SHINGLE SPRINGS — It’s a game both teams look toward each season. Friday night, Ponderosa and Oak Ridge continued their intra-county football rivalry and for the first half, it was a defensive gem.
The Trojans only mustered a seven-point halftime lead but the second half was a different story as Oak Ridge got its offense on track to leave Simon Bruin Stadium 31-0 winners of the Delta River League matchup.
“That first half was exactly how I thought it’d be,” Troy coach Eric Cavaliere said. “I figured it would be low-scoring and a battle in the trenches. I was confident that we could physically take over in the second half.”
For the Bruins, the first half couldn’t have been more frustrating. After yielding an opening-drive score, Ponderosa went on a 17-play, 65-yard march to get into scoring position before a missed field goal ended the promising drive.
“It’s tough when you get a drive like that and no points from it,” Bruin coach Jason Tenner said. “We had chances to put it into the end zone and we couldn’t. Other teams are making those plays against us. We just have to find a way to make those plays ourselves.”
Oak Ridge wasted little time building on its halftime lead, going 80 yards in 10 plays with the final 32 a pass from quarterback Dylan Collie to Lance Berringer. John David Smith’s point after put Troy up 14-0.
“Hats off to my coaching staff on both sides of the ball,” Cavaliere said. “They came up with a fantastic game plan and the kids just executed. I thought we played well in all aspects tonight: offense, defense and special teams.”
After forcing the Bruins to punt on their next drive, the Trojans went back to work. A 25-yard Collie to Berringer hook-up positioned Oak Ridge at the Bruin 29-yard line but the drive stalled and David Smith was summoned to split the uprights from 40 yards out to push the lead to 17-0.
Several possessions later, Ponderosa had the chains moving on Jacob Bist’s 8-yard pass to Chris Hobbs and Bist’s 29-yarder to Ben Boardway but on the next play, Preston Dean stepped in front of a pass and raced 77 yards to pay dirt.
“Our front seven really took control in the second half and contained their inside run game,” Cavaliere said. “It all goes back to our coaches — Jeff (LeWallen) on offense and Daren (Jonutz) on defense — they put together a game plan that the kids executed perfectly.”
Troy added a late score as Jake Rosada scored on a 10-yard run.
A week after turning the ball over seven times, the Trojans had just one Friday. With their run game bottled up (93 yards, 23 carries), it was the passing game that made plays. Collie finished with 163 yards on 11-of-21 passing and two touchdowns.
“It wasn’t tough from the film to see what we were going to do,” Cavaliere said. “Ponderosa really did a good job of clogging the middle and taking away the ground game. We were able to get Dylan (Collie) moving around and he made some plays. He’s only going to get better as he gets more time in practice.”
After facing a brutal nonleague schedule, the Bruins’ foray into the Delta River League hasn’t gotten any easier. Up next for Ponderosa is defending state champion Folsom; Oak Ridge takes on top-ranked Pleasant Grove.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Tenner said. “They battled all night. We’re asking a lot of guys to play a lot of snaps and we just ran out of gas. We’re a family and we’ll hang in there. Once we start to make those extra plays to extend drives we’ll be all right.”
Troy’s first half score came on its first possession as Collie hooked up with Bradford Buenzli on a 7-yard swing pass.
Boardway led the Bruins with 77 yards rushing and added 15 receiving. Chris Hobbs added 45 yards on three receptions. Kyle Marshall had a fumble recovery and Kaden Mosbacher added a sack on defense.
Dean had 33 yards on nine carries for Oak Ridge, Rosada added 31 and Shay Mueller had 23. Berringer led all receivers with 95 yards on five grabs. Buenzli added 54 on five catches. On defense, Roman Andrus had a sack and teamed with Jacob Proul on another. Dean and Zach Claiborne each added sacks.
Stats courtesy of Haley Anderson