Our young men depart from Rittman High School parking lot, under police escort, to the cheers of a very proud group of fans.
Yes, fans, it has been a long, long time since The Indians were in the state playoffs. It has been since 1986 in fact. Ronald Reagan was still President and Art Modell was still in Cleveland and interestingly, not one of the young men playing in the game against South Range was even born. School history was made by these very tough and bravehearted young players and the depth of their accomplishment is actually quite staggering. I went to Joe Eitel.com and added up the eligible schools that could compete for a place in the playoffs. There is a total of 716 overall.
In Division V region 17, where we are at, there are 29 schools and an overall total of 119 for the division. Each team plays 10 games for a total of 1190 games in that division alone. As one can see the odds of reaching the playoffs are quite large and to get there is a very huge accomplishment. Congratulations to our team, they worked and fought hard and have earned a position of respect in school history that can never be removed.
The evening was a perfect setting for football.
The air was cool and crisp, but not overly so, just before game time. In fact, it was a perfect night for football, especially if you were one of the players on the field. A short stroll on the field also yielded the fact that the playing surface was in superb condition. Nothing was wet, loose, muddy or sloppy and there was no wind to speak of. In short conditions were great and they remained that way throughout the entire contest.
What can be said about our fans, they were there in strength and numbers to cheer on our team, just as they have been all season long. A special thanks to all of them for giving our boys the support they deserve.
The rabid fans of Rittman High School begin filling the stands (at right).
This was a special evening , as was evident when all the seniors on the team went to the field for the coin toss. The team captains separated from the rest and crossed to midfield where they made the call as the coin was tossed in the air. The Indians won the toss and elected to defer and defended the north goal.The Captains call it in the air as the rest of the seniors look on (pictured left).
Jayme Deffenbaugh's first kickoff was out of bounds and the Raiders took the option of putting it on their own 35 yard line. South Range made it as far as the Rittman 48 yard line before being forced to punt from their own 43. The Indians Greg Sharier took the punt from at Rittman's 20 yard line and returned it the 30.
The Tribe began eating large chunks of yardage getting 3 first downs in their opening possession, unfortunately on the tenth play of the drive South Range intercepted a tipped ball and took over possession at their own 21. Twelve plays later the first quarter ended and the Raiders were at the Rittman 7 yard line.
One play into the second quarter South range scored the games first points with a touchdown, the PAT was good and the score was 7 to 0 with 11:53 to go in the first half.
Sharier received the South Range kickoff at the Tribes 12 and returned it to the 33. The Indians made it to their own 42 on the start of what looked like a promising drive. Unfortunately the Raiders pulled in another interception at their own 36. One play later they hit paydirt again. The PAT was good and the score went to 14 to 0 with the clock showing 10:20 in the half.
The South Range kick went out of bounds at the Indians 40 and there the Tribe set up for offense. Despite trying very hard the Indians netted no positive yardage and punted from the original line of scrimmage. the punt was returned to the 50, however a flag on the Tribe moved the ball to the 38.
With such a short distance to score it took only 5 plays for the raiders to score again. The PAT was good and the score was 21 to 0 with 6:21 to go before halftime. This concluded the scoring for the first half as both teams exchanged possession twice each with a punt, interception and on downs. The Tribes offense takes the field in second quarter action of the playoff game.
The Raiders kickoff was returned as a reverse from Sharier to Cody Roberts who brought it out to the Indians 47 for excellent field position. Adam Jones attacked the left side for a 6 yard gain, followed by a 2 yard gain by Jesse Richards on second down. Richards then went in for a touchdown but it was called back for holding from the spot of the foul. Enough yardage was made that the play still resulted in a first down on the South Range 38. With some excellent running, passing and receiving by Jones, Richards, Sharier and Andrew Smith, the Tribe took the ball to paydirt on a pass completion from 6 yards out. With 5:19 left in the third quarter the PAT was no good after the Smith reception and the score was 21 to 6.
South Range opted for possession on their 35 as Deffenbaughs kickoff sailed out of bounds again. Seven plays later the Raiders scored from 37 yards out on a run up the middle. The PAT was good making the score 28 to 6 with 2:13 left in the period.
The Tribes next possession lasted 8 plays and spanned into the fourth quarter, when they finally gave the ball back on downs at the out Range 49.
Working with a short field, the Raiders took the ball into the endzone in 8 plays. The PAT was good and the score went to 35 to 6 with 7:32 left in the contest.
Sharier returned the kickoff to the Indians 22 form the 10. The ball was then moved out to the 37 due to a late hit call on South Range. First and 10 was a completion to Smith for 9 yards followed by a Richards scamper for another 3 on second down. On a first and 10 from the 50 Richards completed to Roberts to the South Range 35. The Tribe sputtered a bit and only gained 1 yard in 3 plays but on a fourth and 9 Adam Jones pulled in a pass and went al the way to the Raiders 17. The next play was another completion to Roberts for 10 yards that set up a first and goal from the South Range 7. The first 2 downs Richards drove the ball to the 2 yard line. On third and goal A.Jones scratched out 1 yard then on fourth and goal from the 1 Jones crossed the goal line amidst cheers from the crowd and cries from Coach Haas to "not give up men." As Adam crossed the goal line comments I heard from the South Range fans manning the chains were, "Wow these guy's are tough. They just don't give up".
The PAT was good and the score was 35 to 13 with 2:14 left to go. This ended the games scoring, and showed the strength of spirit our young have. Thank you all for being such fine representatives for our hometown. Adam Jones #32 lays across the goal while scoring his final touchdown as a Rittman Fighting Indian.