South Range rumbles past rival Springfield
The Raiders finished 9-1 and are hoping for a playoff spot.
By JOHN BUTERA
NEW MIDDLETOWN -- From the opening kickoff, it was clear that this edition of the South Range High football team wasn't going to be called, "The Raiders of the Lost Spark."
Using a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Justin Carolyne to open the game, South Range scored in every quarter Friday, turning back Springfield 34-10.
The win stretches the Raiders mark to 9-1 and gives them second place in the Inter-County League at 5-1. They also look to be a lock for the playoffs.
"Our calculations say we're in," said South Range coach Dan Yeagley. "But we still have to wait and see. We are going to keep practicing."
Were eighth in region
South Range entered Friday's game eighth in Division V, Region 17.
Behind the running of Melio Rios, Springfield was able to tie the game at 7-7 when Anthony Warren capped a 31-yard scoring drive at 3:51 of the opening quarter with a 1-yard run.
Warren's interception set up the march and Rios, who finished the game with 111 yards on 21 carries, was already eight for 55. Those 55 put him over 1,000 on the year.
From there, it was mostly South Range controlling the ball and adding more touchdowns.
Its possession after the Warren score chewed up 6:22 and covered 77 yards on 15 plays, while later in the contest the Raiders used nearly four minutes en route to a 61-yard, 11-play march.
Tigers still optimistic
His team down 21-10 at halftime, Tigers coach John Smith still was optimistic.
"I still felt we were in it," said Smith. "But it was that opening kickoff that left us a little shell-shocked."
South Range put the game away early in the third quarter when John Less, who earlier hit Brandon Bierdeman for an 8-yard touchdown, intercepted a pass to start the 61-yard scoring march.
Ben Johnston's second score of the game, a 2-yard burst at 4:45 of the third, put the Raiders up 28-10.
For the game, Springfield (7-3, 4-2) rushed for 127 yards and passed for 101 more, but three interceptions and costly penalties were a factor.
South Range had 235 yards of total offense, 210 on the ground.
Both teams enjoyed playing this rivalry on the season's last week. With the league's rotating schedule, that happens only once every seven years.
"I think it's great," said Smith of ending the year with rival South Range. "I told the kids at the start of the year that this would be a special game and it would mean something. And it did."
Yeagley, meanwhile, had praise for everyone.
"This was a total team effort," he said. "Special teams. Young kids. It was exciting."