Gaels roll past Ridge View

Statement made.

The ninth-ranked (Class 1A) St. Edmond football team sent a jolt around the state thanks to their 62-6 thrashing of Ridge View here Friday night on Homecoming inside Dodger Stadium.

In a battle of unbeatens, the final score was never in doubt for the Gaels (5-0 overall, 3-0 in 1A, District 2), who stormed out to a 19-0 lead after the first quarter and put the 35-point rule into play to start the third.

Sophomore running back T.J. O’Tool had 181 yards on 17 carries, including three rushing touchdowns, while senior Vinnie Harvey added 88 yards and three scores.

O’Tool also had an interception return for six, along with Hank Crimmins, as St. Edmond forced five Raptor (4-1, 2-1) turnovers.

“Unbelievable,” said SEHS head coach Dick Tighe, who won his 405th career game. “I’ve been in this thing for a long time now, and I can’t remember a first half like that before.”

St. Edmond scored on its first four possessions, racking up 283 yards on the ground in the opening 24 minutes. O’Tool had 143 of his yards, including TD runs of 35 and 27 yards.

In between Harvey bullied his way through would-be Ridge View tacklers for scores from five and seven yards out.

“When you have someone like Vinnie making holes for you, it’s pretty easy to run behind,” said O’Tool, who has now ran for 310 yards in two home games this year. “I still feel a lot of pressure out there, but everything is starting to slow down a little for me.”

Ridge View entered the game averaging over 35 points and better than 400 yards a game, using the much-publicized spread-option offense.

For Tighe and his self-described “old-fashioned” belly offense, this game meant something a little more.

“The old ways still work,” he said. “I honestly was a little worried after seeing film on them. They really moved the ball and made a lot of big plays (earlier in the year).

“But we came out, hit them hard and fast, and showed what we can do. I’m proud of these kids.”

Since winning their first two games by a combined 12 points, the Gaels have outscored the last three teams they’ve faced 138-6. Still, some felt Ridge View was the favorite entering Friday night, despite St. Edmond posting back-to-back shutouts over the last two weeks.

“We saw all that internet talk about being 17-point underdogs,” Crimmins said. “It helped motivate us, but more importantly, the coaches prepared us with a great week of practice.”

Harvey agreed, adding, “We knew exactly what we needed to do out there, and we did it. We’re really coming together as a team, with everybody learning their roles and excelling in them.”

St. Edmond’s first 32 plays from scrimmage all went for positive yards, as they racked up 416 yards on the ground in all. The Gaels also converted 5 of 6 third-down attempts in the opening half, while the Raptors never got on track.

Ridge View was 0-for-6 on third-down, accounted for just three turnovers in the first half and had just 57 yards from the first-string unit.

“These kids wanted to make a statement and that’s what they did,” Tighe said. “Now, we’re in control of the district race, but we still have several tough obstacles to climb.”

Harvey echoed those thoughts, saying “we’ll enjoy this one (Friday night), but come Monday, we’ll be right back working for IKM-Manning next Friday.”

The 62 points by St. Edmond is the most since a 70-point performance in 2007 vs. Woodward-Granger.

Payton Sitzmann added 71 yards late in the game, while Michael Faiferlick had 65 and an interception.

Landon Peed and Zach Gailey each recovered fumbles on defense, as well.

Next up for the Gaels is IKM-Manning (2-3, 0-2) on the road. The Wolves lost to Sioux Central, 20-14, last night.