Fieldcrest ousts St. Edward in 2nd round of 2A playoffs
Only two other football teams were able to provide a challenge to the No. 1 Class 2A high school team in the state, the unbeaten Fieldcrest Knights, over 11 games this season.
Count St. Edward among them.
However, the Green Wave trailed the entire contest Saturday in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs after spotting a 14-0 first half lead to the Knights. But St. Edward hung close near and in the red zone, just unable to punch in a score, bowing out of the playoffs with a 35-14 loss.
"St. Edward didn't quit; they played hard all game," Fieldcrest Coach Derek Schneeman told his team postgame.
He mentioned the Green Wave among their toughest battles, the others wins coming over two-time defending state champions Gibson City and Class 3A Eureka. In fact, St. Edward stamped its distinction of scoring twice, just the second team all season to post that against the Knights.
"I never really felt like we were out of the game," said St. Edward coach Mike Rolando. "We fought to the end."
Twice St. Edward could see the end zone, each time on a fourth down, the ball from quarterback Anthony Holte just out of reach of his receivers. After the game Rolando second-guessed his decision of passing instead of punting or running.
"That was a key." said Schneeman about pressuring Holte. "We knew he was a pretty accurate passer when he has time. We wanted to move him off his spot and screw up his timing."
After a scoreless 16 minutes, Fieldcrest consumed 16 plays and 81 yards to score first, after an interception. Combining sweeps and up the middle running plays, mainly from big back Kenton Castrejon, the way was paved by an entire offensive line averaging 275 pounds.
Time couldn't evaporate fast enough for the Green Wave. With 25.2 seconds left before halftime, Castrejon scored his second touchdown set up by a 22-yard one-handed diving pass grab by Jaxon Cusac-McKay.
For the entire second half, St. Edward two-way players Zeke Rolando and Anthony Kirkwood watched from the bench, an ankle and knee, respectively, layered with ice, each having to be helped off the field after big Knights hits. Since the season's start, the Green
Wave had prided itself that all 22 players on the team remained healthy.
"It probably took a little bit of the heart out of our kids, seeing a couple of their leaders going down," said coach Rolando. "We had to adjust a little and put kids in positions they hadn't played or played often. (Ralph) Scumacci, Blake Blusto, Kevin Pomeroy stepped up and played hard."
Opening the third quarter, the Green Wave's Alex Walser trapped Fieldcrest QB Cory Land all alone by one arm. Land slipped out of Walser's grasp to complete a 26-yard pass. Three plays later, the Knights took a 21-0 lead.
"We wanted to establish our running game," said Schneeman. "We felt like we had the advantage up front."
Joe Sacco followed a Luke Brier downfield block, dodged through holes, and cut back for 50-yard run for the Green Wave's first touchdown at the 8:21 third quarter mark.
However, on the first play following the kickoff, Fieldcrest's Tisen Covington separated from the line and secondary, racing 58 yards to score for a 28-6 lead.
St. Edward's rallies fell short, the offense stalling at the 17- and 4-yard lines from possible touchdowns before Holte completed a 29-yard pass to Liam Pomeroy in the end zone, cutting the lead to 28-14.
Time ran out as Fieldcrest's run game chewed up the clock.
"This stings," said Rolando, whose undefeated conference champions ended 7-4. "We were a couple of inches away from sacks that turned into touchdowns for Fieldcrest."
"We tried our hardest and did everything we could," said Sacco. "They were bigger up front and just kept pounding and pounding."