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By Mary Schwanke
On Friday, October 8, the North Shelby Raiders faced the #1 ranked Stanberry Bulldogs, beating them in a very close battle. Both sides put up a tough fight.
North Shelby Coach David Stuckey explained how preparing for this game was relatively the same as usual.
“Honestly, we didn’t prepare any differently. We go out and play our style of football every week. We work hard. We respect all of our opponents. We came out and decided to set a tone. We didn’t change anything. We control our own destiny,” said Stuckey.
The first quarter of the game yielded no points for either team. Both teams punted their first possessions on the fourth down. The Raiders only allowed the Bulldogs to make minimal gains. The Bulldogs proceeded likewise.
The first nine minutes of the second quarter went on relatively the same, with no scores and several penalties. Then, Stanberry’s Austin Schwebach threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to his twin brother, Tyler Schwebach. The Bulldogs kicked a successful field goal, making the score 7-0 with 2:57 left in the half.
The Raiders bounced back. Cale Stoneburner ran 25 yards for a touchdown a minute later. The conversion was no good. The score was 7-6 at halftime with NS down by one.
When play resumed, Robert Uhlmeyer rushed 34 yards and the Raiders made their way nine yards from the end zone. However, Stoneburner was sacked on 4th and goal.
Austin Schwebach kept the football and ran 47 yards for a first down. He then scored a touchdown at 6:20. Justin Lunsford blocked the field goal, a fundamental play in the end. The score read 13-6.
The Raiders were forced backward on offense by several flags and tight Bulldog defense. Brendyn McDaniel punted the ball 58 yards. The Bulldogs’ possession was also marked by several flags and Raider tackles. They had to punt as well.
The Raiders started the final quarter of the game on offense. They had to score eight points to win. Stoneburner and Lunsford both ran for first downs, nine yards from the goal line, (just like in the previous quarter). Stoneburner passed the ball to Kyle Smith who resided in the end zone. This was Smith’s first game back since being injured at Norborne a month ago. Lunsford powered through the Bulldogs, securing two more points for the Raiders. It was just what they needed. North Shelby had the lead, 14-13, with 8:41 left in the game.
The defensive battle raged on. NS forced Stanberry to turn over on downs. Lunsford rushed 30 yards making it first and goal for the Raiders. Stoneburner kept the ball and was taken down just two yards away from the goal line. Then the snap was fumbled. The Raiders committed a false start. Desperate to get the ball back, the Bulldogs caused the NS to turn the ball over far from where it had once been.
This was the Bulldog’s last chance. Raider defense made several stops, but the Bulldogs pulled through with two first downs. They began attempting to throw their way into the end zone, but with seven seconds left in the game, McDaniel intercepted a pass which had gone too close to the opponent’s end zone for comfort.
It was over. Stoneburner took a knee, ending the game. No. 5 ranked North Shelby had taken down #1 ranked Stanberry. That one-point margin was a result of many key factors. Raider fans who had driven three hours to support their boys were ecstatic. A fireworks show lit up the sky.
Coach Stuckey praised his team and all of their hard work. “You have to give it to the defense. The physicality of the defense really crunched down. Obviously the two-point conversion down there was huge. It proved to be the winning margin. The offensive and defensive line took control in the second half.
“I can’t say enough about that. They took those big kids out of the game and made it ours. I’m proud of them for taking the ball and getting it effectively in the end zone,” said Stuckey.
Coach Stuckey is also glad to have Kyle Smith returning to the field.
“Kyle brings another element to the game. He caught a couple passes on offense. On the defensive side, he laid a couple nice licks, getting the defense wound up from the get-go,” Stuckey added.
“It felt great to be back with the boys,” said Smith during the fireworks show.
“We played a heck of a game against a very physical, very good team. We forced a lot of changes of possession and held a very high-scoring team to 13 points,” said Smith.
This game was full of leadership. Smith praised his fellow teammates.
“Dylan McEwen led the charge on the offensive line pretty well. Luke Schwanke was a pretty good leader on the defensive line as well,” said Smith.
The Raiders are set to take on another tough team this week. The home game will be played against the No. 9 ranked Orrick Bearcats.