SUGARCREEK – For years the West Lafayette Ridgewood High School defense has been known as the ‘Silver Hammer’ which was coined by late coach Chuck McMasters.
On Friday the Generals unleashed that defense on host Sugarcreek Garaway in a key Inter-Valley Conference tilt and the result was a 13-0 victory for Ridgewood – it’s 18th straight conference win. It was also the Generals second straight shutout.
“We were a little shell-shocked early on, but we stepped up and made plays when we needed to,” Ridgewood coach John Slusser said.
Early on it looked as if Garaway’s offense would be the story as the Pirates took the opening kick and drove from their own 20 to Ridgewood’s 10 for a first-and-goal.
Ridgewood junior Ryan Gress responded with a sack of Pirate junior signal-caller David Gerber on third-and-goal, which ended up forcing a turnover on downs.
The stop proved big as the Orange and Black drove right down the field and at the 2:20 mark of the first quarter senior Eric Pitcher swept around right end from 13 yards out for a score. Sophomore Skylor McQuiston’s point after kick made it 7-0.
“That stop was the biggest thing in this game,” Pitcher said.
While the front seven was stout against the run the Ridgewood defensive backs were solid as well and on Garaway’s next series sophomore Jake Conrad came up with the first of his two interceptions to put the Generals in prime field position at the Pirate 37.
Six plays later Derrick Young scampered in from 15 yards away and when the kick after sailed wide left the scoring had been capped at the 10:54 mark of the second quarter.
For the remainder of the first half the hosts managed just 16 yards of total offense and failed to make a first down.
The second half was much of the same as Ridgewood pounded the ball on the ground running clock and on the other side repeatedly turned the Pirates away.
After a 17-play Ridgewood drive turned the ball over on downs at the Garaway seven to start the second half the Pirates mounted a drive that covered 13 plays and ultimately came down to a fourth-and-one call at the Ridgewood 43.
On the play Garaway standout Devin Schie was met in the hole by Ridgewood junior linebacker Derrick Young for no gain and neither team seriously threatened from there on out.
“That was a great stop and once it happened ball game over,” Slusser said. “D.Y. is getting better at recognizing what is going on out there.”
Any chance Garaway (1-3, 0-1) may have had at a comeback was thwarted when Conrad picked off his second pass of the game with 1:46 remaining in the contest for Ridgewood (3-1, 1-0 IVC).
While the offense was pounding out yardage in methodical fashion, the Generals were stingy on defense allowing just 165 yards of total offense.
Take out the first and last drives of the game and the Pirates netted just 65 yards the rest of the night.
By in large the Generals were solid against the run allowing just 83 yards on 33 total carries. Fifty of those yards came on three totes.
Of the Pirates’ 41 offensive plays in the game just eight came in Ridgewood territory.
“It’s really hard to keep focus sometimes,” Young said of his team coming off emotional county rivalry games the last two weeks with River View and Coshocton.
“We need to step it up a lot in practice and not let down.”
Young was the work horse for Ridgewood on offense toting the rock 25 times for 184 yards while Schie, who returned from a high ankle sprain, ran for 35 yards on 15 tries for the hosts.