Raider football team starts its season with 14-8 win over Henry Sibley
The Hastings Raiders football team beat the Henry-Sibley Warriors 14-8 in the season opener last Friday night. The Raiders came out on top in a sloppy game full of turnovers and inopportune penalties thanks to a few big plays and a bend but don’t break mentality on defense.
On the very first possession of the game, the Warriors ran the ball right down the field with the Raiders struggling to stop them. However, the Warriors fumbled at the Hastings’ 23 yard line which the Raiders recovered. The Raiders then went three-and-out right away, punting the ball back to Henry-Sibley which proceeded to fumble again on the first play which the Raider’s recovered in Warriors territory. Hastings capitalized when senior running back Ovie Embu broke a 42-yard touchdown run and they converted the extra-point to go ahead 7-0 with 3:52 left in the first quarter.
Toward the end of the first quarter and into the second, the Raiders’ defense tightened up and began to stop the Warriors run game just enough to get off the field. Hastings had another great chance in Henry-Sibley territory after quarterback Colin Kummer completed a 38-yard pass to wide receiver Jake Brake to the Warriors’ 32 yard line. However, once inside the red zone Kummer was intercepted at the five yard line which ended a promising drive.
The Warriors were forced to punt just inside Hastings’ territory after the interception, but senior linebacker Josh Miser broke through to block and recover the punt at the Raiders’ 47. Once again, though, Kummer was intercepted just three plays later and the Warriors proceeded to drive down the field when lineman Ben Kemp of Henry-Sibley ran the ball in for the touchdown. The Warriors converted the two-point conversion as the half expired and they led the Raiders 8-7.
The second half was a back-and-forth battle between both teams. The Hastings defense continued to give up yardage to a punishing Warrior run game, but managed to prevent them from scoring, helped by another Warrior fumble inside the Hastings’ 20 yard-line.
The Raiders scored the go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute left in the third quarter on a 64-yard touchdown pass from Kummer to Brake and with the extra point went ahead 14-8. That lead lasted for the rest of the night, giving Hastings the victory in the season opener.
Hastings’ head coach Dana Strain acknowledged the game’s sloppiness but overall said he was happy with his team’s performance.
“Our kids played with great effort across the board,” Strain said. “If we play with that kind of effort each week that will bode well for us. Defensively we found a way to hang in there and get off the field, we gave up some yards but our kids did a good job to hang in there and get off the field.”
The Warriors amassed 252 yards on the ground on 50 carries, plus another 104 yards through the air. Their three fumbles cost them dearly though, ending at least two drives that very well could have ended in points.
Strain said while some of the sloppiness can be attributed to it being the first game of the season, they will definitely have things to work on before they host Simley on Sept. 9.
“Communication offensively is going to be a big one for us to clean up,” Strain said. “There’s always week one stuff that you’d expect but we had too many communication miscues offensively.”
The difference in the game was Hastings’ ability to break big plays for scores, both of the Raiders’ touchdowns coming off plays longer than 40 yards. Strain stated that it was that ability, as well as the effort defensively, that clinched it for the Raiders.
“We had a couple of plays that went the distance and defensively for us we were able to limit their big plays,” Strain explained. “That was a point of emphasis for us based on last year, I thought we did a good job last year, but one area we wanted to improve upon was limiting big plays.”
The majority of the Raiders’ offense came through the air. Kummer completed eight passes on 18 attempts for 163 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Embu was bottled up for the most part despite his 42-yard scoring burst. He finished with 80 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown. Brake was really a difference maker offensively, catching three passes for 118 yards and a score.
On Friday, Sept. 9, Hastings will play host to Simley in its home opener at McNamara Stadium at Todd Field. The Raiders have not yet beaten Simley since joining their new division and Strain expects a tough matchup.
“They’re an athletic football team,” Strain said. “They’re a good football team, we will need to defend some option stuff we didn’t need to defend last week. The challenge that they pose for us is that they run the option and run it well. Our kids will have to be very mentally disciplined and take care of their assignments, as well as limit or eliminate their big plays”