RPR falls to Bridger, but playoff hopes still very much alive
The Renegades are undefeated in conference play no longer.
Into Friday’s game against the Bridger Scouts went two teams with 4-0 conference records. At the end of the night, RPR left the field with one conference loss.
The Renegades began the game strong, holding the Scouts and then scoring on a 30-yard touchdown run by senior Derek Peterson.
A fumble recovery on the next set of Bridger downs set up RPR with great field position.
Two plays later, senior Dylan Blodgett wrangled in a pass with one arm for the Renegades’ second touchdown of the evening, making the score 12-0.
Following that second scoring play, RPR’s momentum slowed. With about three minutes left in the first quarter Bridger scored, and by the first play of the second quarter the Scouts had the lead, 16-12.
The Renegades responded with a long drive down the field, kept alive by a first-down rush by sophomore Lawson Steinfeldt. The drive was capped-off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to senior Payton Severin, putting RPR on top again, 18-16.
Bridger then scored twice back to back, the first touchdown being the result of a long drive, and the second touchdown coming from an interception return.
Despite the fact that the Scouts failed to capitalize on a second interception before half, Bridger went into the break with a healthy 30-18 lead.
Mid-way through the third quarter, junior Rory Markle intercepted a Bridger pass, getting the ball back for his team.
Unfortunately, on the very next play, the Scouts intercepted the Renegades’ pass. This interception was capitalized upon, and the Bridger touchdown stretched the lead to 20 points.
Right before the end of the third, the Renegades threw a fourth interception. The Scouts took advantage of the opportunity, scoring at the start of the fourth quarter.
The score did not change for the rest of the game, RPR falling 45-18.
Coach Derek Marsh noted the Scout’s ability to capitalize with big plays, saying the Renegades just didn’t do the same.
“We had opportunities to make big plays, but it didn’t go in out direction,” he explained.
Marsh said he is very proud of how hard the boys played, and he will be “expecting the same effort and intensity for the following weeks.”
RPR faces Shields Valley at home Friday night for the last home game of the season.
Friday’s game will be senior night, so the team’s five seniors – Peterson, Severin, Blodgett, Will Steinfeldt, and Sol Arno – will be recognized.
Marsh said that all of the seniors play a critical role on the team, and described them as “very respectful and hard-working young men.”
“This group of seniors has been nothing but great to work with, very coach-able,” Marsh said. “All of them start for us, and they work great together.”
Currently, RPR is the third seed in the six-man southern division. This week’s game against fourth-seeded Shields Valley is significant because, with a win, the Renegades have secured a spot for themselves in the post-season for the first time in five years.
Absarokee was the only Stillwater County team to post a victory last week, and it was a resounding 51-16 win over Gardiner.
The Huskies were successful running the ball last Friday. Coach Chris Gunderson credits this to successful blocking that is constantly improving and allows running backs to find holes, resulting in major yardage.
Gunderson felt the Husky defense did a good job containing Gardiner’s running back, as well as shutting down any kind of passing game.
A successful secondary will be key in Absarokee’s game this week against Lone Peak, Gunderson said. Lone Peak, with a 5-2 record, relies heavily on the passing game, so if the Huskies can disrupt it, Gunderson believes Absarokee can come out on top.
Friday’s game is senior night for the Huskies.
Gunderson said the team’s six seniors play pivotal roles on both offense and defense, so it will be important for the players to keep their emotions in check by playing for one another.
“This has been a good group of seniors, and their hard work and determination has paid off this season,” he explained.
Gunderson thanks the seniors for their commitment to the football program throughout their high school careers.
The Panthers struggled last week, falling to the 6-1 Ennis Mustangs.
Ennis dominated the first quarter, scoring 22 unanswered points. The Mustangs tacked on 12 more in the second quarter before Park City finally found the end zone on a 10-yard pass from junior Connor McNeil to senior Rylan Gauthier.
The Mustangs scored once more before halftime, setting the score at 42-6 going into the second half.
The third quarter saw each team score once more. The 20-yard touchdown pass from McNeil to junior Seth Popp as time expired in the third proved to be the final points scored in the game.
The final score, following a score-less fourth quarter, was 50-12.
Park City put up 237 offensive yards – 147 on the ground and 90 in the air. The Mustangs put up one more yard (238 yards) rushing alone, adding 64 more yards passing.
The Panthers travel to Joliet on Friday. The J-Hawks are 6-1 on the season, tied for first place in the conference. Park City sits at 4-3 in fifth place. The top four teams will earn a place in the post-season.
If the first play of the game can be any indication of how the rest of the game will go, Manhattan returning the opening kickoff during Friday’s game did not bode well for Columbus.
The five additional touchdowns scored by the Tigers in the first half put the game out of reach for the Cougars.
Manhattan added one more touchdown in the third quarter.
Columbus finally got on the board in the fourth quarter on a 16-yard pass from junior Carson West to senior Dylan Raihl. West found Raihl in the end zone again for the two-point conversion.
The Cougar score proved to be the last, making the final score 48-8.
Columbus generated only 148 yards of offense, including 92 passing yards and 56 rushing yards. In comparison, Manhattan put up 197 yards on the ground alone, in addition to 88 yards in the air.
West took the helm at quarterback last week, stepping up to fill the hole left by senior Eddie Foos, out due to a concussion. West completed 10 of 21 attempts for 92 yards, throwing one touchdown and two interceptions.
Senior Kenneth Smith led the Cougar run game with 28 yards on six carries, followed closely by senior Connor Goddard with 22 yards on seven touches. Raihl rounded out the group with one 9-yard rush. Both Smith and Goddard each had one fumble.
Columbus’ passing game was led by Raihl with 53 yards on five receptions, including the team’s only touchdown. Sophomore Tommy Campbell had a 13-yard catch, and Goddard had one 11-yard reception.
The defense was held down by two Cougar defensive ends, sophomore Ricky Preece and Campbell, with five and four tackles, respectively. Sophomore Rob Ivankovich and junior Colton Getz each put up three tackles. West had the team’s sole interception.
Coach Blake Hoge emphasized unforced errors in the team’s loss, saying, “It’s hard to win against good teams without taking care of the ball.”
This week, Columbus will face undefeated Whitehall in the last home game of the season.
Senior night festivities will recognize ten graduating Cougars – captain Foos, Goddard, Smith, Eduardo Pantoja, Ben Plymale, David Ziethen, Michael Davis, Michael Jacobson, Bo LeBrun, and Brad Hachler.
“This is a group of guys with a lot of character, and their leadership on and off the field will be missed,” Hoge said.
As far as Friday’s match-up, Hoge explained, “Whitehall is a high caliber team with an effective passing game, and it’s no secret that we’re going to be the underdogs.”
One of Whitehall’s receivers has over 1,000 yards receiving on the season already, so the Columbus defense will focus on hindering the Trojan passing attack, according to Hoge.
Offensively, Hoge said the Cougars will have to take advantage of any opportunities given to them, in addition to maximizing yards-after-catch. Quarterback Foos has been medically released to play in the game, so he is expected to return on Friday.
Hoge knows that the players, especially the seniors, “will give it everything they’ve got for their last scheduled appearance on their home field.”
In addition to senior night, Friday is also the Cougars’ pink game for breast cancer awareness.