The Raiders won the second half, but they were unable to erase an early deficit on the way to a 19-12 home loss to Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted in their first game of the season on Thursday, Aug. 30.
Still, the coaching staff was able to point to a number of good things coming out of a game that featured 20 new starters out of 22 players on both sides of the ball for the Raiders.
After a pair of second quarter touchdowns on one-yard runs put the Lakers up 12-0 at halftime, the Raiders responded on a eight-yard scamper by senior Jeff Worm that cut the lead to 12-6 in the third quarter.
The Lakers extended that lead on a 55-yard run later in the quarter and converted the kick to gain a 19-6 advantage before Central scored once more on a 15-yard pass from Isaac Hormann to Tom Messner in the fourth quarter.
While the Raiders didn’t quite match HLWW where it mattered, they did have a number of statistical advantages that could point to success in the future.
For instance, Central controlled the ball for the majority of the game, running 62 offensive plays to just 41 for the Lakers. The Raiders also had an edge in total offense, 279 yards to 241.
Hormann, the team’s new sophomore quarterback, was active in the pocket, throwing a total of 27 times and completing 14 passes to six different players for 150 total yards and one touchdown while giving up two interceptions.
Senior tight end Luke Marschall was the team’s leading receiver with four catches for 55 yards, and Messner was close behind with four catches for 52 yards. Junior receiver Casey Clemensen had three grabs for 16 yards, sophomore running back Noah Peterson had one catch for 16 yards, senior tight end Nicholas Schwendeman had one catch for four yards and Worm caught one ball for seven yards.
On the ground, Peterson ran 25 times for 123 yards, while Worm carried five times for 16 yards. In terms of total yardage, HLWW did outgain Central 215 ground yards to 129.
Central’s inexperience was most evident in the first half, when penalties short-circuited several drives. In all, the Raiders had nine penalties for 54 yards, while the Lakers committed seven penalties for 57 yards.
“First game jitters got the best of us in the first half,” said Raiders head coach Paul Henn. “The kids this week really played hard but were unable to overcome the penalties we made on offense that stalled drives.”
Defensively, Clemensen had a big game in the secondary, intercepting two passes and making six solo tackles.
Linebacker Trevor Groschen also had six solo tackles, and Mike Mullen added five solo tackles. Defensive tackle Sam Newbloom led the team with two sacks, and Jordan Stevens also had a sack.
“All in all, lots of positives for a group that included 20 kids starting for the first time,” said Henn. “We really have to eliminate the mistakes that have nothing to do with football ability to compete and be successful. This will come as we gain game experience!”
The Raiders open their conference season this Friday, Sept. 7 at LeSueur-Henderson.