With chilly temperatures and snowflakes falling, there wasn’t a better setting for a gridiron slobber-knocker between two evenly matched teams in Wood River and Canyon Ridge.
Both teams battled back and forth, but in the end, it all came down to one big play as Canyon Ridge squeaked by Wood River, 6-0.
Canyon Ridge scored the lone touchdown on a 58-yard scamper from Edgar Ramirez. At the six-minute mark, Ramirez took the hand-off and busted through a barrage of missed tackles and took the ball down the sideline for the score.
Wood River (2-6, 1-4) was riding the wave of Senior Night on Friday evening as Canyon Ridge (3-6, 2-3) played spoiler.
“Given the injuries, our senior class held it together,” coach Kevin Stilling said.
Wood River was without its senior fullback K.J. Savaria, who suffered an injury against Jerome.
“I feel bad for K.J.,” Stilling said. “He was a solid offensive performer. We missed his carries.”
Wood River had averaged nearly seven injured players per game, and had only 11 of the 22 opening-day starters healthy all year.
As the game was within reach for Wood River, penalties and turnovers dismantled much of its momentum.
The Wolverines kept hurting themselves as the game waned. The home team couldn’t keep control of the ball as they turned the ball over five times.
“Friday happened a lot this year,” said Stilling. “When we get momentum going, turnovers happen.”
Wood River also committed nine penalties. Four of those penalties came in the fourth quarter.
Junior Gus Conrad was the stud for the night for the Wolverines. He ran the ball 22 times for 105 yards while averaging 4.7 yards a carry.Conrad also blocked the PAT after Canyon Ridge’s score. Friday night’s game was played for pride, with Canyon Ridge taking fourth and Wood River taking fifth in the Great Basin Conference.
It was a grind for both offenses that specialize in ground attacks. Not much passing here, just old-fashioned football. In fact, there was only one pass completion in Wood River’s three attempts. Wood River’s Tommy Bailey completed a pass to Hayden Thayer for a 10-yard gain.
Bailey also threw two interceptions in the game.
Wood River and Canyon Ridge’s stats were almost identical. Wood River rushed for 154 yards on 48 carries, while Canyon Ridge rushed for 153 yards on 38 carries.
The Wolverines ate up over six minutes on the clock on their ensuing possession and wore down the River Hawks. On the verge of scoring and taking the lead, the Wolverines turned the ball over.
Momentum was gaining in the drive; however, Canyon Ridge’s Tyler Turner penetrated Wood River’s offensive line and tackled Gus Conrad as he received the hand-off from quarterback Thayer. The ball popped loose and the River Hawks recovered.
Wood River then stalled Canyon Ridge and forced it to punt. Both teams then exchanged three-and-outs and began punting the ball throughout the remaining minutes of the second quarter.
Frustration mounted as neither team was able to find a way to the end zone. The game was getting physical with a lot of shoving matches that ensued after the whistle was blown.
The Wolverines could only rely on what they knew best: running the football and playing stout defense.
Suspense filled as the minutes ticked down. Wood River kept holding Canyon Ridge in its own territory. Wood River’s defense was impressive. However, Wood River’s offense couldn’t move the ball quick enough.
Wood River suddenly moved to its passing game and instantly threw an interception.
Wood River’s defense immediately regained the ball for one last time for the Wolverine offense.
Wood River bustled and hurried to get the ball downfield as quickly as possible. Bailey dropped back to pass, and as the seconds ticked away, the pass was intercepted, again.
“I’d like to give our kids a lot of credit,” said Stilling.
Notable seniors who played hard and took home their last bruises for their high school careers were: Ben Williams, Drew Barsch, Trevor Brand, Tommy Bailey, Jared Anderson, Nick Schell, Joe McGonigal, Ian Keys, Buck Horn, Karel Kaiser, Wyatt Griffith, Chris Carnes and David Soares.