There were 10,000 fans in the RCA Dome, cheering for their respective teams. The crowd was on a roller coaster ride, living and dying with every score.
Matt Lindsay, the veteran Luers Varsity football coach had put together an impressive 145-60 record over the past 16 years. He had 20 seniors on this year’s football team and they had compiled an 11-3 record. Two of their three losses came from Snider and Bishop Dwenger who were also state finalists.
In the first half, Jhormy Martinez, of Bishop Luers had scored on a 16 yard screen pass, Patrick Wyss scored on a 31 yard pass from quarterback Eric Smith and Martinez scored on a two yard run, giving Luers a 19-12 lead going into the locker room.
Brad Hanner coached the Southridge Raiders. They were 12-2 on the year. Coach Hanner had compiled a 61-36 record over 9 years of coaching.
Luers came out in the second half and put together an impressive drive. It ended in another touchdown, but Luers was called for holding and the touchdown was called back. They were forced to settle for a Jason Egts 25 yard field goal making it 22-12 in favor of the boys in black. Luers then intercepted an errant Southridge pass. Quarterback Eric Smith of Luers passed to sophomore receiver Brandon Davis for a 39 yard touchdown pass, making it 29-12.
The Luers crowd let out a collective sigh of relief, as it looked as if Southridge was done for. Both teams had been giving it all they had and Luers had a comfortable 17-point lead. The Raiders were clearly knocked down and with less than a quarter to go it was all Luers.
Then, as sometimes happens in State championship games, Southridge caught their second wind. They scored a field goal, then intercepted the football on a long pass play, and proceeded to go in for a touchdown. Southridge held Luers to a three and out and then blocked a Luers punt and scored again. They were now only 2 points down 29-27.
Anyone in the stands that had doubts about the determination and quality of the players on the Southridge side of the ball was forced to rethink the situation. Momentum had swung over to Southridge. Luers desperately needed to control the ball and run out the clock.
Luers found themselves on the Southridge 34-yard line with a 3rd and four situation. The call went to Jhormy Martinez. Jhormy had been the Luers “go-to” guy all day, having gained 148 yards on 32 carries. He came around the left end, digging for all he was worth, trying to pick up just four yards. He was met with equal resistance from the Southridge defenders who stripped him of the ball two yards shy of the first down.
It’s situations like these that must give coaches grey hair. All the planning, all the practices, and all the hard work that had gone into this football season now bounced it’s way along the sideline. The ball could have rolled out of bounds. It could have been picked up by Southridge, keeping their hopes alive for a State Championship, but it didn’t. Senior fullback, Brian Kurtz, of the Bishop Luers Knights picked it up. Brian ran the final 28 yards and sealed the victory.
After a field goal by Southridge, Luers Jason Egts recovered an on-side kick, allowing Luers to run out the clock. Final score, Luers 36, Southridge 30.
There were some familiar names on the Bishop Luers rooster for this year’s championship run. Brad Millhouse, Eric Kleber, Tony Kleber, Sergio Trevino, Tony Braun, Nick Foltz, Corey Loubier, Jared Gigli, Brian Stalter and Mike LaMaster. These ten players were previously students at St. Therese School, here in Waynedale.
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