St. Thomas Academy and East Ridge collided for the Class 5A, Section 5 football title with two contrasting histories and lineups Friday night.
East Ridge, which opened in 2009, has never been to the state tournament and carries a young lineup, including a talented freshman quarterback. The older, more experienced Cadets own conference titles back to 1966 and have been to the state tournament 20 times.
Make it 21.
The Cadets rolled over the Raptors 41-14, but the two teams could have started a rivalry for years to come.
"They're young and we have a lot of kids that have been in this game before. I think that makes a big difference," Cadets coach Dave Ziebarth said. "They're very young, but I have a feeling they'll be back in this game next year."
This one couldn't have started any better for the Cadets, who first forced the Raptors to go three-and-out and promptly punched in a touchdown. An East Ridge fumble enabled St. Thomas Academy quarterback Keegan Zimprich to find Jalen Patterson in the end zone on a 5-yard slant. Danny McManus tacked on a 15-yard rushing touchdown, and a two-point conversion made it 22-0 early in the second quarter.
"We had a good feeling before the game," Ziebarth said. "I really liked the first quarter. Didn't like the second quarter so much."
That second quarter shone light on Raptors freshman quarterback Seth Green, who connected with Xavier Cole on touchdown passes of 55 and 61 yards to get East Ridge back into the game, trailing 22-14 at the half. But the offense couldn't muster much more than that. Standout running back Nick Leach saw limited snaps after suffering an ankle injury in last week's game.
Nick Waldvogel and McManus added rushing touchdowns in the second half as the Cadets regained steam to finish the job.