Sunnyvale raids Farmersville: Raiders’ stout defense pushes the team to 5-0
By Zach Markovic, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sunnyvale Raiders’ football team gave something to all of the returning alums they had not seen during their years in the district on Homecoming night – a 5-0 start to the football season.
Despite a bumpy first half the Raiders’ came out with something to prove against the Farmersville Farmers and put the game away with a 33-18 victory Friday night. With the win Sunnyvale extends its best record in school history to 5-0 with the win over Farmersville and their first district win of the season.
Coach John Settle said he did his best through the week not to build the game up for the athletes, but he knew the significance of the game.
“I am so proud of coaches and our kids,” Settle said. “I did not tell my kids this coming in, but I knew this was the biggest win in their history, in Raiders’ history – without a question.”
Even if Settle did not let on to how big the game was, the Raiders’ came out and played with some jitters in the first half as the offense had five penalties in the first half, with three penalties midway through the first quarter happening one right after the other. They also allowed Farmersville to score first early in the first quarter after a Farmers’ receiver took a pass 70 yards for a touchdown. Farmersville would miss the point-after –attempt which left them up 6-0 early on.
Starting on their own 10 after the kickoff, the Raiders made their way back down the field. While the series started off methodically moving down the field it quickly broke down as they neared the redzone. In a series of miscues the team lost a total of 20 yards over three plays to penalties and had to settle for a 33 yard field goal from junior Casey Crenshaw.
Farmersville responded after taking the field on offense and ran in a 75 yard touchdown and were stopped on the two point conversion leaving the score at 12-3. Those two touchdowns would be the last time the Farmers would score on the Raiders’ defense.
The Raiders would score another field goal as the result of an interception junior Demetrius Gray pulled out of the air deep in Farmers territory.
After the field goal Farmersville would get the ball back but stall at midfield and would turn the ball over on downs on their own 43. This would lead to Sunnyvale’s first touchdown as Abdul Khalaf, sophomore running back, scampered in for a 4 yard touchdown and the Raiders took the lead with the point after attempt making the score 13-12.
And while the offense was beginning to click, it was obvious that the defense was not happy about giving up two early big play scores and really clamped down when two Raider offensive mistakes left the Farmers threatening to score in the redzone.
In two series a total of seven plays occurred with one ending in a missed field goal and the second series ending in three plays with a Raider fumble recovery by Mohammad Al -Rousan , junior defensive end.
“We have been practicing redzone stops all week,” Al-Rousan said. “It was about playing our assignments. We are well coached and just doing what we are taught to do.”
After the fumble recovery the Raiders ran out the clock to halftime and the team and coaches went into the locker room grateful for the lead but trying to figure out how to clear up the miscues.
“[Our defense] held them to two score,” Settle said. “We kind of laid an egg there a couple times with some turnovers. We snapped the ball 47 times in that first half, so it was not about them, it was about us finishing and not turning the ball over.”
If the first half was about the offense missing a step, the second half was about the offense clicking on all cylinders. Junior quarterback Ryan Cottingame said they wanted to come out and score early to prove that they were in control. He would be involved with the next three Raiders’ touchdowns, running the first one in himself early in the third quarter and connecting with junior receiver Josh Quinn twice in the endzone to seal the deal.
With a score of 33-12 Farmersville made things interesting when they ran kickoff back 82 yards for a touchdown but again were stopped on the two point conversion leaving Sunnyvale up 33-18 with a little over two minutes to go.
However, the Raiders would recover the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock for the victory, a victory that is being touted as one of the biggest in the short history of the young school.
“It is awesome,” Cottingame said. “We have a freaking awesome defense and my line is absolutely awesome, and deserves all the credit the team has. If it was not for them we would not have an offense. I am just proud of those guys our team, proud of our special team, proud of our coaches.”