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Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018
Cards not terribly pleased with season opening win
by Randy Pascal

The St Charles College Cardinals senior football team took their first step towards a three-peat, Thursday at the James Jerome Sports Complex, all while realizing that there is a lot of work ahead that is needed in order to achieve that goal.

The Cardinals opened the 2017 high-school football schedule with a 21-14 win over the Lively Hawks, coming from behind to knock off one of the more solid contenders to the crown.

St Charles were opportunistic, from time to time, taking advantage of a punt recovery in the first quarter, as Bankamina N'Galamulume darted 41 yards on the very next play to open the scoring.

With the Lively defence settling in to force a number of "three and outs", as all SDSSAA teams adjust to the drop from four down football, their high octane offense would take flight. Quarterback Nick Rideout connected twice with receiver Nick Witzke, from eight yards out (1:54 to play in Q1) and 20 yards out (11:10 to play in Q2) as the Hawks pulled ahead 14-7.

Focusing largely on the run, but with a few key receptions from Gage Louis and Andrew Foley, the Cardinals marched late in the second, capping their drive with a one yard plunge from pivot Nathan Rivet.

The only scoring of the second half came courtesy of N'Galamulume, early in quarter three, as the St Charles' veteran battered his way home from five yards out, accounting for the game-winning score and adding three converts to his statistical resume on the night.

Kiel Cress made good on both point after attempts for Lively, in a contest that featured relative few turnovers. That provided very little consolation to Rivet and his teammates, who were a long way from gloating on the victory.

"My throws we're really off today, it's embarrassing how bad I played," he said. "I'm glad we came out with the "W", but it wasn't a good "W", that's for sure. I have to get my throws more on point."

Nowhere is the move to three down football likely more impactful than with the Cardinals, a program with a long and rich tradition of running the ball down the proverbial throats of opponents. "At St Charles, everyone knows we're a running team," said Rivet.

"We have to throw a lot more in three down football. My receivers are really good, the biggest thing is on me to make the throws." Back in action for a huge matchup next Thursday against the St Benedict Bears, Rivet and company are not about to sugar coat the challenge that lies ahead.

"We all know we have to work hard, because we played really slopped today," he said. "To come out with a win is good, but it's nothing to brag about." The second day of the SDSSAA schedule is an abbreviated one, with the Lasalle Lancers already confirming their intention to forfeit their battle with the Lo-Ellen Park Knights.

According to head coach Mike Derks, the Lancers struggled mightily to get their players out to the requisite eight practices that athletes are supposed to participate in prior to engaging in football game action. While the numbers at practice early this week were much better, numbering thirty or so, that was nowhere near what was there the first week of school, with Derks opting to follow the letter of the law.

No surprise that Lo-Ellen coach Kevin Ellsworth was not at all pleased with this latest turn of events. With just three or so returning starters from the 2016 squad, the Knights were the one crew that could really have used the type of match-up that Lasalle was likely to provide before fighting it out with some of the more experienced lineups in the league.

The two remaining games, on Friday, sees the Bears taking to the field with the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes (3:00 p.m.), looking to prove they can be in the championship conversation with St Charles and Lively, while the Confederation Chargers also face a "statement game" of their own, kicking things off against the Lockerby Vikings at 8:00 p.m.

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