After a strong opening kickoff, Ridgway football never looked back.
The Elkers scored on its first possession and never trailed in a 39-0 victory over Johnsonburg Friday night at Memorial Field in Ridgway.
"It's a great feeling. I couldn't be any more happier for our players," Ridgway coach Mark Heindl said. "All 24 that dressed earned this award. It's because of them that we brought that trophy back. What a great effort in all three phases of the game, offensively, defensively and special teams. Our kids played their hearts out and you saw it."
Mike Cappiello set up the Elkers (4-2 overall, 1-1 AML South) in Johnsonburg territory after a 39-yard kickoff return, starting Ridgway at the Rams' 46-yard line. Cappiello then caught a 16-yard pass from quarterback Jordan Lundin. Two plays later, JoJo Jaques was on the receiving end of a 25-yard touchdown connection which put Ridgway up 7-0 with 10:03 left in the first quarter.
"This is the rivalry game, we had to come through St. Marys to get here," Johnsonburg coach Jesse Schreiber said. "It doesn't matter what week it's played, it's still a rivalry week. I think our kids were pumped up in the beginning. I thought we had a good defense going in. They hit the one-on-one with the cornerback because he got burnt."
Heindl said he knew getting out to a good start would be important.
"We knew coming in especially in a rivalry game that we needed to get on top early. "A team like Johnsonburg, they're struggling right now but you give a team like that momentum and it's going to come back to haunt you," Heindl said. "A credit to Johnsonburg and their coaching staff, their kids did not quit the entire game. A lot of that credit goes to them."
Johnsonburg 0 0 0 0 - 0
Ridgway 20 12 0 7 - 39
R - JoJo Jaques 25 pass from Jordan Lundin (Eric Matheson kick), 10:03
R - Mike Cappiello 41 run (Matheson kick), 2:29
R - Kyle Caggiano 30 pass from Lundin (kick failed), 1:18
R - Cappiello 7 run (kick failed), 6:29
R - Matheson 83 run (kick failed), :40
R - Zac McKnight 51 run (Matheson kick), 9:03
Team stats Johnsonburg Ridgway
First downs 8 7
Rushes-yards 38-65 39-252
Passing yards 15 90
Total yards 80 342
Fumbles-lost 5-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-50 4-45
Passing: Johnsonburg: Jaryd Servidea 3-14-15-0-3. Ridgway: Jordan Lundin 4-5-90-2-0, JoJo Jaques 0-1-0-0-0.
Rushing: Johnsonburg: Frank Kocjancic 16-53, Michael Shuey 5-16, Eric Bevacqua 1-13, Kyle Sheldon 3-7, Shane Bickford 4-3, Jaryd Servidea 9-(-27). Ridgway: Eric Matheson 4-84, Mike Cappiello 10-71, Zac McKnight 4-53, Sam Delhunty 6-25, Steve Mitchell 3-11, Brett Himes 5-10, JoJo Jaques 2-0, Jordan Lundin 4-(-2).
Receiving: Johnsonburg: Frank Kocjancic 2-13, Shane Bickford 1-2. Ridgway: Kyle Caggiano 1-30, JoJo Jaques 1-25, Jake Himes 1-19, Mike Cappiello 1-16.
Johnsonburg (0-6, 0-2) went three-and-out but took advantage of a Ridgway mistake as a fumbled quarterback-center exchange was recovered by the Rams at the Ridgway 40-yard line. Johnsonburg garnered a first down but was turned away on downs after a 4th-and-8 at the Ridgway 28.
Ridgway converted a key 3rd-and-10 at its own 40-yard line on the ensuing drive as Jake Himes caught a 19-yard pass over the middle. Two plays later, Cappiello went to the left side and scored on a 41-yard touchdown run to make the lead 14-0.
"Confidence is a big thing, especially in a rivalry game," Heindl said. "A credit to that goes to our offensive line, they controlled it. We're hard on those guys week in and week out. They manned up, controlled the offensive line. We got some big breaks, got some nice holes opened and got some scores early."
Ridgway's defense struck on Johnsonburg's next possession as a tipped pass from Johnsonburg quarterback Jaryd Servidea was intercepted by defensive lineman Alex Oknefski.
"That's something that our kids pride themselves in week in and week out," Heindl said. "Defensively, we've been in position all year. We've really fixed a lot of stuff from last week into this week, we just have to keep it rolling, we have to keep the momentum going on our side."
Ridgway wasted little time turning the interception into points as Lundin rolled out to his right on a play action pass and found Kyle Caggiano for a 30-yard touchdown connection and a 20-0 lead with 1:18 left in the first quarter. Schreiber said the Rams are having mistakes at inopportune times which are causing troubles. Johnsonburg was shutout for the third straight week.
"We make everything more difficult than it has to be," Schreiber said. "We start moving the football, we do some good things and then we lose a snap or the snap goes over our head. The little things, it's tough for us. The kids don't stop fighting, that's all we can ask for."
Johnsonburg fumbled on its next possession but the Rams defense was able to hold the Elkers without points as Ridgway missed a field goal. The Elkers intercepted Johnsonburg on the Rams' next drive early in the second quarter as the Rams went for it on 4th-and-7 from its own 35-yard line. Eric Matheson intercepted the pass and set up the Elkers at the Johnsonburg 28-yard line. Cappiello capped off the 6-play drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to put Ridgway up 26-0 after a missed extra point. Cappiello ran the ball 10 times for 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"It's the same thing over and over each week," Schreiber said. "We preach that we got to hold on to the football, we got to do smart things. It's tough. A lot of these kids, it's the first time playing so it's a whole new experience even though it's Week 6. They're working hard, that's all we can ask."
Johnsonburg's offense created two first downs, one as Servidea ran for 11 yards on the right side, that was after the Rams converted a 3rd-and-6 from its own 32-yard line. Johnsonburg would get stuffed on a 10-yard sack on 3rd-and-8 from midfield and the Rams would have to punt.
Matheson would sprint 83 yards from the right side with 40 seconds left in the half to put Ridgway ahead 32-0 at the intermission.
"We stressed to our kids, especially after the half, we can't wait until halftime to make adjustments, we need to play a complete 4-quarter game," Heindl said. "Our kids proved week in and week out that they can do it on any given night. It's just a matter of doing it consistently."
Ridgway began to cycle players into the game in the second half as neither team threatened to score any points in the third quarter. Zac McKnight rounded out the scoring with a 51-yard touchdown run with 9:03 left in the fourth quarter.
Ridgway hosts Curwensville (4-2, 1-1) next Friday at 7 p.m. with Senior Night to start at 6 p.m.
"We need to carry this into next week which is a big AML South encounter with Curwensville," Heindl said. "There's no easy game. The biggest thing about the AML this year, especially in the south, everybody's pretty equal across the board. We just got to make sure that we eliminate our mistakes. We need a great week of practice and it'll be a good game next Friday."
Johnsonburg is scheduled to host Kane (3-3, 0-2) next Friday at 7 p.m.
NOTES: Ridgway leads the all-time series 50-49-8 in the 107 meetings between the two teams.. According to D9Sports.com, Ridgway has scored 1,394 points all-time while Johnsonburg has 1,388.. Frank Kocjancic led the Rams with 53 rushing yards and 13 receiving yards.. A moment of silence was held for Terry Dietrick before the game.