OLD WASHINGTON -- Opening night started off on the wrong foot for first-year Buckeye Trail coach Dale Broomhall and his Warriors and didn't get much better as the night progressed on Friday, with Trail dropping a lopsided 60-13 decision to the visiting Ridgewood High Generals.
"They're good," Broomhall said following the contest. "They are a very difficult team to open with because they have such a strong program. We knew that coming in and were hoping to be competitive with them, but we made a lot of mistakes tonight and you just can't do that against a team like Ridgewood."
Probably the high point of the night for the Warriors was winning the coin flip to start the game, but things quickly went south from that point for the hosts.
Ridgewood kicker Bret Mitchell pooched a short kick-off down the right sideline to open the game and the Warriors were slow to react, allowing Seth Bergeron of the Generals to jump on the football at the Trail 34-yard line to quickly turn momentum to the side of the Generals.
RHS junior Garrett Bethel took the season's opening hand-off and quickly scampered 27 yards to the six-yard line and two plays later, Bethel plunged into the end zone for the touchdown with 10:52 left in the opening quarter. Mitchell added the PAT kick for a quick 7-0 lead.
Off the ensuing kickoff, Trail got its first crack on offense and managed to crank out a first down before mistakes sent the hosts headed in the wrong direction. The Warriors were whistled for three straight penalties which quickly put a halt to the drive, forcing a punt back to the Generals.
Ridgewood went back to work, cranking out a seven-play, 50-yard drive to paydirt, with Bethel collecting his second short TD run at the 4:30 mark of the first period --this one coming from three yards out to push the RHS lead to 14-0 following Mitchell's PAT kick.
Taking advantage of a Trail fumble, Mitchell used his right foot to extend the Generals' lead in the second quarter, connecting on a 37-yard field goal to push the Ridgewood advantage to 17-0 with 5:04 left before the halftime intermission.
Following a three-and-out offensive series by the Warriors, Mitchell found his way into the end zone to cap a six-play, 37-yard march with a one-yard dive with 1:29 left in the opening half to extend the Generals' lead out 25-0.
Bethel then closed the Generals' first half scoring with his third TD with a three-yard run for a 32-0 RHS lead with 45.8 on the clock.
"We're really not that great an offensive team," Ridgewood coach John Slusser said of his team's explosion. "They turned it over several times that really helped give us a short field a few times. Things just really got away from them early and then kind of snowballed on them."
Buckeye Trail was finally able to get on the scoreboard in the waning seconds of the first half when QB Jeff Simmons found CJ Beaver open in the back of the end zone for a nifty 15-yard touchdown, as Beaver did a nice job of getting his foot down to pull the Warriors within 32-6 after a blocked PAT attempt with 11.5 seconds remaining.
Ridgewood left no doubt in the outcome with a pair of big scoring plays on defense to put the game out of reach in the second half.
First, it was a 75-yard interception return for a score by senior Ryan Cognion to give RHS a 39-6 lead and then it was Bethel collecting his fourth TD of the contest, scooping up a Trail fumble and racing 32 yards for a TD to extend the lead to 46-6 with 7:58 left in the third quarter.
"We'll just have to regroup and cut down on the mistakes," Broomhall said. "We'll be back out on Thursday night at Caldwell and hopefully we can correct some of tonight's mistakes."
Freshman Isiah Tucker got the Warriors back on the board to close out the third quarter, rumbling into the end zone on a three-yard run to narrow the gap to 46-13 after Ian Wildes PAT kick with 2:55 on the clock.
Ridgewood closed the night's scoring with a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, with sophomore Alex Croston ripping off a 45-yard scoring jaunt and classmate Tommy Montague adding a 41-yard scoring run.
Ridgewood finished the night with a total of 306 yards on the ground in 38 attempts, with a total of 12 different ballcarriers getting touches. Bethel led the way with 92 yards on 16 carries while Mitchell added 54 in four totes and Croston racked up 51 yards in just two tries.
Trail managed just 147 yards of offense, with senior Tyler Nealey leading the ground game with 40 yards in 10 carries and Tucker finishing with 31 yards in 10 attempts.
"I thought we ran the ball pretty well tonight," Slusser said. "It was a good opening night; we played all 57 kids we brought and got the win. I'm happy for the kids. We replaced 19 starters from last year and they did a good job of answering the bell tonight."
NEXT--Ridgewood plays at Waynedale on Friday, with kickoff at 7 p.m.