NEWCOMERSTOWN -- Ridgewood High made it a clean sweep for the season on Friday as the Generals finished a perfect 10-0 with a 30-0 win over Newcomerstown.
With the victory, the Generals regained the Inter-Valley Conference championship banner with a 7-0 league mark. The title gives the Generals their sixth championship in the last seven years and also marks the seventh straight season the team has made the playoffs.
Since 2005 when head coach John Slusser assumed control, Ridgewood has gone an amazing 46-4 in regular season play, including 34-1 in the IVC with its only blemish last year against the Hornets.
For Newcomerstown, the game wasn't all bad news. The Trojans finished with a 5-5 mark, a little short of their goal for a winning season, but it was the most wins for the team since 2003. Coach Eric Brock had his work cut out to put the program back on track after assuming the reigns last year, and the progress of the group was evident.
"I'm proud of what we were able to do this year," said Brock. "Considering where we came from last season, we made
some good strides with the program. Our biggest improvement was that we played competitively, even in games we lost, and gained some respect around the league.
"Even though we were down 10-0 at halftime tonight," the NHS coach continued, "we felt we were in position that with some adjustments and maybe a big play here or there, that we would be right in it. But my hat's off to Ridgewood, they kept coming at us and showed why they are undefeated and the league champs. We just ran out of gas unfortunately and the game slipped away."
Ridgewood scored on its second series of the game on a 54-yard drive. Senior Jake Conrad went in the final three yards standing up and Skylor McQuiston's PAT made it 7-0 at the 4:35 mark of the first quarter.
The teams traded six punts before the Generals got three more points right before the half to make it 10-0.
McQuiston's 22 yard field goal capped a 70-yard drive that showcased runs by Colt Landis, Tommy Wiggins, Conrad and a 29-yard Kevin Davis pass to Wiggins.
The Trojans were holding close thanks to a tough defense, no costly turnovers and no costly penalties, but the offense was having its trouble as a swarming Generals' defense held Newcomerstown to only 29 yards of total yardage in the first half.
"We had some open receivers but Caleb needed more time in the pocket to get his passes off.," Brock offered. "Their defense was tough and kept our running game in check. Still, I thought if we could just break a play or two, we could build the momentum we needed. It just didn't happen."
The third quarter started with Ridgewood on offense, and Newcomerstown came out fired up with two big gang tackles on the first two plays that had the crowd fired up, but a 23-yard pass from Davis to Evan Jones was followed by big ground gains by Nick Bellick, Conrad and Wiggins. Conrad carried it over from the three for his second score and the game was 17-0 at the 8:27 mark following the PAT kick by McQuiston.
After a Trojan punt, the Generals came back with a nine-play, 72-yard drive. This time it was Landis going in from the four and McQuiston's kick made it 24-0 with 1:56 to go in the quarter.
Landis intercepted a Rankin pass on the next series and Ridgewood used the opportunity to milk time off the clock.
The Generals used 14 plays and almost eight minutes to advance the ball to the Trojans' 10 before McQuiston booted a 27-yard field goal, making it 27-0 with 4:23 left in the game. The senior kicking standout eventually added another field goal from 40 yards to close scoring.
Conrad led all runners with 64 yards on 16 carries. Wiggins finished with 59 stripes on seven attempts, followed by Landis (4-39) and Bellick (3-21). Davis was 9-of-12 for 108 yards with no interceptions.
His favorite targets included Bates, who had four receptions for 31 yards; Landis with three catches for 24 stripes; and Wiggins, who hauled in two for 43 markers.
Newcomerstown (5-5, 3-4 IVC) could not muster much offensively as Josh Miller gained 10 yards on seven carries. Rankin was 9-of-20 for 54 yards and one interception. Serafin Sanchez led the Trojan receivers with six receptions for 27 yards while Jansen Lenzo snagged two for 16 stripes.