River Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive
HANNIBAL – It wasn’t your ordinary coach’s postgame locker room scene Friday night inside the fieldhouse at Martin Flannery Field.
A victorious River High club, hungry for a fifth straight trip to the OHSAA playoffs, was holding off celebrating a 36-14 Senior Night win over visiting Caldwell.
Head coach Mike Flannery had his cell speaker on for all to hear, listening to good friend Jay Circosta describe play-by-play of Monroe Central’s final 1:30 against the Pilots’ week 10 opponent and Region 27 rival, Frontier.
When Flannery heard Circosta say “it’s over” and Monroe had stunned Frontier, the hush turned into a raucous celebration and the Pilot players even did a tomahawk chop to the music usually reserved for their county rival.
“We took care of what we needed to do,” said Flannery, on earning his 100th win at his alma mater. “We still have some correctable things as far as execution, but it’ll be a fun week of practice preparing for Frontier.”
River, now 5-4 and winners of five of its last seven, dominated line play from the get-go and put up four first half touchdowns.
“Coach (Eric) James had our defensive unit playing lights out, ” said Flannery, who received a chilled Gatorade soaking from his players in the final minute. Caldwell was held to minus 18 yards offense in the first half and it didn’t improve much in the second until River emptied its bench.
Responsible for most of the pressure up front was juniors Chase Lawrence and Carter Dennis, frosh Ty Long, sophomore Avery Creamer, along with seniors Heath Rosen, Jonas Schmidt, and Parker Blue.
The Pilots scored on the opening drive when Dennis, a returning all-Ohio linebacker, dragged two defenders into the end zone on a 30-yard run. Junior Michael Thompson had runs of 18 and 10 in the 64-yard scoring march. Dennis ran the PAT for a 8-0 lead at 10:54.
River made it 15-0 when Thompson darted his way 13 yards to paydirt at 1:48. Dennis had set up the TD with runs of five, nine, and 34. Sophomore Zac Hocutt drilled the extra point kick.
The hosts went to a little trickery on their third TD as freshman Brody Lollathin threw a 41-yard halfback option pass to junior Jake Rose, who had a Redskin defender beat at the 20 and waltzed to the end zone.
At 11:45 of the second Hocutt, a transfer from Texas, boomed the PAT for a 22-0 difference.
Senior QB Stone Thompson kept from a yard out with 4:43 remaining before halftime and a successful point-after made it 29-0.
Caldwell, now 2-7, continued its offensive struggles in the third and after consecutive sacks by Pilot defenders Dennis, Lawrence and Creamer, the Redskins’ punter fielded a low snap on a punt, but touched his knee to the turf at his own two-yard line.
Dennis followed blocks by Blue, Rosen and Schmidt into the end zone at 1:15, and Hocutt’s PAT made it 36-0.
Caldwell scored twice in the fourth quarter on a 29-yard pass from frosh QB Dudley Braxton to Chris Hill, and later, a 95-yard run by another frosh, Marshall Sayre.
The Pilots racked up 230-yards rushing and 5-TDs, while adding 9-16 for 97-yards. They also move the chains 11-times for first downs, while their defense held Caldwell to only 4-first downs. Both teams lost 4-fumbles.
Dennis racked up 122-yards on 13 carries and 2-TDs, while Johnson gained 59-yards on 9-carries and a touchdown. Brody Lollathin gained 42-yards rushing, while Ty Long added 11-yards on his only carry. Lawrence gained a yard rushing, while Thompson scored on a QB keeper.
Thompson was 10-18 for 73-yards, while Lollathin was 1-1 for 59-yards and a touchdown. Jake Rose earned 79-yards and a touchdown on 3-catches, while Lawrence gained 17-yards on 2 grabs, and Dennis 2-catches for 3-yards. Hocutt drilled 4-PAT boots.
(Bruce Crawford added to the story)