The emotions started to pour out as Matt Dillon gathered his seniors one final time inside Dodger Stadium.
Following a regular season that featured five wins and numerous new school records set, St. Edmond was left with complete heartbreak following a 41-38 loss to Madrid here Friday night in the Class A playoffs.
The Tigers (3-3 overall) advance to face defending state champion West Hancock next week in Britt. The Eagles (7-1) topped Manson Northwest Webster last night, 54-8.
Madrid’s Brady Leonard accounted for two fourth quarter touchdowns to help his team erase a 38-28 deficit. Leonard finished with 109 yards passing, 99 yards rushing and three total TDs.
“We talked about the finality that the playoffs bring,” Dillon said. “You never want it to end and you do everything you can to keep that from happening. These seniors have done so much over the past three years to get this program back to where we want it.
“I just can’t say enough about them. It’s been a pure joy coaching them and this team.”
Dillon, who embraced the seniors one by one, added “the best thing about each one of them is how great they are going to be as college students, workers, husbands, fathers; they are all just incredible, incredible people and that’s what I am most proud of.”
One of those seniors, Drew Schaeffer, re-wrote the school record books for passing. Schaeffer finished 13-for-31 for 321 yards and three touchdowns. His 321 yards are the second-most by a Gael, behind only the 342-yard performance he had earlier this year.
Schaeffer hit Parker Oswald on two touchdowns covering 31 and 52 yards, and Anthony Lacina on a 73-yard strike in the third. Oswald, who broke the single-season record for receiving yards held by Dave Conell, finished with six receptions for 152 yards and added a fumble recovery on defense.
Lacina had two catches for 85 yards and an interception, Tyler Rossmanith ran for 62 yards and Kase Baker scored a touchdown with a pick.
“We just couldn’t really get in a groove,” Dillon said. “Madrid had a nice game plan and they executed it well. They had some breaks go their way and we didn’t. That’s kind of the difference in the outcome.”
The Tigers answered two SEHS touchdowns by returning the ensuing kickoff. Both times, it was junior Matt Fuller, as he also broke free for the first score of the game.
Conner Williams ran for 130 yards and Fuller added 64 as part of a 50-carry, 293-yard group effort on the ground for Madrid, which also forced four turnovers and had a sack.
Both teams combined for 35 points in a wild second quarter that saw things end at 28-all. In the third, Lacina caught his touchdown pass from Schaeffer and Thornton Aljets kicked through a 28-yard field goal to put St. Edmond ahead, 38-28.
Leonard cut the lead to three when he slipped through the defense from 31 yards out with just over 10 minutes to go. The junior accounted for the game-winning points on an 11-yard run with 38 seconds remaining.
This marked the final time in a Gael uniform for seniors Oswald, Lacina, Schaeffer, Aljets, Baker, Sean Flattery, Brock Stanek, Andrew Elbert, Peyton Scott, Nathan Russell and Ryan McGonegle.
“For many of these kids, that’s it as far as football goes,” Dillon said. “It’s tough and it hurts right now, but they’ll get over it because they are all going to do great, great things in the future.”
First Downs 15 19
Rushes-Yards 20-80 50-293
Passing 293 109
Comp-Att-Int 13-31-2 7-14-2
Total Offense 373 402
Punts-Avg. 4-37.3 2-27.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 6-2
Penalties-Yards 7-75 7-65
St. Edmond 7 21 10 0– 38
Madrid 14 14 0 13–41
Madrid — Matt Fuller (27-yard run), 5:48 left in first. Kyzer Springer kick.
St. Edmond — Parker Oswald (31-yard pass from Drew Schaeffer), 1:35 left in first. Thornton Aljets.
Madrid — Fuller (80-yard kickoff return), 1:25 left in first. Springer kick.
St. Edmond — Kase Baker (3-yard run), 10:26 left in second. Kick failed.
Madrid — Fuller (75-yard kickoff return), 10:14 left in second. Springer kick.
St. Edmond — Oswald (52-yard pass from Schaeffer), 4:54 left in second. Baker run.
Madrid — Cayden Fuson (10-yard pass from Brady Leonard), 2:46 left in second. Springer kick.
St. Edmond — Tyler Rossmanith (1-yard run), :36 left in second. Aljets kick.
St. Edmond — Anthony Lacina (73-yard pass from Schaeffer), 4:07 left in third. Aljets kick.
St. Edmond — Aljets (28-yard field goal), :00 left in third.
Madrid — Leonard (31-yard run), 10:03 left in fourth. Springer kick.
Madrid — Leonard (11-yard run), :38 left in fourth. Kick failed.
Rushing — St. Edmond: Tyler Rossmanith 11-62, Sean Flattery 1-15, Kase Baker 5-13, Drew Schaeffer 3-(minus-10). Madrid: Conner Williams 18-130, Brady Leonard 22-99, Matt Fuller 10-64.
Passing — St. Edmond: Drew Schaeffer 13-31-2-321. Madrid: Brady Leonard 7-14-2-109.
Receiving — St. Edmond: Parker Oswald 6-152, Anthony Lacina 2-85, Quinten McCarville 2-39, Sean Flattery 2-21, Tyler Rossmanith 1-12, Kase Baker 1-12. Madrid: Cayden Fuson 6-93, Gabe Peterson 1-16.