Pilots Remain Unbeaten
After debuting Sunday afternoon in 100-degree heat, River High head coach Mike Flannery said Friday night’s 41-21 win over Shenandoah on a short prep week “was like playing in Alaska,” as cooler temps prevailed at Martin Flannery Field in Hannibal.
“Our offensive line played exceptionally well,” added the RHS mentor, as the Pilots only punted on their opening series, stopped another time at the 20 on downs, and twice on fumbles.
The O-line of Collin Huffman, Trey Isaly, Luke Matusik, Mason Ladyga, Tucker Boggs, and junior Luc Baker were solid for the 2-0 Pilots. “We didn’t spend much time on the practice field this week, but the blocking and protection was there the entire game.”
“We used all our playmakers and I was comfortable calling their numbers,” mentioned Flannery, who takes his senior-laden squad to county rival Monroe Central on Friday.
The Pilots scored on their third drive after the previous one stalled on downs at the Shenandoah 20. Big gainer was a 31-yard pass from junior quarterback Lukas Isaly to classmate Drew Dietz to the visitors’ 20.
Senior Parker Caretti, who shined defensively with two interceptions, caught a short pass to the 10, and two plays later, Isaly kept up the middle for the TD.
Junior Grant Williams’ PAT kick was perfect at 1:22 for a 7-0 lead.
Shenandoah tied it up with :08 left in the quarter when junior standout Nick Miller toted for a 15-yard TD after a gain of 34 on the previous play. Hunter Templeton’s conversion kick was true.
A pass interference penalty keyed River’s second TD drive as the hosts gained a first down at the Zep 37. Caretti ran for nine, before junior back Drew Wagnild found a big hole up the middle for a 23-yard scoring jaunt. Williams’ boot at 10:15 made it 14-7.
The momentum tilted River’s way on Shenandoah’s ensuing possession when Pilot linebacker Cody Saksa caused a fumble on a sack, which Dietz scooped up.
From its own 34 after a sideline penalty, Isaly threw deep to Caretti, who made an acrobatic leap above two defenders to complete a 48-yard completion, and Dietz pulled in a pass for 20 to the one.
Dietz totaled 79 receiving yards on four catches.
Isaly kept behind a Huffman block at 2:00 for a 20-7 halftime lead.
Senior flyer Braden Whetsell got the edge on a Zep linebacker and darted 54 yards to the two-yard line on the Pilots’ opening march of the third quarter.
Flannery called Whetsell’s number on the next play for a TD at 9:33. On the bonus try, Caretti fired a dart to junior Payton Van Camp for a 28-7 margin.
Shenandoah’s Miller weaved his way 45 yards for a TD to cut it to 28-13 with 7:37 showing in the third.
The Pilots’ Lukas Isaly intercepted to set up Dakota Smith’s short touchdown burst at 3:10 to up the spread to 34-13.
Moments later, Caretti made a juggling interception at his 30 to set up a time-consuming 13-play scoring march.
An Isaly-to-Wagnild connection worked for a seven-yard TD at 8:46. Williams drilled the PAT to make it 41-13.
Shenandoah closed the scoring with 7:35 remaining when Boone Jones hit Dalton Cowgill in stride for a 67-yard TD.
Coach Jesse Wells’ Zeps, now 1-1, threatened in the final seconds before Caretti picked off a pass at the one.
The Pilots accounted for 205 yards rushing and five touchdowns, with Whetsell leading the way with 60 yards and one score, while Isaly followed with 40 yards and two touchdowns. Wagnild accumulated 37 yards and two scores, while Dakota Smith added 24 yards and a score.
Threw the air, Isaly was 13-17 for 205 yards and a touchdown, with Dietz leading the charge with four catches for 79-yards, while Caretti hauled in three passes for 55 yards. Wagnild hauled in one Isaly pass for 30-yards and a score, while Whetsell and Smith each hauling in a pass for positive yardage.
Defensively, Cody Saska led the way once more with a dozen stops, including two quarterback sacks and two tackles for loss of yardage. Luke Matucik brought down 11, including two tackles for loss of yardage, and forced a fumble.
Grant Williams kicked three extra point tries for the Pilots.
In addition, Smith and Hunter Davis each recorded seven tackles, including one for loss of yardage. Caretti had two interceptions and forced a fumble, while Isaly added an interception. Dietza and Whetsell each recorded four tackles and each recovered a fumble.
The Pilots will travel make their way out to Woodsfield Sept 9 to take on county rival Monroe Central at 7 p.m.