St. Henry survives Marion Pleasant in match-up of small school powers

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St. Henry 17, Pleasant 14

Week 1 victories are often about pure survival, just ask St. Henry and coach Jeff Starkey. The Redskins survived Saturday against Marion Pleasant for a 17-14 win, despite three turnovers and a failed fake punt. It was the fourth consecutive win for St. Henry over Marion Pleasant since 2004. The Redskins beat the Spartans twice last year.


ST. HENRY – Week 1 victories are often about pure survival, just ask St. Henry and coach Jeff Starkey.

The Redskins survived Saturday against Marion Pleasant for a 17-14 win, despite three turnovers and a failed fake punt. Most of the game was spent in St. Henry territory, but the Redskin defense put up a red wall and held the Spartans out of the end zone on numerous occasions.

It was the fourth consecutive win for St. Henry over Marion Pleasant since 2004. The Redskins beat the Spartans twice last year.

“I still don’t know what kind of football team we are going to be,” Starkey said. “But I do know we battled out there tonight. Our team had a left guard and wide receiver that played last season and that was it. I think the neat thing about the game was we made mistakes, but you could see us grow.”

In typical opener fashion, both teams struggled with execution and both saw scoring opportunities wasted.

The first of those came for Marion Pleasant. After St. Henry forced a punt, the Skins returner put the ball on the ground and Marion fell on it, setting up shop on the St. Henry 20-yardline.

However, the Skins defense held on fourth and two, which proved a critical moment in the game.

That was how most of the first half went, defense, mistakes and very few points. The only points came on a 17-yard field by St. Henry early in the second quarter.

The biggest problem for both squads offensively was the inability to run the football. Marion Pleasant was held to under 30 yards rushing in the first half and St. Henry faced the same fate. It was clear that whoever was going to win this game would have to do it through the air.

“Defensively we did a great job putting a plan together,” Marion Pleasant head coach  Chris Kubbs said. “Offensively I don’t know, St. Henry is just tough on the run.”

In the third quarter very little changed. Both teams struggled for offense and the defensives continued to dominate. But, when they headed into the final 12 minutes of play that changed and the points started to came.

For the Spartans it all began with special teams. Pleasant’s Joel Swaney snatched a punt at his own 40-yard line, weaved left and then back right and found daylight on the sidelines. From there his speed took over and he outraced a gang of Skins tacklers for six points. The extra point gave Pleasant a very brief 7-3 advantage. 

It was brief because on the next series the St. Henry offense scored its first touchdown of the season. The score came from halfback Neil Schwieterman who turned a screen pass into a 40-yard touchdown, giving the lead back to the home team 10-7.

From there the Redskins never gave it back, in fact they added another score after intercepting Pleasant on their next series. Again it was Schwieterman, this time on a 9-yard swing pass with 6:10 left in the game, pushing the lead to 17-7.

Facing a 10-point deficit Pleasant went into rush mode and were able to punch it across on Griffin Clarks’ one-yard run. The problem was the clock. Down three and with just over minute to play, the Spartans were forced into an onside kick. St. Henry fell on the kick and then ran out the clock.

Said Strakey: “I think this is the biggest win I have had here at St. Henry.”

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