The Ellet football team will retain “The Shoe” for the sixth year in a row.
Senior Marquise Bridges rushed for two touchdowns and senior Garrett Haverstick ran for two scores and passed for another to lead host Ellet to a 35-14 win over rival Springfield in Friday’s season opener.
“I don’t know if you win a first game, I think you survive it,” Ellet coach Joe Yost said.
The Orangemen stayed afloat with Bridges rushing 25 times for 193 yards, and Haverstick rushing eight times for 93 yards and completing 3-of-9 passes for 75 yards.
“I just knew I had to come through for my team,” Bridges said. “I couldn’t let my team down. After what we did last year, they are expecting a lot out of me this year. Coming into this year, I had to have the same mentality.
“Our offensive line and defensive line stepped up tremendously tonight. We knew coming into the ballgame it was going to be a tough one, and those guys stepped up.”
Ellet took a 7-0 lead with 1:56 to go in the second quarter on an 8-yard rushing touchdown by Bridges and a kick by senior Jaret Jones, who made all five of his kicks.
Springfield scored then with 15 seconds left in the half. Senior Chase Johnson had a nice kickoff return, and a long pass by junior Paul Stubbs set up his 6-yard scoring pass to senior Michael Thomas. Junior Michael Simone made his first of two extra-point kicks to make it 7-7.
Yost praised assistant coach Chuck Shuman for his talk at halftime. Bridges rushed for 136 yards on 13 carries in the second half behind his offensive linemen — seniors Cade Brodie, Lucas Renick and Steve Cody and juniors James Garlock and Caleb Minard.
The Orangemen were 14-7 with 9:22 to go in the third quarter when Haverstick rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, but the Spartans evened it at 14-14 on their next possession courtesy of a 59-yard touchdown pass from Stubbs to Johnson at 8:23.
Ellet scored the final 14 points of the third with Haverstick tossing a 49-yard touchdown to senior Cameron Brake at 8:12 and Bridges rushing for a 53-yard touchdown.
Haverstick added a 68-yard touchdown run with 10 seconds to go in the game.
“Ellet does a great job and they have some really good players,” said Springfield coach Kevin Vaughn, a 1997 Ellet graduate and former player and assistant coach under Yost.
“Haverstick is a good kid, their offensive line does a great job and Bridges behind them is awesome. He is a very talented kid and overall they are a good football team. I saw in the paper they have 21 seniors, so they have a lot of leadership.
“As far as my team, our kids never gave up. They fought and they came here to play.”
Springfield’s Zach Weaver and Zach DiLauro combined to rush 18 times for 110 yards. Stubbs completed 9-of-28 passes for 176 yards.
Ellet’s defense forced five turnovers with Bridges, Brake, senior Michael Rodriguez, and junior Caleb Schramm each snagging an interception, and senior Skyler Decatur recovering a fumble.
“It is so exciting to be a senior and get this win,” Rodriguez said. “To get four medallions [with wins over Springfield] is a beautiful thing.