Father Gabriel Richard loses 42-14 at Almont in Division 5 district final
ALMONT -- A shaky start never got much better for the Father Gabriel Richard football team on Friday night.
The Fighting Irish bobbled the opening kickoff and nearly snapped the ball through the end zone on their first play from scrimmage. Before the 42-14 loss to Almont was over, the Raiders took a 35-0 lead and played with a running clock.
Gabriel Richard coach Brian Lemons noted his players kept fighting during the Division 5 district title game, something he was extremely happy with.
“I was proud of them, they never quit," Lemons said. "Once that running clock hits a lot of team would have stopped playing. Our guys didn’t do that."
Gabriel Richard got its act together and moved the ball after those early miscues, but failed to take advantage of some mismatches. Almont (10-1) adjusted and the Irish (8-3) couldn’t get on track.
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“We had some sets that put them at a disadvantage, and they made some adjustments to counter that,” Lemons said.
In spite of the struggles on offense, the defense kept the Irish in it as long as they could. The Raiders didn’t score until the 11:17 mark of the second quarter. However, when Irish quarterback Joe Kendzicky threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown on the ensuing drive, all the momentum shifted to Almont.
Lemons said he was still happy with the way his junior quarterback handled the pressure, saying he struggled just like most young quarterbacks do. Kendzicky finished the game 17 of 29 passing for 168 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Because of the offense’s inability to move the ball, Almont was able to wear down the Irish defense and take a 21-0 lead into the half. That lead would be 35-0 after three quarters.
Raiders junior running back Pat Finn ran for 94 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns. He also returned an interception for a score.
With only eight returning seniors to start the season, Lemons was surprised that this team reached a district final. After the loss, Lemons didn't hesitate to say that the game was a teaching tool for the returning squad.
“I’ll use this and the experiences of the seniors for next year,” he said.