Rebels claim 20th consecutive playoff appearance with a 52-20 homecoming victory over Ridgewood
By Jason Musselman
The Rebels reached a milestone Friday night, clinching their 20th straight playoff bid. And they did so in typical Rebels fashion, destroying the homecoming game competition, Ridgewood, 52-20.
Stark County scored on their first six possessions.
“I thought we came out really focused and put this game away early,” said head coach Jade Noard.
Quarterback John Groter was nearly perfect throwing in the first half and he found Logan Knobloch 97 seconds into the game for a 45 yard pass into the endzone, 7-0.
Two minutes later Groter handed the ball off to Chase Johnston and he was off to the races, going 36 yards into the endzone.
Ridgewood’s offense was stopped in their tracks by the Rebel’s defense all night, forcing six Ridgewood Spartan punts.
Stark County’s third TD came on a 20 yard pass to Daniel Beam and after a quick Spartans fumble, Groter kept the ball and ran 32 yards back into the endzone, 28-0.
The next possession for the red and black stalled at the 24 yard line and Coach Noard put the ball on the foot of his rising star, foreign exchange student Karl Wallander. Wallander nailed a 42 yard field goal just inside the second quarter, 31-0.
After a punt, the Rebels wasted no time, scoring on their first play with a pass to Knobloch from 58 yards out.
The Spartans were able to score later in the second quarter on an 18 yard pass play to the near side corner of the endzone, 38-6. The score came during a notable change in the Rebels focus that started with six minutes left in the half.
“We got a pretty big cushion, we made some changes, tried to do some different things and lost a bit of focus there,” said Coach Noard after the game.
After halftime, Stark County continued pushing the ball up the field with few problems again. Johnston carried the ball for a five yard touchdown, 45-6. Wallander later tried another field goal, this time from 40 yards out but missed to the left.
Ridgewood scored on another long pass play just after the start of the fourth quarter, 45-12. Next, the Rebels gave Johnston a break and put the ball in Lucas Wisnefski’s hands. Wisnefski drove the Rebels down the field and eventually scored from six yards out, 52-12, which started the continuous clock.
The Rebels might have been able to keep that margin, but as they have in the past blowouts, they switched out starters for younger players, giving the experience edge to the Spartans. In their final drive, Ridgewood scored on a quarterback keeper and converted the two point conversion, 52-20.
Nonetheless, the Rebels picked up their sixth win to remain undefeated and clinched their 20th straight playoff appearance on homecoming night.
Coach Noard is proud of his team for achieving that goal but the Rebels aren’t happy with just getting there.
“Now we can set our goals on some bigger things,” added Noard.
The Rebels will travel to Biggsville this week to face West Central, who is 0-6 on their season.