September 28, 2021 by Kevin Riordan
Of course this longstanding rivalry would be settled in the final minutes as the 8-6 score reflected the defensive battle that took place. The 8th grade Raiders proved that practice & conditioning during the week pays off on Sundays as the Raiders defense summoned every ounce of energy they had to stop the Bridgewater Badgers late in the 4th quarter where it matters most to beat the Badgers.
Early on this game was fought in the trenches with defensive linemen Matt Griffin, Andrew Sullivan, Cavan Nicholas, Charlie Shape, JT Reale and Mac Corey shutting down the Badgers first drive to force a turnover on downs. Equally matched the Badgers defense stuffed QB Jake Varholak on a sweep and forced a turnover on downs. The Raiders defensive effort led by LB’s Cam McKenna, Cavan Nicholas and Jake Varholak produced tackles for loss to end the scoreless first quarter.
In the 2nd quarter the Badgers began to gain momentum with their running game when Chase Beighley, Ian Smith and Aedan Milligan made tackles to force a critical 3rd down. The Badgers dared to test the Raiders secondary and threw a deep pass into the end zone where safety Deacon Evriviades made a spectacular leaping interception to kill the Badgers potential scoring drive. QB Jake Varholak operating out of the shotgun ran 18 yards for a first down behind the O-Line blocks of Griffin, Sullivan, Leopold Kuehberger, Mac Corey and Shape but the Badgers defense eventually forced the Raiders to punt. On defense CB Ian Smith and Charlie Shape made jarring tackles and then Sullivan shot the gap to tackle the RB and thwart the drive for a 0-0 stalemate at the half.
The second half began with an explosive return by Drew St Pierre who received the kickoff, fumbled but recovered but recovered it to then sprint 71 yards down the sidelines for the touchdown. QB Varholak followed the blocks of Kuehberger and Corey punching it in for the critical 2 point conversion to put the Raiders in front 8-0. On the ensuing kickoff Mark Donlan stuffed the returner deep in Badger territory. After successive Badger first downs on the ground and facing a 3rd down the Badgers took to the air where Deacon Evriviades stepped in front of the receiver and made his second interception to kill the Badger drive. The Raiders began a drive with back to back first downs but stalled at the hands of the Badger defense to end the third quarter.
In the 4th quarter the Raiders defense would bend but never break. Chase Beighley, Sullivan and Shape and JT Reale made major tackles but with only 2 minutes remaining in the game Bridgewater managed to score a rushing TD. Deciding to go for 2 points to tie the game, a swarm of Raider tacklers led by Cam McKenna and Cavan Nicholas and Eli Melendes stuffed the RB short of the goal line to make the score 8-6. A flubbed kickoff gave the Raiders excellent field position at the Badger 40 yard line where QB Varholak and RB St Pierre managed to grind out the clock to preserve a hard fought 8-6 victory and remain unbeaten. The Raiders travel to Marshfield next Sunday at 11:30am