Back-to-back losses to out of state schools like Cathedral Prep and Archbishop Hoban left the St. Francis Red Raiders in a foul mood.
So when the Red Raiders took on another school from outside of New York State – this time the Erie Royals from Erie, Pennsylvania – they knew they couldn’t afford to drop a third straight outing. Which they were able to avoid by emerging from Saturday’s matchup with a 28-0 shutout win.
“Erie was definitely a quality opponent, and they’ve improved tremendously over the course of the year,” coach Jerry Smith said. “They played hard today and their coach (Andre Henderson) is doing a great job for them. But we got a little bit of momentum today and kept them from getting it. That was huge.”
After a feeling-out process through the game’s first few minutes, St. Francis got on the board after a screen pass from quarterback Steve Otremba to running back Kimal Clark went 40 yards to paydirt. That score held for the rest of the first half and most of the third quarter after the Red Raiders’ defense – which was missing standout defensive end Jimmy Scott, who didn’t dress due to injury – held the Royals’ offense in check, and never allowed them to reach the red zone.
“I thought our defense was pretty good today,” Smith said. “We’ve been performing pretty well on that side of the ball lately, even with Jimmy out. We gave them a couple of opportunities with a couple of penalties, but thankfully we were able to overcome those by playing hard and not giving them any room to breathe.”
The afternoon tilt held up in that fashion until Ricardo Kidd plunged into the end zone from three yards out, and the rout was on. Terrence Pendergrass cashed in on a 22-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and Kidd got on the scoreboard again after an 89-yard run was created by exploiting a hole in the Royals’ defense, sealing the win for St. Francis.
A fourth consecutive opponent from outside of New York State awaits the Red Raiders in St. Francis DeSales of Ohio and Smith expects his team’s upcoming meeting with them to be a spirited affair.
“They’re pretty good,” Smith said. “They just beat a team in Steubenville (OH) 36-21 and beating that particular school is a very rare feat to do. It’s going to be an interesting matchup and hopefully we can rise to the challenge.”