Young Cardinals ousted in first round

Scott Stocker
Posted

ELIZABETH - The number seven seed in the first round of the Class 3A state football playoffs didn’t turn out to be lucky for Elizabeth.

On the other hand, the No. 10 spot turned out to be just right for visiting Silver Creek as the Raptors defeated Elizabeth, 33-14, last Saturday in the first round of the classification’s playoffs.

While a loss always turns out to be a disappointment the Cardinals at least they were able to come away with the league championship.

And, this is a young team with a host of developing talent.

“Our mistakes hurt us, but we fought hard all the way,” said Elizabeth’s junior quarterback Brody Oliver.

“We just have to get a lot better. We expect to learn from our mistakes and look to do things big time next year. We’re young, we’ll come back.

“But that drive in the second quarter, when we had them down deep hurt us,” Oliver said.

“We expect to learn from our mistakes and look to do things big time next year. We’re young, we’ll come back.”

Silver Creek had scored its first touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone. It was a play in which receiver Eric Machmuller had caught the ball at the two-yard line and turned toward the end zone. But the ball dropped out his hands when he was hit by a trio of Cardinal defenders just outside the end zone and bounced forward. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Machmuller was able to fall on the ball for the score.

The only good part here was that Elizabeth blocked the extra point attempt by Ryan Charles to trail 6-0.

Elizabeth took it’s only lead in the game in the second quarter with 9:25 remaining on a 14-yard run by Jordan Bucknam and the extra point by kicker Anton Alm.

But that lead would disappear with :25 left in the second quarter on the drive that Oliver eluded to.

Prior to the drive, Elizabeth’s Stuart Eurich was able to get off a punt that was not fielded by any of the Silver Creek receivers and rolled toward the Raptors end zone. The Cardinals Julius Antunez let the ball roll until it reached inside the one-yard line, downing the ball with 3:31 left in the quarter.

From here, disaster would strike for Elizabeth as Silver Creek would then fashion a 11-play drive that would help clip the Cardinals wings.

It would come to an end as Silver Creek’s Zane Lindsey hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Sjobakken for the eventual 12-7 Raptors lead at the intermission.

“It was very tough,” said Elizabeth coach Chris Cline. “We got them back to inches on the punt, but they drove 99 1/2 yards and score. They played well on both sides of the ball and their pass rush certainly got to us and gave us fits. We are a very young team, but league champs, that is wonderful. It’s something the boys can be proud of and build off from it. We only had eight seniors. We’ll get back to work and will build off this.”

The third quarter started out on a bad note for Elizabeth, but here, no harm would be done.

Logan Weber ran for 13-yards on the first play following the kickoff, but fumbled with the ball being recovered by Silver Creek’s Collin Gibbs. No harm here, though.

However, Oliver would be intercepted by Silver Creek’s Ross Fitzgerald with 5:13 left in the quarter that the Raptors would convert into an 11-yard touchdown pass by Sjobakken to Lindsey with 4:34 left. A fumble by Elizabeth’s Weber with 2:37 left would result in the second Raptor touchdown of the quarter, a six-yard pass to Andre Apodaca from Mitch Webster, who had stepped in to relieve Sjobakken.

“We had great season,” Fulbright said. “We won seven in a row and improved every week. Today is certainly a tough loss as we were giving it everything we had. Chas (Nicholas) was hurt and we missed him. Our offense and defense fought hard and Silver Creek gave it all they had and they wanted it.”

Silver Creek would close out it’s scoring in the fourth quarter with 6:03 left in the game with Sjobakken passing 19-yards to Trey Fleming for the score. Elizabeth would answer on it’s next posession, a 4-yard run by Bucknam, but the outcome had already been decided.

“We were able to make the big plays when we needed them,” said Silver Creek running back Josh Quiroz, who rushed for 113-yards.

“It was such a good effort by all our guys. We just couldn’t be beat today. The guys made the holes and we got on a good tempo.”

The running game for Elizabeth did not click.

Weber led the way with only 24-yards on eight carries while Oliver could only connect for 82-yards in the passing game. It was a tough loss, to, for senior Brandon Stranningan and junior Kevin Paredes.

