May 31, 2016


H.S. Football: Keystone can’t get past Bucks

LAGRANGE — Covered from head to toe in mud, Buckeye junior running back Rick Monroe stood on the sloppy Keystone turf and professed his love for field conditions that are less than spectacular. Fortunately for the Bucks on Friday night, Monroe’s performance was more than spectacular.
Taking the games first play
55 yards for a touchdown, then catching a 3-yard pass from senior quarterback Billy Doerge later in the game, Monroe helped Buckeye (3-6, 3-3) to a 27-8 win over host Keystone
(0-9, 0-6) in Patriot Athletic Conference play.
“I love it,” Monroe said, smiling. “For a power back like me, this doesn’t get any better. The fields have been like this pretty much all season, and I love running when it’s like this.”
Monroe only carried the ball 11 times, gaining 95 yards, but he was Buckeye’s go to guy on the ground when they needed the tough yard.
The big play has haunted Keystone all season long, as the Bucks were just another in a long line of opponents that have scored on the first play from scrimmage against the Wildcats. But, unlike games in the past, Keystone was able to stop the bleeding quickly, and even bounce back with a score of its own.
Senior defensive back Sean Griffin picked off a Doerge pass at the Bucks 34-yard line with 54 seconds to play in the opening quarter, and four plays later the Wildcats had clawed their way to a touchdown. Highlighted by a 29-yard pass from a pair of freshmen, quarterback Denny Szalai to C.J. Conrad, Keystone junior running back Greg Howard scored from 2 yards out to make it a 7-6 game.
Buckeye would answer right back on the next possession Doerge hooked up with senior Mike Rain on a 21-yard scoring pass, capping a six-play, 71-yard drive that put the Bucks up 14-6 with 7:14 to go before halftime.
With 1:46 left in the half, the Wildcats mounted a six play drive of their own, taking the ball from the Bucks 27-yard line down to the 5. But Buckeye’s defense came up big with its back to the wall, keeping Keystone out of the end zone.
The Bucks took over at their own 5-yard line, and on the first play Doerge fumbled the snap and when he recovered the ball in the end zone, Keystone junior Riley Braun was there to meet him for a safety. That pulled the Wildcats to within six, 14-8, but would be the final points they scored.
“If we punch it in there, or if we make them (Buckeye) work harder on the very first play, who knows. But that’s all just a sign of a young team,” Keystone coach Rob Clarico said. “I thought our young kids played real well. Let’s just hope that as they get older, we get those things turned around, and we get better. We need to build on the great things we did today.”
And though the final score and outcome of the game may not have shown it, Clarico believes his team is on the right track as well.
“I’m real proud of the way we played,” he said. “I would have loved to get a win for the seniors on senior night. They’ve had to struggle through a tough year, and they won’t be around when we’re good, but they are leading the way for a bright future.”
IT’S A NUMBERS GAME: Keystone softball coach Jim Piazza, who offers up his “golden voice” as the Wildcats’ announcer, had a tough time Friday night matching the Buckeye players numbers with their names on the roster. The Bucks wear white jerseys on the road, with orange numerals, but as soon as they started playing in the mud, it became a guessing game. Piazza did a great job matching, but had a rough time pronouncing the last name of Buckeye quarterback Billy Doerge.
Contact John McDermott at 329-7135
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