Bobcats Win One For Ryley, Advance To State Quarterfinals (11/20/17)
The Clarion Area Bobcats traveled to Windber on Friday (November 17th) to face District 5 champion Chestnut Ridge in a PIAA State Football Tournament opening round game and came away with a hard fought 20-14 victory, to move on to the the quarterfinals. The Bobcats will face the Wilmington Greyhounds on Saturday (November 24th) at 1:00PM at Memorial Stadium, in the PIAA State quarterfinals.
The Lions scored two first half touchdowns. The first came on a twenty-nine yard scoring strike from Logan Hauck to Levi Snyder, at 4:48 of the first quarter. Ian Anderson kicked the PAT and Chestnut Ridge led 7-0. The Lions’ second score came with 1:09 left in the half on an eight yard run by Noah Dillow, with Anderson adding the kick, for a 14-0 lead going to halftime.
The Bobcats mounted little offense in the first half and had to kick to the Lions to open the second half.
Spencer Miller ended the Lions’ opening possession of the second half, by intercepting a pass and returning it thirty yards to the seven yard line. Colton Rapp, who had 19 carries for 95 yards, ran it in for the seven yard score , going through a nice hole on the left side of the line and with Archer Mills kick, the Bobcats cut the deficit in half, trailing just 14-7. with 8:31 left in the third.
Thomas Wurster forced a fumble and Sterling Conner recovered it deep in Clarion territory ending Chestnut Ridge’s next possession.
Clarion drove down to the Lions’ one yard line, but on one of the finest goal line stands you would ever see, Chestnut Ridge held on four downs. The Cats could have folded but we have to remember, this is Clarion.
After forcing a punt, the Bobcats took over fairly deep in their own territory, Later a hook and ladder play from Miller to Weaver, to Minich moved the ball to the Chestnut Ridge two. With a penalty, the ball was at the one and Rapp ran it in from there; with the kick the score was knotted at 14-all at 6:31 of the fourth.
Rapp scored the game winner, on a four yard run with just 1:06 left in the contest. The kick was blocked and the Cats led 20-14. The line did a great job during the comeback, dominating the line of scrimmage and the defense was its usual stellar self.
Miller was 12 of 16 for 170 yards passing, and carried the ball 4 times for 34 yards. Miller also had 13 tackles on defense. Zak Bauer had 12 tackles, 3 of them for loss.
It wasn’t until after the game, that I found out the reason for the great turn around, seeing the Cats go from being down 14-0, to coming back with three touchdowns, while holding the Lions scoreless in the second half. While interviewing Bobcat quarterback/defensive back Miller, the reason for the great turn around. Miller said that it was all because of a speech that Colton Rapp gave at halftime.
An impassioned Rapp left the team know in no uncertain terms that they needed to step it up and that they needed to play for an injured teammate, senior Ryley McMaster, who hasn’t gotten to play all year, due to a knee injury. As you read the Cat Quotes, below, you will see how this rallying cry was just the motivation that the Bobcats would need in the second half. You will also get a sense of the great love, admiration and sense of brotherhood that this team has for each other. I hope as you read the quotes, you sense the emotion that was going on as the players related the halftime speech to me. I was choking back tears and so were some of the players.
Spencer Miller: For me the biggest motivation, at halftime Colton came out. He was like, ‘Okay guys, I don’t care if you want to win this game. But play because of Ryley (who tore his knee). He hasn’t been able to strap up all year.’ That really got to me. I was like, ‘All right, we got to win this.’ So that’s why we came out hard. We really did it for Ryley.
As the season went along, we really came together. We’re like we love each other. We get along. We fight sometimes, but it’s all in fun. We try to pump each other up by picking on each other. It’s really like we’re almost brothers. It’s great.
(About Chestnut Ridge) They were tough. They were fast. They were big. They were physical. They hit hard. Props to them; they were good.
Credit to our line in the second half. They came out and blew them off the ball. We were running all over them. They did a great job in the second half.
Colton Rapp: (On halftime speech) (It was) pretty simple. I told those guys, ‘I know we’re all beat up. I know we’re battered right now. We’re down on ourselves. But one thing you’ve got to think about, is one of our guys, one of our best friends, hasn’t been able to play a down his senior year by something he can’t control.’
