the game as Forest Lake finished on top with a 22-13 final score.

Campbell finished the game with 244 passing yards and completed 23 out 40 passes with two passing touchdowns for the Wolfpack. Morrison had three receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown as Gorres had six receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown.

Park will host Mahtomedi at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 7.

Brian Mozey

I am the sports writer for the Woodbury Bulletin and South Washington County Bulletin. I'm a graduate from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University and have always had a passion for sports since a young age. Whether it was watching or playing sports, I always knew sports would be in my career. I've been born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis and look forward to continuing to learn more about the Woodbury and Cottage Grove area throughout my time in this position. 

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