All-around effort leads Raiders past Rebels

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Southridge assistant coach Steve Winkler talks with the team following Friday's sectional football game against South Spencer in Huntingburg. Southridge defeated South Spencer 49-7 in their sectional opener to advance to the sectional semifinal at North Knox next Friday. The Raiders were stout on all sides of the ball as their balanced effort helped carry them in the rout. For more photos from the game, click here.


HUNTINGBURG — Southridge senior defensive lineman Ben Hudson wants to be aggressive as possible whenever he’s playing on the front line — whether that’s on defense or on the punt coverage team for special teams.

However, his coaches have told him several times to be patient and not try to block the punt in order to avoid risking an offsides call. But in Friday’s home sectional opener against South Spencer? Well, Hudson decided to take a risk.

“My coach has told me that I’m not allowed to go after punts but I looked toward them on the sideline and I said, ‘I’m going after this one’,” Hudson said with a laugh. “I lined up to the outside and I just watched the ball to make sure I wouldn’t jump offsides — (senior) Wyatt Kramer went up the middle and the person that’s supposed to be protecting the outside stepped in to block Wyatt so I just jumped right in the middle and I got my hand on it.”

Hudson’s blocked punt for a safety was one of just several big plays on the night for the defending sectional champion Raiders as they cruised to a 49-7 victory over the Rebels.

But one of the things that made the punt block so special was the guy who accomplished it. Southridge head coach Scott Buening believes that Hudson has grown so much as a player this season and is happy to see what the senior has been able to accomplish in 2018.

“With Ben, it starts with the tremendous growth he’s made as a young man,” Buening said. “He came into this season and decided he wanted to be a part of our team and he truly has been. He’s worked hard, the kids have rallied behind him and when they buy into a young man, I’m going to buy into him too. The punt block play he made was a heck of a play and we need him to keep doing those things.”

Hudson agrees with Buening that he does believe he’s made a ton of growth for his senior season. It was something that he wanted to make sure of for his final year of high school football.

“I think I’ve learned a lot from our defensive line coaches,” Hudson said. “I spend a lot of time with those guys and they’ve just continued to work with me and help me get better every week.”

One of the main goals that Buening preaches to his Southridge football team is to get better each and every week and judging off of the Raiders (7-3) fast start on Friday night, they took that message to heart.

Southridge got on the board at the 8:54 mark in the first quarter as quarterback Colson Montgomery scrambled toward the left sideline and broke free for a 15-yard touchdown to make it 7-0. On their ensuing drive, the Raiders scored once again as senior running back Tucker Schank used some misdirection to cut loose and score a 14-yard touchdown to make it a 14-0 lead.

The Raiders went three-for-three on their first three drives of the game as once again, Montgomery broke free on a 10-yard scramble to give Southridge a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Montgomery said the quick start was a big key for the Raiders — even though he admits that he himself may have had a little pregame jitters before kickoff.

“For us, when our team gets ahead early that’s a big plus for us. Our momentum just keeps us going and we usually don’t have any brain lapses,” Montgomery said. “There were little gameday nerves for me like there always are but I think my experience from playing other sports like baseball and basketball helped me out in the long run — it’s like I was nervous, but at the same time I wasn’t.”

Following Hudson’s punt block for a safety that made it 23-0 early in the second quarter, Schank quickly put the Raiders up 30-0 with 9:54 to play in the first half with a 24-yard touchdown.

Southridge's Ben Hudson blocks a punt from South Spencer's Brenden Moore to score a safety during Friday's sectional football game in Huntingburg. Hudson feels that he's grown a lot as a player during his senior season and made several big plays on the defensive side of the ball in addition to his blocked punt. For more photos from the game, click here.

Southridge ended up scoring one more time in the first half following a bad punt by South Spencer that gave Southridge great field position. Junior Cole Calvert punched it in for a 5-yard touchdown to put the Raiders ahead 36-0 at the break and from there on out, Southridge cruised to the victory.

The Raiders added 13 more points in the second half as Schank busted out a 65-yard touchdown run to make it 42-0 in the third quarter while Cort Gerber wrapped up the scoring for Southridge with a 7-yard run that made it 49-0. South Spencer did get on the board with 5:10 remaining in the game as Brenden Moore’s 29-yard touchdown ensured that the Rebels didn’t get shutout.

Buening was impressed with the Raiders performance on all three sides of the ball in the victory — offense (49 points, scored on their first four offensive possessions), defense (didn’t allow a first down in the first half) and special teams (blocked punt for a safety).

“I really hadn’t felt like we had put together a good 48 minutes in a while and that was a goal of ours because this time of year you have to have all three phases going,” Buening said. “We gave up one decent return but other than that on a rainy night like this and not turning the football over, I’m happy with how our guys handled the weather.”

With the victory, Southridge will move on to face North Knox (5-5) in the sectional semifinal at Bicknell next Friday. In order to enjoy another lengthy postseason, Buening believes the Raiders just need to continue to sharpen their strengths and continue to make improvements on the little things.

“For us, it’s kind of just back to the process and I know that’s kind of cliche but we have to continue to improve moving forward,” Buening said. “We know that every week here on out is going to get a little bit tougher.”

Montgomery added: “Like coach (Buening) always says, we need to have good practice habits because that’s what prepared us for this game. Coach always says that a good practice equals good results.”

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