The St. Edmond football team might have found some answers here Friday night in the form of several unlikely players.
With a pair of two-way starters on the sidelines – including senior co-captain Logan Fear – the Gaels made a defensive stand to claim a 21-13 victory over rival Manson Northwest Webster inside Dodger Stadium.
Charlie Doyle, Will Woodruff, Jack Rasmussen and the rest of the St. Edmond (1-1 overall) defense forced an incompletion on fourth-down from Cougar quarterback Ben Wignall with just 19 seconds left in the contest.
“We found a way to win and that’s all that matters,” SEHS head coach Dick Tighe said. “It wasn’t pretty on the offensive side, but the defense and special teams were just huge. We had kids flying around to the ball and coming up with big play after big play when we needed it the most.
“I’ll take the blame for putting us in some bad situations that allowed (Manson NW) to get back in it, but the kids dug down deep and got the stop to win it.”
A week ago, the Gaels were dominated in the second half at Mason City Newman. After taking a 21-0 lead into the half vs. the Cougars (1-1), things started to look very similar to that contest.
“The first half was about field position and turnovers, and St. Edmond won that battle,” MNW head coach Jeff Anliker said. “In the second half, our kids adjusted and we really played good football. We just ran out of time in the end.
“But I was extremely pleased with the way our kids responded after halftime. They never quit and we can build on the positives we made (in the second half).”
Cade Naughton ran for 100 yards and scored a touchdown, while Fear added 55 yards and two scores before departing. The senior fullback and linebacker went to the hospital for X-rays for a possible broken collarbone.
Freshman Charlie Shelly also was taken out of the game with concussion-like symptoms. His status will be re-evaluated next week.
“Those really hurt us, obviously, but what great efforts by the kids to step up and get the win,” said Tighe, who earned his 111th career win at St. Edmond to pass Bill Kibby for the most in school history. “We don’t know the situation yet with Logan, but it didn’t look good. Hopefully we will have Charlie back soon as we are already short-handed out there.”
Fear made his impact on the defensive side of the ball first, scooping up a lateral and taking to the Cougar 4. Two plays later, Naughton hit paydirt for the first score. Fear then scored on a 36-yard jaunt on fourth-and-5, making it 14-0.
A second Fear TD, this time from 1-yard out, made it 21-0. Connor Allison converted all three of his extra-point attempts successfully on the night.
Like St. Edmond did in the first half, Manson NW took advantage of field position and miscues in the second. Keaton Wood and Reid Steinberg each scored touchdown runs, with Wood running for 83 yards and Steinberg 81. Two Cougar drives, though, stalled out on the SEHS side of the field when they were unable to convert.
“We made some mistakes when we just couldn’t afford to make them,” Anliker said. “The good thing about this game is that it wasn’t a district one. It’s tough because this was our rival from 17 miles away and the kids really wanted to win it, but we still have our goals in front of us.”
Fear and Peyton Spangler each recovered fumbles for the St. Edmond defense, while Naughton had a sack. Wignall, who passed for 58 yards, had an interception and Brandon Bower recovered a fumble.
Last year, Manson NW snapped a 13-game losing skid to the Gaels, while also ending their 18-game home win streak with a 12-6 triumph.
Next up is the Class A, District 2 opener for St. Edmond, as they travel to Marcus to meet MMCRU (0-2). Last year, the Royals captured the 8-man state title. The Cougars entertain South Hamilton (0-2) in their 1A, District 6 debut.