Burros Went for Two
A theme for championship day was teams playing their last games on their level. Thompson, New Salem - Glen Ullin, Hillsboro - Central Valley, Shanley, word is that they're all moving up from their current levels in 2019. That means a lot of things, to many of the schools on all the levels of high school play but I'm most interested to see how they immediately stack up against their new foes.
But before all that, there was the little matter of getting to raise the trophy as the #1 teams in the land. First on the docket was Hillsboro - Central Valley against Langdon/Edmore/Munich for the Class A title.
Playing a couple ticks past 9, I wasn't at all surprised that the teams came out a little sluggish. A turnover on downs on HCV's first possession was followed short by a punt from LEM. The Burros simplified their strategy when they go the ball back.
If my notes are right, and I think they are, they went with 12 straight running plays, 75% of them going as handoffs to their great running back, Oscar Benson. He did a lot of the work to get his team over the 66 yards but as the ball sat inside the 1 yard line, it was Micah Gallagher that got the first score. Secondary to the points was that the drive ate most of the first quarter, just not enough of it.
When the Cardinals got the ball back, it took all of three plays for them to respond. Simon Romfo dropped a dime to Sean Gette, and Gette did the rest for a 47 yard catch & run score. LEM kepted in the quarterback's hands for the extra point and Romfo showed that it was the right call by putting his team up two.
With 26 seconds left on the clock, the Burros handed off once then took the timeout to get set for the dog fight over the next three quarters. They mixed in a couple other offensive options in the form of Mark Hastings & Ezra Longthorne on their way to six more points, scored by Longthorne from a couple yards out. The point after didn't work out for the second time in two attempts so that left them with a four point lead a couple minutes into the second quarter.
The Cards got the ball back and didn't give it back until they had worked off more than six minutes of game time. Eight of the 12 plays came on the ground via Simon Romfo then on a fourth & 1 it was Romfo to Romfo, the latter being the quarterback's twin, Grant.
So it was 14-12 after another unsuccessful two point conversion. HCV had a great chance to run out the rest of the half & retake the lead. But first they had to get a first down conversion. On fourth down & 1, the snap went wrong and by the time Gallagher had secured the ball, the defense was on him & the damage was done.
So LEM got the ball back with the chance to run out the clock & extend their lead. They didn't quite play out the rest of the time but they only left 21 seconds and put themselves up eight off another touchdown by Simon Romfo.
The Burros made a go of it but didn't have enough time to counter before the break.
But momentum can be a fickle mistresses and on the first play of the third quarter HCV forced a fumble & quickly got the ball back for the offense.
The Burros went back to their bread & butter with a steady diet of Oscar Benson & a little Mark Hastings for variety. That got them the 41 necessary yards for six more, but then the pesky two point deficit came into play again. And again, the two point conversion didn't work.
So the scoreboard sat 20 - 18, LEM
Hillsboro - Central Valley's defense rose up again to force another turnover on downs. The offense responded with a couple first downs but then the wheels came off. A block in the back wiped out a clutch run by Gallagher, then on fourth & 12 Simon Romfo made another play for his squad, intercepting the pass. There was one quarter left to play but that pick all but sealed the win for Cardinals.
Both teams padded their stats over the final 12 minutes but all the scoring had been done. Not quite the storybook ending that the neighbors from the north were hoping to have yesterday morning but a game befitting the championship nonetheless. In a way, it was Langdon/Edmore/Munich ripping the torch out of the hands of Hillsboro - Central Valley as they leave the single A level.
So once again, congratulations to LEM on your 2018 championship!
Player of the Game
He showed up all over my notes and all over the stat sheet, making this one of the easiest choices all year.
Photo of the Game
You wouldn't know it from the angle, but the reach out was called short of being a touchdown. It still was the best shot of the game but encapsulates the whole game.
For more pictures from the game, click the pic!