Raiders’ Week 3 win over
Manchester was a thriller
By Tom Williams
After spending most of the season preparing for unfamiliar faces, the undefeated South Range High School football team is spending its second week in the playoffs getting ready for a rematch.
Last week, the Raiders (11-0) defeated Crestview 28-14, a game that was closer than their Week 6 contest (34-7).
You might think the Raiders would appreciate having a pretty good idea of what to expect.
Senior Peyton Remish has a different take.
“I think it makes it a lot harder,” the running back/linebacker said. “You hear a lot of people say it’s a lot harder to beat the same team twice.
“They know what you’re going to do, pretty much,” Remish said. “[But] we know what they are going to do.
“It’s pretty much a battle for four quarters.”
The Raiders (11-0) will take on Akron Manchester (9-2) in a Division V, Region 17 semifinal tonight in Louisville. It could be another thriller.
Back in Week 3, the Panthers jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the second quarter before the Raiders rallied for a 42-36 victory in one of the Mahoning Valley’s best games this season.
Senior lineman Matt Brooks agreed that the drive that followed the Panthers’ fourth touchdown was probably the most important one of the season.
“You could hear a pin drop in the stadium, it was so quiet,” Brooks said. “Once we got that score, we knew ... we’re not down that much, we just have to keep fighting.”
Three minutes later, senior quarterback Aniello Buzzacco scored from the 1 to cut the deficit to 10. Five minutes after that, Buzzacco connected with senior Mathias Combs for a 59-yard touchdown that made it 24-21 at halftime.
“It was just a championship effort, that game was,” Brooks said. ”We were kind of preaching that if we want to be a championship team, we had to do it right here.”
The Raiders took the lead early in the third quarter on a Buzzacco 26-yard run. It didn’t last.
With 5:28 remaining, Coye Schuler caught a 20-yard pass from Robert Wagner to put the Panthers ahead 36-34.
The Raiders responded with one last drive capped by Remish scoring from the 11 for the win.
Buzzacco passed for 215 yards and rushed for 117. Remish gained 104 yards.
For the Panthers, Wagner passed for 163 yards while Ethan Wright rushed for 137.
“They are a very, very good team,” South Range coach Dan Yeagley said of the Panthers. “[Wright] is just unbelievable. He’s the show and he makes things happen. That’s what is scary — he busted a 92-yarder against us.”
Wright’s long run put the Panthers ahead 12-7 in the opening quarter.
“We missed about eight tackles on that run,” Yeagley said. “He’s for real. We have to play well against him because they can hurt you at any moment in a hurry.”
“He’s a great player,” he said, adding the rematch is a mixed blessing.
“We kinda know what they do, what they are about,” he said. “But it’s kinda scary because we know they will be ready to go.”
The Panthers frustrated the Raiders, Brooks said, by playing eight men in the box and daring South Range to pass.
“That was before we had a tight end, so we only had five guys to block eight,” Brooks said. “So we were just scrambling around.”
When the deficit swelled, Brooks said they used a man-to-man approach that restored their swagger.
“When they play that kind of a defense, you know there are going to be big plays,” Brooks said. “We just have to block well.”
Remish said the Panthers impressed.
“They came out and hit us in the mouth,” Remish said. “It showed a lot about our character, how we never quit.”
The Panthers were the only team to score more than 28 points against the Raiders. In Week 9, South Range traveled to St. Clairsville for a 46-28 victory.
Their home schedule included wins against Zanesville and Brookfield as well as Pennsylvania’s Sharon and Sharpsville.
Manchester hasn’t lost since their trip to Mahoning County, scoring 55 points against Triway (5-5), 51 against Fairless (8-3) and 58 against CVCA (7-3).
Yeagley said the Manchester win “was a turning point for our team. It showed a lot of maturity coming back from [a 17-point deficit]. All of the sudden, we’re battle-tested and ready to go.”