No. 9 RIDGE SPRING-MONETTA 30, No. 10 DENMARK-OLAR 20
MONETTA — There was already plenty to think about Friday night for Ridge Spring-Monetta head football coach Brian Smith.
His ninth-ranked Trojans were playing another key region game in the 3-A gauntlet, this time against No. 10 Denmark-Olar, with a chance to set up some even bigger matchups in the coming weeks.
That alone is a lot, even before considering that Friday night was RS-M's home debut in its brand-new stadium, with all of the details to cover that weren't there during five straight road games to start the season.
Then, before kickoff, he got something else to think about – a quip from one of his assistant coaches that would sound like the kiss of death to anyone even remotely superstitious.
"You know, we've never lost at home in this stadium," he heard.
"Thanks a lot," he thought.
Well, they still haven't.
It didn't look that way early, especially after Denmark-Olar took a 12-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Trojans got back to basics and out-played the Vikings from there in a 30-20 win to remain undefeated in region play – and yes, remain undefeated in their new home.
"They're a tough team," Smith said. "We kind of struggled early, which unfortunately has been our M.O. a little bit. But I felt like our kids kept fighting, fighting, fighting. [Vikings head coach Greg Wright] has done a heck of a job. Our kids just started making some plays."
The Trojans (4-2, 3-0 Region 3-A) overcame plenty of self-inflicted early difficulties – turnovers on downs, a fumble on a trick play and an interception – that were compounded by the running of Denmark-Olar quarterback Malik Palmer. He had 103 yards and two touchdowns on his first six carries, and the Vikings led 12-0 with 5:20 left in the first quarter.
RS-M didn't give up much after that, though. Palmer ended the game with 123 yards on 18 carries, and the Vikings had 197 yards of total offense. Defensive end Tray Dean led the defensive charge, punishing any ball carrier who got within arm's reach.
Remedee Leaphart's 11-yard touchdown pass to DB Harris got the Trojans on the board late in the second quarter, and then they took the lead on Leaphart's 33-yard scoring run less than 3 minutes later. That was good for a 14-12 advantage, and the message from the Trojans' coaches was to win the second half, and they'd win the game.
Denmark-Olar surged back ahead, 20-14, on a short touchdown run with 3:26 left in the third quarter, but RS-M had an answer again. Leaphart added his second touchdown run of the night, this one from 15 yards out, with 30 seconds left in the quarter for a 22-20 lead.
The defense got another stop, setting up the scoring drive that put the game away. Collier Sullivan scored from the 1 with 2:29 to play for a 30-20 lead, then he intercepted Palmer with under a minute to go to seal the win.
Leaphart completed 12 of 18 passes for 137 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and he rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Sullivan had 96 yards and a score on 22 carries, and Harris caught nine passes for 90 yards and a score.
The homecoming was a short one for RS-M. The Trojans are back on the road next week at No. 7 Blackville-Hilda.