NORTH LIMA - Last year the South Range Raiders beat Warren JFK in dramatic fashion with a last second run to win by four at Warren's Mollenkopf Stadium. This year the Raiders wasted little time in setting the tone as they scored two early touchdowns behind the rushing of senior halfback Joe Alessi's 209 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-21 victory.
"Last year it was a shoot-out. This year we came in with the mindset that we can't have it that close. We really had to step it up," Alessi said.
"We have a great team. Our line blocked great. Our fullback Dave McCabe did a great job blocking up front, and they helped me get the yards we needed to win the game."
The Raiders took the opening kickoff of the game on a methodical 12-play, 70-yard drive, consuming 6:38 of the first quarter clock and ending with Alessi running in from 7 out. Alessi carried the ball nine times for 57 yards during the drive.
But the Raiders really took the momentum when the Eagles fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Raiders the ball again deep in Eagle territory. The Raiders' Payton Remish recovered the ball at the 27, and the Raiders took advantage of the miscue by scoring on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Raiders quarterback Ryan Miller to receiver Gregg Dunham. That score at the 5:05 mark gave the Raiders a 14-0 lead.
"That was huge," Raider coach Dan Yeagley said. "Now you're up two touchdowns."
"They jumped right on us offensively," Eagles coach Jeff Bayuk remarked. "They are a good football team."
But the Eagles showed their mettle by responding on their next possession when running back Dante Munno raced around left end to score on a 58-yard run to cut the Raiders lead down to 14-7. That score came with just 2:06 remaining in the quarter.
South Range answered though as Dunham returned the Raider kickoff 43 yards to the Eagles 40-yard line. Three plays later the Raiders fullback David McCabe would barrell into the end zone from 25-yards out to put the Raiders back up by 14 at 21-7 with 1:19 left in the first frame.
The Raiders really stretched their advantage early in the second quarter when they went on another impressive drive to score their fourth touchdown on the night. They traveled 80-yards on 8-plays with Alessi running in from 26-yards out.
The offense was firing on all cylinders," Raider coach Dan Yeagley said. "We executed very well and we were able to move the ball up and down the field and score.
The Eagles tried once more to answer the call as Jacob Coates returned the kickoff 93-yards for a touchdown and closed the deficit to 14-points at 28-14 with 8:29 remaining in the half.
But the Raiders essentially sealed the game away just two and half minutes before halftime when Alessi added his third touchdown of the night with a 1-yard plunge, giving the Raiders a 34-14 lead at the break.
"I really felt that we struggled defensively, but I don't know how many running backs we are going to see of that caliber this year," Bayuk commented on the Raider's Alessi.
The two teams exchanged touchdowns in the second half as Alessi added a score with 2:14 remaining in the third quarter to put the Raiders up 41-14. The Eagles quarterback Michael Roscoe added a 14-yard run with 11:24 left in the game to reach the final 41-21 score.
"We're still trying to find ourselves," Bayuk said of his Eagles team. "We're trying to figure out what we do best."
WARREN JFK 7-7-0-7-21
SOUTH RANGE 21-13-7-0-41
SR - Joe Alessi 7-yd run (Jonah Wilson kick)
SR - Gregg Dunham 27-yd pass from Ryan Miller (Wilson kick)
JFK - Dante Munno 58-yd run (Justin Bofenkamp kick)
SR - David McCabe 25-yd run (Wilson kick)
SR - Alessi 26-yd run (Wilson kick)
JFK - 93-yd kickoff return (Bofenkamp kick)
SR - Alessi 1-yd run (kick failed)
SR - Alessi 11-yd run (Wilson kick)
JFK - Michael Roscoe 14-yd run (Bofenkamp kick)
RUSHING-JFK, Royal Smith 6-22, Dante Munno 6-65, Michael Roscoe 10-67; SOUTH RANGE, Joe Alessi 30-209, David McCabe 5-54, Ryan Miller 7-35, JR Renforth 7-32
PASSING-JFK, Michael Roscoe 2-8-27-0; SOUTH RANGE, Ryan Miller 7-11-103-1
RECEIVING-JFK, Jacob Coates 1-15, Dante Munno 1-12; SOUTH RANGE, Greg Dunham 2-67, Nick Stanton 2-11, Zane Kreidler 2-13
FUMBLE RECOVERIES-JFK, Dimaje Clinkscale; SOUTH RANGE, Payton Remish, Ben Baird