Football: East Ridge improves to 2-1, Park and New Life fall
East Ridge 43, White Bear Lake 28
Last week, the East Ridge Football team used its passing attack on the Stillwater Ponies. It resulted in a dominating performance as the Raptors won 45-24.
This week, East Ridge started off with the passing attack, but White Bear Lake forced the Raptors to go to the rushing attack.
Little did White Bear Lake know, but East Ridge can run and the Raptors showed it with the help of Zach Zebrowski, Kendall Moore and Emmanuel Okeleye.
This teamwork allowed East Ridge to come out with the victory over the White Bears on Friday night with a 43-28 final score.
"We got to have balance," said East Ridge head coach Dan Fritze. "[White Bear Lake] played their defense to take away the pass."
Fritze added that the Raptors can't be one dimensional. If they are, the opponents defense will make it a nightmare each game for East Ridge.
On Friday night, White Bear Lake focused on stopping the passing game, so Fritze ran the ball.
In the first half, the ball was handed to junior running back Moore the majority of the time along with occasional runs by senior quarterback Zebrowski. Fritze added senior running back Okeleye to the mix as well.
Fritze said he doesn't want to see Zebrowski run the ball as much because he wants to use Zebrowski for his arm and his accuracy down the field. Fritze also appreciates though he is a dual threat and has the ability to run down the field.
The only thing that scares Fritze is when Zebrowski doesn't slide, but rather puts his shoulder out to get an extra yard. Fritze jokingly said that it makes him hold his breath a little bit.
Zebrowski enjoys the running aspect to his game, but understands that his arm strength and arm accuracy is needed.
"I think it's part of the grit that we have of never giving up," Zebrowski said. "It's fun though."
In the first quarter, the passing game was working effectively as the first two touchdowns for East Ridge came from a pass by Zebrowski. The first touchdown was recorded by Cameron Ashford, while the second touchdown went into the hands of Alex Larson.
The next three touchdowns came from the legs of Moore as he found his groove both down the middle of the field and on the outside part of the field. He landed in the end zone three times and Fritze said he'll be a two-way player going forward since he plays defense as well.
After Moore's run, Zebrowski found the end zone with a rushing touchdown to seal the victory for the Raptors in the fourth quarter.
"The first couple games were focused on the passing game," Larson said. "It's great to see the running game become dominant because it opens up our offense more and more. It shows because we were able to put 40 points on the board."
The one thing Fritze, Zebrowski and Larson learned tonight is that they need to correct the little things in the game, so East Ridge can put the game away at an earlier point in the game.
Fritze said White Bear Lake kept fighting back after an East Ridge touchdown and it kept the score close for the majority of the game. The Raptors had two turnovers with an interception and a fumble, so Fritze wants to minimize those errors in future games, so the opponent will not be able to come back.
Overall, the Raptors are happy with the win to improve their record to 2-1 on the season and they're also happy with another 40-plus scoring performance.
After two home games, East Ridge will head back on the road next week as the Raptors will take on Roseville next Friday night.
"It's been nice having two home games and the crowd cheering for us," Larson said. "Our fans travel well, so I'm sure it's going to be a similar atmosphere next Friday. We just have to play our game and play together to get another win on the season."
Hastings 24, Park 21
Park fell to 0-3 on Friday night after losing a close game against rival Hastings. The Wolfpack led 14-7 heading into the half, but the fourth quarter went back-and-forth until the final seconds.
Hastings took a 17-14 lead with 7:46 left in the fourth quarter and Park took the lead back with 4:38 left.
An interception from the Wolfpack led Hastings down the field to score and earn the 24-21 victory to improve Hastings' record to 3-0 on the season.
Park will host Apple Valley at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 21.
St. Paul Johnson 35, Academy Force 13
Academy Force are looking for its first win of the season, but fell short to St. Paul Johnson on Friday night. Academy Force will travel to Mound Westonka at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 21.