If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By Mary Schwanke
“We’re going into this just like the others: one foot in front of the other,” said North Shelby head coach David Stuckey, nine hours before winning the District 2 Eight-Man championship 60-12 on Friday, November 19.
This is the first time the NS football program has won a District Title since 2008.
The Raiders had gone undefeated, beating every team they played this season by an average of 43 points.
The seniors and juniors of North Shelby football had been to the district championship twice in a row, (2019, 2020) but lost to Southwest Livingston both times.
“Falling short sophomore and junior year in the district championship to the same team, and not by very much, has really motivated all of us to get in the weight room and to be the very best team we can be,” said senior Cale Stoneburner.
The Raiders played the St. Paul Lutheran Saints. NS started the game on defense, but just over a minute later, the Saints punted the ball to the 35-yard line after only managing to advance three yards. The Raiders took over.
Stoneburner broke free of the Saints’ defense right away, thanks to the work put in by NS offensive linemen. He scored a 45-yard touchdown. Carson Orr’s two-point conversion was good, and the score was 8-0.
Raider defense didn’t allow the Saints a first down. Lutheran turned over at the 39-yard line. Justin Lunsford picked up 31 yards for the Raiders during several plays. At 1st and inches, Stoneburner got into the end zone for a touchdown. Lunsford’s conversion was good.
The Saints made no gain on their 1st down. They fumbled their second down and Lunsford recovered the ball. The Raiders took over at their own 27. A minute later, Stoneburner ran the ball across the goal line again. The Raiders were leading the Saints 24-0 with 6:49 left in the first quarter.
At 3rd and 10 for the Saints, Brendyn McDaniel intercepted a pass. He rushed for 31 yards, bringing the Raiders 19 yards from another six points. On the Raiders’ fourth down, Stoneburner handed the ball off to Lunsford, who then tossed it the other direction to Orr. Orr took it into the end zone, and the score became 30-0.
The Saints got back at the Raiders. A helmet-to-helmet personal foul on NS followed by an encroachment penalty plagued the defense. Christian Bobzin threw a deep pass to Jauden Maggert, resulting in a 40-yard touchdown for Lutheran.
Back on offense, the Raiders moved fast. Lunsford and Stoneburner rushed the ball down the field. With about 30 seconds left in the quarter, Lunsford scored for the Raiders. NS led 38-6.
On the Saints’ 1st down, Luke Schwanke deflected a pass which was intercepted by Kyle Smith. He was brought down at the Raiders’ 29. NS advanced to the 13-yard line before the long first quarter finally came to an end.
Almost right off the bat in the second quarter, Stoneburner scored yet again. Amos Fredrickson stopped the Saints’ kick return quickly, leaving the offense 57 yards from their end zone. Isaac Long achieved a first down for Lutheran. At 3rd and 10, Orr swatted a pass, just like Schwanke had not long before. Robert Uhlmeyer fielded it and ran 40 yards.
North Shelby set up at their 24-yard line. Noah Greenwell carried the ball 22 yards. A fumble on the Raiders resulted in a loss of five. Then a false start caused another five yards to be lost. Greenwell and Orr both gained back three yards, but at 4th and 8, NS called a time out. Fresh out of the huddle, Greenwell scored a touchdown and two-point conversion. The scoreboard read 52-6 with 6:31 left on the clock.
The Saints turned over on downs. Greenwell achieved a 16-yard 1st down for NS, followed by another six points from Stoneburner and two more from Orr to complement.
Lutheran advanced 42 yards over the course of their next possession but fumbled the ball at the 16-yard line. It was recovered by Riley Greening. On offense, NS’s ball got loose. It was recovered by Lutheran for a scoop-and-score, just before the end of the first half.
The second half was a running clock, played by North Shelby’s JV for the majority of the time. Neither team scored in the second half. JD Rich and Jade Daniel both played quarterback for the Raiders. Freshman Oren Vanskike sacked Lutheran’s quarterback and the North Shelby student section chanted “yes! yes! yes!,” a celebratory cheer coined by Vanskike himself every time the Raiders scored this season.
The clock ran out and fans and football players alike shouted “yes! yes! yes!” in glee as they received the title of 2021 District Champions.
“My class has been working for this for the last four years. We’ve been wanting to win in this position for a long time,” said senior Landon Bender. “It feels like we’ve climbed a mountain and have finally hit the peak of it. We know there’s still more work to do and we’re still going up.”
Stoneburner commented on the Raiders’ improvement over the season.
“Coach talks a lot about being three plays better every game. The first game, we had a lot of below-average plays,” Stoneburner said, “Getting three plays better every week has led every player to being 36 plays better. Working in the off-season and lifting in the summer has really helped us come to this point.”
“Us just being a team together has led up to this,” said senior Noah Greenwell. “We all know that when everyone steps on the field, they’re gonna work their hardest. Even when we mess up, we know what we did wrong, and we correct it.”
The Raiders have made it to the State Semifinals. They will play Worth County on Friday, November 26 at 2 p.m. Worth County is also undefeated on their season. This game is spoken of to be the Raiders’ toughest match-up yet. The Raiders will spend the week getting three plays better and prepare to play ball like they always do: by putting one foot in front of the other.