I was tearing up during the speech. It took everything for me to hold back. Ryley’s my best friend. I love that dude. And it sucks that he’s not out there with me. I (asked) them, ‘How can you sit there with two good legs, two good arms in an able body and tell me you are going to quit, because these guys (Chestnut Ridge) are tough. You have everything you need to get it done tonight. So we need to go out and get it done. I don’t care if you want to win the game or not, but you owe it to him to give it a hundred percent.
I think it clicked with those guys. It was like we knew. We were going to get it done.
(On the second half surge) Obviously, a lot of emotions running high. You know what, we are tough. We were here for a reason. It was a huge half. It was one of the craziest halves of football I’ve ever played, but it was the most fun. I will say that. It was the most fun. They turned it on! They flipped a switch! It was sweet. It was really sweet. Everyone had a good night tonight.
Nick Cherico: That beginning half was just a big confidence thing. Halftime we came out. Colton’s right. You play for the man beside you. Coach Quinn told us that in junior high and it carries the whole way. The man beside you, that’s who you are playing for. Everything else is just (pushed) out of your mind.
The second half, we came around, we turned around. It was all in the mindset, that we can come back and win this game.
I give (Chestnut Ridge) credit. They came out. You saw the first half. They were there to play; they were there to win. They got us a couple of times, when we were on defense and we had to come back. They are a heck of a team, Chestnut Ridge.
Colton Rapp: Unbelievable athlete, #4, at quarterback (Hauck). He makes things happen. But I just think we had the bigger hearts tonight. That’s what it came down to. We had more heart. We wanted it more.
Nick Cherico: (Later asked me to add something important to his quotes) On this game: We owe this to our scout team. Our scout team is the reason we got this far. They help us out in practice. They push hard. All those guys you see on the sidelines, they’re important. They helped us out all year. We owe them for this game.
Ryley McMaster: Colton Rapp just gave a speech, to us at halftime, about how the first half we were playing kind of slow and he didn’t know if some guys didn’t want to be out there or not. So he just told them, like, ‘This kid Ryley hasn’t touched the field all year. It’s his senior year, hasn’t got to play a single down. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, go out there and do it for somebody that wants it really bad. He’d do anything to have the opportunity that you have right now. So just go out there and do it for him.’
Coach Larry Wiser: We nickled here, digged there, did something there. How did you like that little hook and ladder, that led our second touchdown. We kept getting caught on the one or two yard line.
Big win. I’m just proud of our kids. There are probably a lot of teams that would have went in at halftime down 14-0 and came out and say, “Hey it’s cold. Time to end. Time to move on.” But that wasn’t this crew. They’re all heart. I call them heart and soul, heart and soul. That’s the one thing as a football coach, when you see kids perform at that level, it tickles your innards big time.
I’m very proud of them, very proud of them. They worked hard all year. Whatever would have happened here tonight, wouldn’t have changed my mind about this team. I’ll say,(my esteem of them) may have inched up a little bit more. I didn’t think they could go much higher with me, but tonight was pretty special.
The staff I’ve got, Scott (Miller) and Lee (Weber) have been doing a great job defensively. And Nate (McClaine) and I just kind of pick whatever we can get going offensively. We still scored twenty points against a pretty good defensive team. But we shut down a pretty good offensive team. Their quarterback, other than one big run there, we kept him in check. I don’t know how many sacks we had. But interceptions were key. Defensively, from all the films I watched, I don’t know anybody that played them that well. I don’t want to take away from Tyrone and all the other teams that have played them, but our kids just did a special job against them, tonight.
Offensively, we did what we had to do to win the game.
Coach Scott Miller: It was exciting, obviously to everyone, I think, that watched it. A big shout out goes to the kids for not panicking. That was a big thing, as things weren’t going the way we wanted them to go from the beginning, for pretty much the first half. No one got down, no one panicked. It was pretty much on an even keel. It was a great thing to witness. It just shows the confidence everyone has in each other and what we’re doing.
Coach Lee Weber: Very proud of our players! They believe in each other. Our offense could have easily folded after being shut down in the first half but decided collectively to give just a little more effort. We drove on them all second half. The defense totally shut down their offensive weapons, their quarterback and running back! We gave up less than 80 yards in the second half! What a mentally tough team!
Last week (Kane) was a nice win for the team but winnin g the way we did this week was one of the most enjoyable as a coach. Very proud of the way they responded after halftime!
(Thanks to Bri Nellis for the action photo. KEEP IT GOING CATS!!!!)