By Theodore Tollefson The Hastings Raiders football team had a taste of what could lie in the future for some of their players on the afternoon of Saturday, October 9 as they played on the road …
By Theodore Tollefson
The Hastings Raiders football team had a taste of what could lie in the future for some of their players on the afternoon of Saturday, October 9 as they played on the road against the newly dubbed Two Rivers Warriors, formerly Henry Sibley.
Like last week, the Raiders were the first to get on the scoreboard four minutes into the first quarter. The Raiders were inches away from the Warriors endzone and with a large push from the offensive line, quarterback Axel Arnold was able to score a touchdown to put the Raiders up 6-0. Rhys Fillion came in after to get the extra point for the Raiders making the game 7-0.
The Raiders defense kept the Warriors at bay throughout the first quarter with top performances defensively from John Chorlton, Tom Kennedy and Aidan Sorenson. With four minutes remaining in the first quarter, the offense was lined up for Arnold to complete a pass to one of the wide receivers. Arnold completed a 13 yard pass to Stephen Reifenberger for another Raiders touchdown, making it 14-0 Raiders over the Warriors going into the second quarter.
The second quarter is where the Raiders offense showed off their dominance and kept the Warriors at bay. Although, the Warriors began the second quarter by recovering a blocked punt to score a safety against the Raiders. The Raiders recovered quickly from the safety and went on their offensive run.
At the six minute, 47 second mark, Arnold found junior wide receiver Rico Cooper open for a short seven yard pass that Cooper was able to complete for another Raiders touchdown. Fillion came in for a quick extra point to make the game 21-2.
Following that touchdown for the Raiders, they were back on another offensive run that was completed for another touchdown by senior running back Brenden Freiermuth who made a five yard run to make the game 28-2.
With a minute and a half left to go in the second quarter, the Raiders topped off their dominance in the first half of the game with another touchdown. This one was completed from a 34 yard pass from Arnold to junior wide receiver Johnny Bezdicek to make the score 35-2, Raiders going into halftime.
Coming back from half time, the Raiders were back at it a minute and a half into the third quarter. This time Bezdicek went for a 34 yard run with a hand off from Arnold to complete yet another touchdown for the Raiders. The score was now 42-2 after Fillion completed another extra point.
With the score being a 40 point difference, the Raiders had history in the making following Bezdicek’s touchdown as junior kicker Samantha Williams became the first ever female athlete to play in a varsity football game for Hastings High School. Williams had started the clock again with her first ever kick return to the Warriors. The Warriors got their first touchdown of the afternoon a minute after Bezdicek’s making the game 42-9.
The remainder of the third quarter was scoreless for both teams and the Raiders starters were able to get some time off from the game as second string players got playing time they had earned.
The fourth quarter, the Warriors were able to recover from their offensive woes that the Raiders plagued them with for the majority of the game. The Warriors completed three touchdowns all within three minutes of game time, bringing the score closer at 42-31 with six minutes and 48 seconds remaining in the game.
Fortunately for the Raiders defense were able to hold off the Warriors for the remainder of the game, and the final score ended at 42-31 with another Raiders victory. The road victory brought the Raiders overall record to 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in conference play. After the game, Bezdicek spoke on the performance of his team and his own for the afternoon. “I think I was playing pretty good for some reason, I was a little nervous in the beginning which I don’t necessarily know why but once we started piling more touchdowns on, it definitely got a little bit easier. Our team did really well in the first half especially since we were up about 32 points in the first half. We all got to get to the ball, whether it’s tackled or not, just to make sure someone bounces out, we go get it. And I think that’s a big thing, we got to work well together as a team today,” said Bezdicek.
Raiders running back Freiermuth talked about balancing out the momentum of play the team has in the first and second halves of their games moving forward, “I think that we just need to keep on pushing the pace, a little practice. We can’t let off the gas when we are winning the first half big time. You saw last week and I was seeing again this week. It’s something we need to fix, but we were definitely the more physical team today. We’re pushing piles forward,” said Freiermuth.
Head coach Dana Strain spoke on the dominance of the Raiders first half from the game and how the team will practice keeping the gas on the pedal for the second half of games moving forward.
“We played phenomenally well in the first half and then when we came out in the second half, we put a scoring up right away which is the number one thing we wanted to do after that we played a ton of guys and we just kept rolling to let those guys get some opportunity and and and that’s how you learn you know. So it’s a great learning opportunity for us at a lot of different positions and in all phases. I’m also proud of our kids coming back then and finishing it when we had to come back to them. They put together about a six or seven minute drive there which is outstanding at the end,” said Strain.
Strain continued, “There are some things in our protections that we got to clean up and we’ll do that. We give up a lot of pump air so we gotta make sure that we shored that up and again that’ll be a learning opportunity for us. We just got to build on what we did. We scored six touchdowns in about the first seven or eight possessions that we had. That’s the best offensive day we’ve had all season. We got to build on that and defense was flying around like normal and we just got to keep building on our success.”
For stats in the Raiders game against the Two Rivers Warriors, the Raiders totaled 18 first downs while the Warriors had 13. Freiermuth led the Raiders in rushing yards for the game totaling 144 on 23 carries. Second in rushing yards for the Raiders was Bezdicek with 35 yards on two carries and behind him was Arnold with 29 yards on seven carries.
In his passing game, Arnold completed eight passes on nine attempts that totaled for 134 yards in the game. Junior quarterback Danny Millner also had playing time in Saturday’s game completing one pass on three attempts with one interception, totaling 15 yards.
Raiders kicker Rhys Fillion had another perfect game against the Warriors as he completed all six extra point attempts.
The Raiders will play their next game tonight against the Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars on the road. The Raiders had played against the Jaguars in a pre-season scrimmage on August 28. The Jaguars currently have a 1-5 record on the season and lost their previous game on Friday, October 8 to the South St. Paul Packers 20-14. The Raiders game against the Jaguars will start at 7:00 p.m. tonight.