St. Pius X tops Pembroke Hill in rivalry game
By Marc Bowman PrepsKC staff writer
In a prelude to a first-round Class 3 district playoff game next week, the St. Pius X Warriors held off the Pembroke Hill Raiders, 21-12.
The Warriors defense stood tall, shutting out the Raiders for three quarters as junior quarterback Tommy Hoambrecker led the offense on a pair of first quarter touchdown drives.
Hoambrecker’s 35-yard strike to senior tailback Bobby McCoy got Pius on the scoreboard with 6:25 left in the first period.
“That was all him,” Hoambrecker said. “He found an open spot. All I had to do was toss it to him. He made a move and scored.”
On the next possession, junior running back Will Brockman found a seam and scampered 20 yards for a touchdown with 2:07 left in the first quarter.
The score remained 13-0 Warriors until the fourth quarter as both teams struggled to move the ball.
“It took our offense a little while to kind of figure out what we could execute,” said Pembroke Head Coach Sam Knopik. “We had our moments and we had our chances. The entire first half we were playing with a short field and we’d just go, go, and peter out. Go, go, and peter out. That was frustrating. We struggled finding big plays.”
“We started off kind of soft but we finished strong, though,” Hoambrecker said. “We knew we could put it to them. We just kind of came out soft and we could have done a lot better. Our defense was doing really well. Very solid, very solid. Our offense, we were soft. But, we fixed things in the second half and we’re ready for the playoffs.”
A school schedule change may have contributed to the Warriors (6-4) slow start.
“Obviously we’ve got a few things to shore up a little bit,” said Pius Head Coach Rick Byers. “We were off our schedule a little bit. Our kids weren’t in school today. I don’t think they were ready to play.”
“That seems to be the case, any schedule change we don’t come out strong,” Hoambrecker said. “We never come out strong. We don’t have a schedule change next week, but if we do, we’ve still got to be ready. We can’t come out flat. We’ve got to come out strong.”
The Warriors seemed to put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter when Hoambrecker ran 19 yards for a touchdown with 10:50 left in the game. The score capped a seven-play, 69-yard drive which saw Hoambrecker connect on two long pass plays: 29 yards to Brockman and 22 yards on a screen pass to senior running back Bobby Vutich.
“Tommy’s a good kid,” Byers said. “He knows what he’s doing. He knows our offense well. He’s a great athlete, three-sport guy. He can do whatever you need him to do. We know he’s going to make plays for us down the stretch.”
“That one was big,” Hoambrecker said. “The line was blocking great. We finally figured out what to do. Big score, put them out the game.”
The Raiders didn’t think it was over, though, as they responded immediately, going 57 yards on 10 plays for their first score.
Senior quarterback Travis Sedlock’s 38-yard pass to junior wide receiver Bert Bean down the left sideline set up a one-yard plunge by senior running back Hank Graves cutting the lead to 21-6 with 7:32 left.
“We had a couple big (plays),” Knopik said. “Bert Bean and Travis (Sedlock) came through there. They hooked up some vertical routes for us, which was kind of nice. It’s not really our thing, but they made it happen and made big plays. That’s one of the things that’s really fun.”
On the next possession, Pembroke (6-3) again used a long pass down the left sideline to narrow the advantage to 21-12, but Bean’s 28-yard reception from Sedlock at 2:41 was the final score of the game, snapping the Raiders five-game winning streak.
“Our defense was kind of the reason we were a little surprised they were throwing on us,” Byers said. “We were able to stop the run so well and we had no idea why our defensive backs were scooting up all the time. When you’re having that kind of deal and everybody’s making tackles, kids want to get involved, so they start creeping up and they took advantage of us on a couple of plays. It’s one of the things we need to shore up. Just do your job.”
While both squads wanted this win, Friday’s game was merely an appetizer for next week’s main course when Pembroke returns to Pius for the first round of district playoffs.
“It was a good victory,” Byers said. “Any win’s a good win. It got us a home playoff game, first round of districts, so we’re excited about that. We’ll turn right around. It’s always better to be at home than on the road. But, it’s nice. It’s a good win. The kids played well.”
“These guys again,” Knopik said. “We’re going to be back here in seven days for a 4-5 seed playoff matchup, so that’ll be kind of fun. You don’t get to do that very often and to be able to do that again, against St. Pius especially. We really do love playing these guys. It’s so much fun. We just know what kind of game we’re going to get and it’s a challenge.”
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