By Max Goodwin
It appeared as if a disappointing start to the season was underway for the defending Class 6 Missouri State Champion Raymore Peculiar Panthers, as they trailed Rockhurst 14-0 at half of the first game.
It all turned around in the second half with defensive stops and avoiding offensive mistakes as Ray-Pec scored 20 unanswered points to beat Rockhurst 20-14.
“It was good to get out and get those first game jitters out of our system,” Ray-Pec coach Sean Martin said. “I was proud of how the kids responded in the second half showing resilience and toughness.”
Both defenses were able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and disrupt the offensive game plan. In the second quarter, Ray-Pec was trailing 7-0 and had a chance to score with the ball inside the Rockhurst 10-yard line.
On first and goal, the Rockhurst defensive line broke through the offensive line forcing junior quarterback Zander Dombrowski to toss the ball over their heads to the end zone where Rockhurst defensive back Isaac Cook awaited his first interception of the season. After the turnover, Rockhurst scored a touchdown before the half on a one-handed catch from receiver Gavin O’Boyle.
In the second half, Dombrowski looked less willing to make risky plays and began to escape the collapsing pocket faster to gain first downs on the ground. He got the ball to running back Nick Karr and wide receiver Jaidyn Doss who made plays for first downs as well.
It was the Ray-Pec defense that made the play of the game. With a minute left and the score tied at 14, Rockhurst had the ball with a chance for the game-winning drive.
Instead, Ray-Pec senior safety Jack Ardito stepped in front of the pass by Rockhurst quarterback Luke Bailey for an interception. Ardito ran the interception back for a decent return to give Ray-Pec the ball at the 25-yard line and just enough time to score. The Ray-Pec defense was able to limit Bailey’s ability to hurt them in the running game so he had to complete passes to pick up first downs which would lead to the interception.
“We did a better job containing the quarterback in the running game and the play-action passing game,” Martin said of the Ray-Pec defense in the second half.
Nick Karr ran in the winning touchdown from about nine yards out with 20 seconds left in the game.
“It is nice to get a win, we just have to stay on task working to improve each week.”
Other High School Sports
In other south Kansas City high school football news, coach Dan Joiner began his career as coach of the Grandview Bulldogs with a 45-14 win over Truman High School. The Bulldogs dominated the game from start to finish with a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and a 20-8 lead at the half.
The Center High School Yellowjackets beat Christ Preparatory Academy 34-6 in its season opener.
Ruskin High School canceled its first game of the season. The Twitter account of Ruskin Athletics and Activities tweeted two days before its matchup against St. Joseph Central was scheduled, which said “Out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of the players, coaches and fans, the Ruskin High School football team will not participate in the game against Saint Joseph Central High School scheduled for August 27 at 7 p.m.”
It’s not yet clear if that game will be rescheduled or when.