|5/0||Div. I||All-American Conference Gold Tier|
By Doug Chapin
A difficult high school football season continued that way Friday night for Harding High as the Raiders dropped a 14-13 Lake Erie League decision to Euclid at Mollenkopf Stadium.
The Raiders (1-6, 0-4 LEL) and Panthers (2-5, 2-2) did not look like a pair of 1-5 teams as they battled down to the wire.
“That’s the one thing I’m most proud of and we saw that on Monday, then we had the best week of practice we’ve had all year,” Harding coach Rick Rios said. “The kids just decided they were going to do whatever they could to turn this season around. They gave us a great effort tonight.
“We still made a lot of mistakes and blew some opportunities, but I can’t fault our effort. One thing we asked them to control this week was their attitude and their effort and I thought they were exceptional at that.”
Junior running back LeShun Daniels got the Raiders off to a great start, taking the opening kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown. After a Euclid punt, Daniels raced 65 yards to pay dirt on the Raiders’ first play from scrimmage and Harding led 13-0 less than three minutes into the game. Daniels finished with 140 yards rushing on 18 carries.
“LeShun’s just a great player and he’s going to continue to get better,” Rios said. “He’s banged up himself, but he did some really good things for us. We put in some new wrinkles for him and he did well.”
Euclid got on the board with a nine-play, 68-yard scoring drive midway through the second period. Quarterback Benny Walker snuck in from a yard out with 7:03 on the first-half clock.
Three plays later Euclid’s De’Andre Rollins picked off a pass from sophomore quarterback Lamar Carmichael and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown. Louie Tortorici’s second point after kick ended up deciding the game.
“That [interception] changed a big part of that first half, I thought we lost all the momentum,” Rios said. “By the middle of the third quarter we got our legs back and started controlling the game a little bit, but we made some sophomore mistakes at inopportune times.”
The Raiders began two consecutive possessions early in the fourth quarter at the Euclid 37, but failed to make a first down.
“At that point I think we had two sophomore tackles, a sophomore quarterback. It just comes down to we’re plugging away trying to find ways to make things happen and we’ve got too many guys banged up and injured right now,” Rios said.
Carmichael split time at quarterback with junior Jimmy Rumple and rushed for 61 yards on nine carries. He was 4-for-9 passing with two interceptions and 17 yards. Rumple also threw for 17 yards on three completions in six attempts. Chance Harper had four catches for 38 yards.