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High School Football: Eden frustration turns to relief

Junior quarterback Mike Sarratori led Eden down the field on the only scoring drive it would need in an 8-7 win over Southwestern but it didn’t come until over three minutes into the fourth. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Three quarters of frustration turned to relief in the fourth for Chuck Tilley and his Eden squad.

Despite racking up about 300 yards of offense and on defense, not allowing more than an opening-drive touchdown, Eden needed to scratch and claw its way to a one-point win over Southwestern in a non-league game to close the 2012 regular season.

After having two drives deep inside Southwestern territory end with interceptions and another two halted when they turned over the ball on downs, the Raiders finally broke through with a fourth quarter touchdown and a successful two-point play that was the difference in an 8-7 win on Saturday (Oct. 13) at Eden.

“One of the things we talked about before the game was always scoring in the red zone and not turning the ball over and today, unfortunately, we did not score in the red zone and we turned the ball over,” said Tilley, Eden’s fourth year head coach. “That made the game look close even though we significantly outgained them in yardage. Yet, we only scored eight points, and I was even wondering if we were going to score at all.”

“Everything was working — we’re not breaking big plays but we’re getting four to five yards, but something keeps happening and that’s frustrating,” he added.

Junior Mike Sarratori hit classmate Garrett DiStefano on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 8:38 left in the game on a fourth-and-six and then senior Matt Bialy connected with classmate Jon Lyndsley on the game-winning two-point conversion.

“We didn’t get too frustrated (with the missed opportunities),” DiStefano said. “We knew what we had to. We made mistakes but we knew there was still an opportunity to fix that.”

“I just ran though the defense, saw an opening and Nick threw a perfect ball and I ended up catching it,” the fullback added about the winning catch.

Tilley went back to calling the same pass play to his fullback after it successfully started the drive with a 16-yard gain down the Southwestern 34-yard-line. Earlier in the game, the ball went to DiStefano on a similar pattern and it went off his hands and into teammate’s Kyle Gibbon for a 40-yard gain. Tilley also credited his tight end fighting for the ball on the two-point catch.

“Sarratori ends up making a nice play there to Garrett,” Tilley said. “That was a play that they couldn’t cover and we kept throwing it to Garrett. Lyndsley made a great play to take the ball away from the kid on the two-point conversion.”

Southwestern’s Hunter Peterson broke a 41-yard touchdown run, capping an 11-play, 83-yard drive that put the road team up 7-0, with the addition of a Tanner Hoose extra point.

The Raiders ran for more than 200 yards and drove the field into Southwestern territory on each of their four first half drives and their opening second half drive coming up empty.

Sarratori played quarterback for most of the second half, operating primarily out of the shot gun. He led the team with 62 yards on 12 carries. Joe Tripi added 15 carries for 48 yards, Brady Bermingham, 41 yards on four carries, and DiStefano, seven carries for 31 yards.

All have been asked to step with the loss of Alex Smythe over the last three weeks due to the junior having an illness. School officials did seem to believe that Smythe will be able to return when Eden opens the Class B playoffs as the three seed at home against No. 6 Springville on Saturday, Oct. 20.

“Joe, Brady, Kevin (Delia) and I have all stepped up with Alex’s sickness by making some big plays when we need to,” noted DiStefano, who also recorded a sack from his spot at linebacker on defense. “We don’t let Alex being sick bring us down. We know we can still do well without him and we’ll be even better with him.”

Besides the first series, Tilley was happy with the play of his defense. The unit made two final stands in the game as Southwestern had the ball twice in the final 2:42 of the game.

On defense, Brandon Ketterer and sophomore Anthony Cummings shared a sack and Connor Nowak knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage. Also, Kyle Wagner and Devin Shaw added tackles for losses and Bermingham and Delia made a few critical pass breakups in the secondary.

Eden did beat first-round playoff opponent Springville when the two division rivals met during the regular season, but it took three overtimes to do so. After starting the season 0-4, Springville bounced back with three consecutive wins to make the playoffs.

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