Raiders rout Trojans

By: Aaron Pyle

            In the most recent contest for Girard, Oct. 17, the Trojans (3-4) captured a 48-7 victory over the Iola Mustangs (2-4). Sophomore Luke Niggemann and junior Ethan Merrell combined for four of the Trojans’ touchdowns during Saturday’s victory.

            Following the win, the Trojans traveled to Frontenac to face the Raiders (3-4) in a league/district battle. Frontenac came into the matchup off a 28-22 loss to Prairie View Friday, Oct. 16. Last season in the meeting between Girard and Frontenac, the Raiders were able to shutout the Trojans 34-0 which knocked Girard out of the playoffs.

            Opening the game, the Trojans came out firing on all cylinders as the running game powered down the field. A 51-yard run from senior Connor Olivera would set up the Trojans in the red-zone. Frontenac’s defense remained poised despite the strong start from Girard as the Raiders forced the Trojans to a turnover on downs at the nine-yard-line.

            For much of the first quarter, the two sides exchanged possessions as neither team was able to find a rhythm offensively. Going into the second quarter, the score was tied at 0-0.

            Continuing to exchange possessions in the second quarter, the matchup became a defensive battle as the cold weather played into effect for both sides. Coach Neal Philpot continually switched the quarterback position throughout the first half going from senior Caden Lallemand to Niggemann.

            In the final minute of the first half, the Raiders recovered an interception putting Frontenac into Trojan territory at the 31. Girard would force the Raiders to 4th down and 11 from the 32 as Frontenac responded throwing on a post route that set up the Raiders at the one-yard-line. From there, the Raiders would score on a quarterback keeper to put up the first points of the game with 30 seconds remaining in the first half. Frontenac converted the two points as they led 8-0 at halftime.

            To begin the second half, the two sides exchanged possessions once again. Turnovers halted the Trojans’ efforts to tie the game back up as the Raiders continued to force fumbles. The Raiders soon executed off the Trojans’ mistakes with Frontenac scoring from 25-yards off a 4th and 9 pass to the corner of the endzone. Unable to make the two-point conversion, the Raiders led 14-0 with 5:45 remaining in the third quarter.

            The Trojans were unable to get production offensively as the frontline of the Raiders’ defense clogged the running lanes for Girard. Once again capitalizing off the Trojans turnovers and mistakes, the Raiders added to the lead scoring off an interception for 25-yards. Frontenac was once again unable to make the two-point conversion as they led Girard 20-0 with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.

            Opening the fourth quarter, the Trojans’ offense found a spark with Niggemann as the sophomore connected with senior Logan Thomas to put Girard in the red-zone. The connection then set up Ethan Merrell to power the ball up the middle for a 20-yard touchdown. Sophomore Garrett Humble missed the extra-point attempt as Frontenac led 20-6 with 11 minutes remaining.

            The Raiders then milked the clock, continually running the ball until the Trojans would force a turnover on downs after Frontenac marched down to the 15-yard-line. On the Trojans offensive drive following the turnover, the Raiders were able to force a fumble which gave Frontenac the ball back at the Trojans’ 11-yard-line. The turnover set up the Raiders for a one-yard touchdown which ultimately sealed the contest.

            Frontenac (4-4) went on to prevail 26-6 over the Trojans (3-5).

            As the loss closed the regular season, the Trojans move onto the 3A District Playoffs which will take place Friday, Oct. 30 with the opponent TBA.