After resistance, Raiders find their way

Photos By Olivia Corya/The Herald
Southridge’s Connor Craig scanned the Forest Park defense Friday night at Ferdinand, where the Raiders ran for 334 yards and raced to a 41-0 victory in a tussle between county rivals. Craig was one of four Raiders to rush for more than 50 yards. For a gallery of photos, click here.

Herald Sports Writer

FERDINAND — Kelly Murphy sounded like anything other than a coach who just witnessed his team play near flawless football all night.

There was just one problem: Southridge’s 41-0 handling of county and Pocket Athletic Conference rival Forest Park on Friday night at Ranger Field possessed too familiar of a feeling.

Southridge (2-1, 1-0) racked up 394 offensive yards and held Forest Park to 42 rushing yards on 36 carries. The Raiders scored in every quarter and consistently pierced through the Ranger offensive line to create havoc in the backfield.

Murphy saw all this. And he gave his guys the praise they earned. But with Southridge graduate Ross Fuhs on the other sideline leading Forest Park (0-3, 0-2), Murphy shelved the high-octane comments he easily could have showed after such a convincing performance from his team.

“I thought we withstood their emotional high there at the beginning of the game,” Murphy said. “I thought we withstood that well, came back and had a couple series where we were kind of stymied and we didn’t move the ball quite like we wanted to. But they were excited, fired up and we weren’t. We’ve just got to start coming out faster, but we withstood that, we didn’t panic. That’s what I thought was probably the best.”

Fuhs was similarly happy, final score aside, because of an elevated level of effort.
“I definitely think we’re headed in the right direction, made a lot of positives, played a lot harder, played a lot more physical tonight,” Fuhs said. “We probably took the most positives out of this game than any thus far, so I think that’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

After punting on their first two drives, the Raiders kickstarted the scoring when Daniel Perez recorded the first of his two scores from 2 yards out late in the first quarter. Southridge quarterback Jake Hildebranski scooted in from 21 yards on a bootleg in the second quarter and Perez recorded his other score earlier in the period.

The Raiders led 20-0 at halftime, boosted the advantage with Brad Haase’s 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and finished the scoring with Hildebranski’s 13-yard strike to Cody Thompson and Michael Boyd’s 75-yard burst with a little more than two minutes left in the game.

“Last week was a tough loss and we didn’t want this week to be a letdown,” Perez said, referencing Southridge’s loss to Class 4A No. 9 Jasper. “We wanted to come out here and be fired up and put points on the board and play hard.”

“This was a big confidence boost,” Hildebranski added. “After starting out the first two games a little shaky like that, I really needed a game like this to get it going for the rest of the year.”

Forest Park’s Victor Weyer, center, blocked the progress of Southridge’s Aidan Michel as Ranger quarterback Trent Bayer prepared to deliver a handoff.

Forest Park produced its most promising drive midway through the third quarter. Josh Voegerl, who topped the Rangers with 48 rushing yards on eight carries, ripped off runs of 19, 14 and 14 yards, helping Forest Park reach Southridge’s 15-yard line.
But on the next play, Southridge senior lineman Brandon King backed up Forest Park five yards with a tackle for loss, and a 37-yard field goal attempt fell short.

Not the desired result for the Rangers. But that isn’t what stood out to their coach.

“It’s tough when you’re down 27-0 and you’re getting physically wore down, mentally wore down,” Fuhs said. “They stayed with it, that’s what we’ve been preaching. Things aren’t always going to go well, but you’ve got to stay with it and they did tonight, and I think that was probably the most impressive thing: They just kept plugging away.”

Both Hildebranski and Forest Park quarterback Trent Bayer completed seven passes. Hildebranski connected with six receivers and looked especially sharp as the Raiders threw the ball five times on the drive that ended with Thompson’s touchdown. Earlier in the game, Hildebranski rolled to his right and lofted a pass over a Ranger defender, completing an 8-yard pass to Perez on fourth-and-4. On the next play, he juked a defender near the line of scrimmage, then ran untouched for his score.

Murphy was pleased with Hildebranski’s passing and the offensive line’s ability to protect its quarterback and block well for Southridge’s stable of running backs.

Defensively, the Raiders weren’t waiting for someone else to make a play, as was the case last week against Jasper, Murphy said.

As for the disparity between Fuhs’ expectations for his team and the results he’s had so far, Murphy can relate like few others. The Raider coach finished 0-10 in this first season at Wood Memorial. Since he arrived at Southridge, Murphy has led the Raiders to three seasons of 10-plus wins. Since his first season in 2005, they’ve never had a losing record.

Murphy worked hard. Results followed. He expects the same to happen for Fuhs.

“Right now they’re in a tough stretch,” Murphy said of the Rangers and Fuhs. “I know exactly where he’s at. The first year I ever coached, 23 years old, we went 0-10. But these kids played hard and they have a toughness about them that they haven’t had for a while and that’s all attributed to Ross.

“He’s a great man and he’s teaching them great things over here. I know he is, and I couldn’t be happier to be a mentor to Ross and what he’s done.”

Contact John Patishnock at


Sept. 7 — at North Posey, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Sept. 14 — SOUTH SPENCER, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 — at Tell City, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Sept. 28 — HERITAGE HILLS, 8 p.m.
Oct. 5 — at Pike Central, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 — at Gibson Southern, 7:30 p.m. EDT

Sept. 7 — at Crawford County, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 — at Pike Central, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 — NORTH POSEY, 8 p.m.
Sept. 28 — at South Spencer, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Oct. 5 — at Heritage Hills, 8 p.m. EDT
Oct. 12 — TELL CITY, 8 p.m.

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