“They were bigger than us, but not more physical,” Stranningan said. “But I think their size was an advantage. They were fast. We fumbled and that certainly hurt us and they took advantage of them. We got the league championship and that helped make it a good year.”

Added Paredes, “It was tough as we came out thinking we were ready. They came at us and we didn’t do what we needed to do and our confidence wasn’t with us at the end. Next year we will come back strong.”

Silver Creek coach Mike Apodaca was more than pleased the way his team responded.

“We were reved up to play and the boys gave it their all for the 48 minutes,” Apodaca said.

“We did our best to handle the various situations. They block our punt but we recovered. Josh ran very hard and he had the gumpsion to keep going. My hat is off to their kids. We knew that coming into Elizabeth could be tough as they were on a roll. Things just went our way today.”

HOEHNE FARMERS PUT THE HURT ON VISITING KIOWA

Kiowa coach Mark Clemmons knew well the situation his team was stepping into when the Indians traveled to Hoehne to play the unbeaten Farmers. When all was said and done, the game was much shorter than any would want as Kiowa fell, 52-16, ending the year 9-2.

Hoehne led 40-0 with about one-minute remaining in the second quarter and that would get the clock running. Kiowa would score one touchdown in the third period and add their second with time running out in the fourth.

“The wind, too, was to much for us to handle and they are just an excellent running team,” Clemmons said.

“I thought they should have been ranked No. 1 at the start of the year. We knew the challenge going in and I just wish we could have done better. Hoehne is a strong, big team. It just seemed like the game was over before it started.”

Kiowa quarterback Steven Mitzak played well in the second half, but with the running clock, the game was quickly played. Losing Joe Jantz to injury a few weeks back certainly didn’t help the Indians.

Jack Thomas moved to fullback and Lonny Trehal to halfback and the pair hung in there. Sadly, the depth just wasn’t in the Tribes favor.

Mitchell Bates scored the first touchdown on an 11-yard pass from Mitzak, then added the conversion on a pass from Mitzak to Isaac Janes.

Trehal scored the games final touchdown on a 30-yard run. Jantz then closed out his career at Kiowa scoring on the conversion run.

“The kids really played well this season and we just wish it could have ended on a better note,” Clemmons said. “Losing Joe didn’t help, but he was able to get in for a few plays. He was only about 80 precent and we missed his efforts overall.

“I don’t think we played a team this season that had the defense pursuit that Hoehne had,” Clemmons continued. “We shot ourselves in the foot in the first quarter, missing on a fourth and one, and again on a 4th and 3. One of those, if we scored, certainly would have helped us. Nine-2 is certainly a good season, but we still wish we could be playing. The boys played hard all season and they have nothing to feel ashamed about.”

Hoehne is the lone unbeaten team in the 8-man ranks, 11-0, and appear stronger as the season nears its finish. Vince Valdez rushed for 115-yards for the Farmers while Wyatt Schrepfer added 89 more for the winners. They will play Walsh (10-1) in this week’s semifinal.

FOWLER SCORES LATE COMEBACK TO DROP ELBERT

Elbert looked to be in a pretty good position as the previously unbeaten Bulldogs of coach Shawn Graves moved into the fourth quarter of their quarterfinal game against Fowler with a 20-8 lead. But the visiting Grizzlies (8-3) scored two touchdowns and added a safety to pull out a 26-20 victory.

Elbert led 6-0 after the first period as Bryce Hutchens scored on a 1-yard run. Fowler would go ahead for the first time in the second quarter as Dakota Parker scored on an 80-yard run and Cooper Wright would catch the conversion pass from quarterback Blaine Larson.

Yet the Fowler lead didn’t hold up as Elbert’s Hutchens scored his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run. Al Zelney tacked on two more points with his conversion run and the Bulldogs headed into halftime with 14-8 lead.

He would scored the Bulldogs final touchdown of the season in the third period on a 7-yard run, but again, the conversion run failed.

Fowler picked up a safety early in the fourth quarter to trail, 20-10. But the Grizzlies would score on a 15-yard run by Larson with the conversion added by Jeremy Burke.

They would then close out their scoring on a 13-yard run by Larry Hamilton and conversion pass by Larson from quarterback Cooper Wright.

Parker had a good day on the ground for Fowler rushing for 157-yards on 12 carries. Burke added 89 yards, also on 12 carries.