Raiders not perfect, just dominant, victorious

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Southridge’s Tucker Schank evaded a tackle from Linton’s Dylan Smith to score Southridge’s second touchdown in the first half of the Friday evening game in Huntingburg. Southridge defeated Linton 35-7 as Schank finished with two rushing touchdowns in the victory. For more photos from the game, click here.


HUNTINGBURG — Southridge coach Scott Buening is realistic enough to know he can’t expect perfection from his football team — but that doesn’t mean he’s given up on working toward a game in which his Raiders come close to perfection.

After all, the Raiders weren’t perfect a year ago, losing a couple of regular-season games, but they were perfect enough to win six postseason games en route to the school’s first state championship. So while perfection may be elusive, as long as Southridge continues to win, that may keep Buening happy.

“There is no such thing as perfect play, we’re just trying to get perfect effort every time, and take the mistakes we make and try to make up for them with great effort,” Buening said after the No. 1-ranked Raiders notched a 35-7 win Friday night over Linton to start the season. It was the third consecutive victory for the Raiders over the Miners after a pair of wins last season.

While the Southridge offense shined with 381 total yards unofficially, and the defense limited the Miners to 137 yards, it was turnovers that doomed Linton and propelled the Raiders.

“There’s really only two stats that matter to us — that’s turnovers and big plays,” Buening said. “We were able to get a couple of key turnovers, and we capitalized on those turnovers.”

Linton fumbled the ball four times on the night, losing three to the host Raiders. The first came in Southridge’s first series. After the Miner defense forced the Raiders to punt after gaining only six yards on three plays, Linton coughed up the ball on the return at midfield to put Southridge back in business. Nine plays and 59 yards later, Senior running back Tucker Schank scampered into the end zone on a 10-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Colson Montgomery to give the Raiders their first points with 3:52 left in the opening quarter. Jeovany Dubon’s PAT made it a 7-0 count.

Southridge initiated a methodical march for a second touchdown to close out the first frame, then Schank found paydirt again from seven yards 6:55 before halftime to stake the Raiders to a 14-0 advantage after Dubon’s kick.

A personal foul on the scoring play had the Raiders kicking from their own 25, and the Miners looked to have their best start fielding the kick at their 25 yard line. But after a one-yard return, some big hits forced another fumble that sophomore lineman Leyton Lauderdale pounced on.

Twenty seconds later, Schank raced 26 yards untouched for his third trip to the end zone, and Dubon’s PAT had Southridge in the driver’s seat at 21-0.

Southridge’s Conner Oxley, left, joked around with teammate Matt Gentry during the second half of the Friday evening game against Linton. Southridge got things going early and rolled to victory to improve to 4-0 against Linton all-time. For more photos from the game, click here.

After Linton boomed a 50-yard punt to pin the Raiders back at their own 15 yard line, the Raiders lit up the Miners with big play after big play. Junior running back Cole Calvert started the avalanche — or, rather the Linton defense was its own undoing — when the Miners were flagged for a facemask penalty in which Calvert’s helmet was ripped completely off. After the 15-yard penalty, Schank followed with a 12-yard run, Calvert tacked on four more yards and Montgomery hooked up with senior running back Seth Nunamaker on a 54-yard bomb for a touchdown with 3:12 showing before intermission. Dubon’s kick split the uprights for a 28-0 cushion.

The Raiders added their final points of the night with 3:25 remaining in the third period when Montgomery capped a 10-play, 50-yard drive with an 18-yard run up the middle. Dubon’s fifth successful PAT — along with Linton’s stymied offense — looked to close out the scoring for a Southridge shutout.

“The goal is always to throw a shutout,” Buening admitted. “I’m sure that was [Linton’s] goal, too.”

But when Southridge recovered a third Linton fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter, Linton’s fate was a foregone conclusion.

The Miners didn’t throw in the towel, however. On the first play of Linton’s next possession, junior running back Luke Lannan took off on a 57-yard scoring jaunt to erase the goose egg with 5:37 to go.

From there, the biggest play for the remainder of the game was a 59-yard punt by sophomore kicker Chase Taylor that appeared to be rolling into the end zone for a touchback ... until a Linton player touched the ball inside the 1 yard line.

“There’s still a lot of coaching to do and a lot of things to clean up, but when you play a team like Linton, you don’t get away with mistakes — they’re going to make you pay for those,” Buening observed. “We get a lot of value out of playing these guys, and we need that so we can get better and move forward.

“We left a couple of plays on the field where we had opportunities to make some big plays — it’s gonna happen in the first game,” Buening said. “Hopefully we can take the mistakes we made tonight and fix ‘em and get ready for next week.”

The Raiders host cross-county rival Jasper at 7:30 p.m. Friday, looking to avenge a 28-21 setback to the Wildcats a year ago as one of only two losses for Southridge. Jasper suffered a 30-7 defeat Friday night to No. 1-ranked and defending 3A state champion Evansville Memorial.

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