St. Pius X rallies to defeat Pembroke Hill

By Marc Bowman PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: October 14, 2017 - 12:08 AM

On Senior Night at Pembroke Hill, the St. Pius X Warriors overcame injuries and a slow start to upset the Raiders, 21-10.

Senior quarterback Tommy Hoambrecker, who was suffering from sprained rotator cuff, broke off two long runs as the Warriors (4-5) erased an early deficit.

After the Raiders converted junior Quinn Brandmeyer’s 58-yard punt return into a touchdown on a four-yard run by senior Yakini Kasimu for an early lead, Hoambrecker bounced off the right side of the line for a 50-yard run to knot the score, 7-7, with 6:22 left in the opening quarter.

“We started the game with a couple of runs up the middle, got nowhere out of it,” he said. “We faked it, they just collapsed on (senior running back) Will (Brockman) and it opened up for me.”

“Tommy couldn’t throw, so we were just trying some stuff, trying to run the wildcat,” Coach Rick Byers said, “Just letting him run the option. He finally found some gaps and broke some open, and opened up things for us a little bit.”

The Raiders’ clock-eating drive of nearly seven-and-a-half minutes on their next possession stalled at the Warriors 13-yard line, but junior kicker Charlie Thorne converted a 31-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead with 11 minutes left in the half.

Although the Raiders (7-2) moved the ball steadily on the ground in the first half, they were hurt by penalties which took them out of the red zone but still took a 10-7 lead into intermission.

On the Warriors third play from scrimmage in the second half, Hoambrecker again broke free, running 57 yards off the right side for a 14-10 lead with 10:36 left in the third quarter.

“I just saw that D-End bit,” he said. “He went down and there was an opening outside.”

“The reason he’s a captain and our starting quarterback is because he’s that guy,” Byers said. “He’s a slick, good-looking kid that’s just knows how to get it done. He’s a great competitor, heck of an athlete. This, hopefully, may vault him into some college’s boards. He’s had some looks from Jewell and some of the others. We’re confident that somebody will make the right decision and pick that kid up.”

The Raiders again had opportunities in the second half, but hurt their scoring chances with turnovers.

“St. Pius is a good football team; that’s what happened,” said Raiders coach Sam Knopik. “We would have liked to have move the ball in the second half as good as we felt like we did in the first half.  But, shoot, we’re not out here playing a Pop Warner game. We’re playing against the best coaching staff in the city as far as I’m concerned. And, they got those guys ready to play. Obviously, they’re facing some adversity tonight, with some injuries, just like everybody is this time of year. And for those kids on the other side of the field to have been as resilient as they were in the second half is impressive.”

“The defense, we were counting on that,” Byers said. “That was our deal. We were kind of beat up on offense, but we kind of pretty much had our defense intact. They came out and scored right off the bat and then finally we kind of dug in and figured it out, kind of took away the quarterback from the run game and kind of put some faster guys at the end. Made a few adjustments and got some stops.”

Hoambrecker, who rushed for 152 yards on the evening, led the Warriors for a final score in the fourth quarter, with Brockman taking a handoff four yards off left tackle to put the game away, 21-10, with 4:38 left to play.

“The line; I give all credit to the line,” Hoambrecker said. “I know that’s kind of typical, but in this case it’s true.”

“It’s a good win for us,” Byers said. “We’re very excited.”

The Warriors came into the contest with a fifth seed for the upcoming District 8 playoffs, but are hopeful the victory will move them into the upper half of the standings.

“We were looking, if we’d lost, possibly being a six (seed), and now this may vault us into a three, and we’ll get to host a game, hopefully,” Byers said. “That would be nice, especially the way things started off. Our numbers are down a little bit, but the kids we’ve got are quality kids, and they battled back. We’re as ready as we’re going to be (for District). Ready or not, here it comes. We’ll strap it back on, try to figure it out as soon as they tell us who we’re playing and where, try to do our best.”

“Coach told us if we win this game we’re a 3-seed and get a home game in the playoffs,” Hoambrecker said. “If we lose, we’re a 5-seed on the road. I’m a senior. I want another home game. It means a lot for me and all the rest of the seniors.”

The Raiders entered the night holding on to one of the top spots in class 3 district 8 and believe they will remain in a good spot going into District play next week.

“It gives us something to show the kids and learn from,” Knopik said. “We’ll see here in a couple of hours when the points get done, but they’ve put themselves in a position to hopefully be in an advantageous position next week. Either way, whoever shows up, they’re going to play to win, too.

“Hopefully there’s some things we can learn from here tonight and our kids can understand that tonight was not the end of the season, but the start of the playoffs.”