Westminster Christian no pushover in first varsity game
Westminster Christian was clearly not taking baby steps offensively at the end of its historic first varsity football game Saturday afternoon on Chicago's Northwest side.
The Warriors showed how quickly they could get their attack running as they scored 20 points in the final 7:22 and finished with 371 total yards of offense in a 44-26 Northeastern Athletic Conference loss to Luther North.
"That's about what I expected and that's good for us," said Westminster senior running back DeShawn Bloom, who had touchdown runs of 65 and 34 yards en route to 134 yards on 14 carries and caught 5 passes for 68 yards. "I feel like we have a lot in store for some teams that they won't see coming."
Senior William Rathjen put himself in the program history books when he scored the first touchdown on a 2-yard pass from junior Max Tucker (16-for-36, 210 yards, 2 interceptions) on the final play of the first half to get Westminster within 22-6.
"Getting the first touchdown in the varsity history for Westminster, it was going through my head how crazy that is," said Rathjen, who also had a deflection he nearly turned into a diving interception. "Then the ball keeps rolling from there."
Luther North, which has 14 starters back from a team that made the playoffs for the first time since 1989, got its wing-T going right off the opening kickoff with a 15-play, 75-yard drive that ate up 7:50.
All but 9 of the Wildcats' 416 yards of offense came on the ground as junior all-NAC running back Felix Loja rushed for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns on 15 carries. But Westminster didn't back down after falling behind 44-6 with 11:10 left.
"I felt their technique is much improved and they played hard," said third-year Luther North coach Ricky Ludwig. "You can see they have the weapons but now they need the reps. I think this year they'll be able to win a couple of games for sure."
Bloom busted his two long runs despite injuries that sidelined two starting offensive linemen and forced freshman outside linebacker Xavier Brown, who had 5 tackles for losses, into also playing left tackle.
"He's a stud," said Westminster coach John Davis.
Isaac Hawn, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound freshman lineman, also had 2 stops for losses. And Westminster put the exclamation point on an exciting day when freshman Scotty Graziano (4 catches, 98 yards) caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Tucker on the game's final play.
"In the first game of the history of the varsity, to throw up 26 points against a state playoff team, that's huge," Davis said.
"I thought we competed really well and hit really hard," Rathjen said. "We had a lot of spirit in us and the next game (next Saturday's home opener against Mooseheart) and come out even more pumped."