Raiders remain unbeaten

KANSAS – The souvenir barker’s line says something about not being able to tell the players without a program.

As it was, a person could only tell half the players with one at Lakota Field here Friday night.

A miscommunication of some sort resulted in no Cardinal Stritch roster being provided for the non-league game against the Raiders.

There were occasions when Cardinal players might have felt just fine about their incognito status given their five turnovers and a minus-38-yard rushing total.

Three of those turnovers led to touchdowns and that was just enough of a cushion for the Raiders, who had to hold off a late Stritch charge in posting a 21-16 win.

Lakota stands 3-0 heading into the Midland Athletic League opener next week against Calvert. The last time the Raiders started 3-0 in football was the 2009 season. And the last time before that, no one seems to remember.

“This was tough,” Raider coach Dave Vodika said. “We played pretty pumped-up football the first two weeks but it’s tough to do that three weeks in-a-row. We played well enough to win. We got by and that’s a good thing.”

Both clubs were slow to start – their combined rushing effort in the first quarter was minus-4 yards with 12 rushing attempts resulting in zero or negative yardage.

The lone highlights were a couple pop-pass completions by Stritch’s Chris Blazevich to tight end Joe Sinay for 43 and 12 yards.

But they tried that play once too often.s Lakota freshman Dakota Bowling picked off a third try and raced 30 yards for a touchdown. Gabe Boose’s run for the extras gave the Raiders an 8-0 lead with four minutes left in the half.

Then, on the first snap of the next series, Blazevich fumbled and Jordan Smith recovered for the Raiders on the Stritch 29. A penalty covered half the distance and the Raider offense pounded for the rest with quarterback Colin Timmons slamming in from the 1 to make it 14-0 with 28 seconds left in the half.

“We knew coming in this would be sort of a building year where our kids had to learn how to win,” Cardinal coach Brian Wical said. “I think they are doing a great job of learning how to compete. Obviously, it was tough with the pick-6 and the turnover to give them a short field. Those probably cost us the game.”

An inadvertent whistle hurt early in the third period as well. James Dobson stripped the ball away from Lakota’s Jordan Jaso and was on his way for a touchdown. Instead, Stritch was given possession where the turnover occurred at the Raider 27 and the Cardinals eventually had to settle for a Jonny Grayczyk 25-yard field goal.

“That was tough because we could have had a touchdown and been down seven with a whole lot of football left to be played,” Wical said. “But stuff like that happens sometimes.”

Moments later, the margin was 14-10 after a fumble recovery set up Blazevich’s 18-yard TD pass to Grant Curavo with 3:22 left in the third period.

“Once the momentum swung their way, it was tough to get it back,” Vodika said. “It seemed like we were in hole for so long there in the third quarter and we couldn’t get out.”

But another Stritich turnover, this time when Julian Boose intercepted a Blazevich pass and advanced to the Cardinal 26, did the trick.

Two plays later, Jaso shot up the middle for a 26-yard score with 8:54 to go. It turned out to be the clincher.

Still, the Cardinals had another surge in them as Blazevich hit Sinay for 48 yards and then tossed a 24-yard TD pass to Curavo to draw within 21-16 with 6:30 to play.

Each team had two possessions from there. Stritch’s final try started from its 23 with 1:16 to play.

Sinay, moved to quarterback because of arm strength, hit one pass for a first down. But on fourth-and-3 from the Raider 44, Jack Raymond dropped him for 24-yard loss as time expired.

“We played pretty good defense except for a couple of moments,” Vodika said. “Our players aren’t all that happy about this and I’m glad. That shows we’re not satisfied.

“But we got what we wanted,” he said. “We’re 3-0 in the non-league part and we got this third win against a pretty good team.”

Individual names, it turns out, really didn’t matter.