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Quick start fuels Roncalli win over Webster

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Abe Kretchman, center, cuts back into an opening as he runs for a big gain during Friday’s game against Webster Area at the Hub City Bowl at Swisher Field. Photo by John Davis taken 8/27/2021

Aberdeen Roncalli used its passing attack to grab a lead before turning to its running game to help protect it Friday night at Swisher Field.

The Cavaliers scored on three long pass plays in the opening half and then fought off a stubborn Webster squad to earn a 26-16 Northeast Conference football victory during the Hub City Bowl.

“When teams get film on you and they can make adjustments, the second game is always tougher than the first one,” said Roncalli coach Billy Young. “Webster has a good program. They’re well-coached and their kids play really hard. They punched us in the mouth a few times, but our guys responded and we played well when we needed to.”

Jackson Isakson fired touchdown strikes to Andrew Brennan for 39 yards, Ben Rohl for 42 yards and Matthew Martinez for 36 yards as the Cavaliers built a 19-0 advatnage. After that, it was a hard-hitting struggle the rest of the way.

The Bearcats dug in, rallied for a pair of second-quarter scores on touchdown runs by Carson Mount and Jaydon Keller, and made life interesting, cutting the deficit to 10 points at the half.

Roncalli decided turn to its run game in the final half.

“I told them at halftime we’re going to just keep with the ground and pound,” Young said. “We’re not going to get too cute with the play calling.”

That meant a steady workload for Abe Kretchman. The junior running back, who is listed at 5-foot-7, 140 pounds, is not necessarily thought of as a workhorse, but he was on this occasion.

“I mainly rely on my speed and agility to get by them,” Kretchman said. “I’ll drop my shoulder if I need to.”

Kretchman used his patience and vision to get by Webster defenders the entire night, finishing with 175 yards on 22 carries including a touchdown.

“He’s got the best vision maybe of any running back that I’ve ever coached,” Young said. “He’s super patient, waits for it to open and hits it. He’s a good weapon to have.”

Kretchman said it can be hard to wait for the holes to open, but they eventually do.

“It’s pretty hard,” Kretchman said of being patient. “You see guys from your side coming at you, but you just have to wait for it. It will open.”

Kretchman was able to ground out the tough yards down the stretch that allowed the Cavaliers to retain possession and work the clock.

Meanwhile, the Roncalli defense made adjustments at the half and kept the Bearcats off the scoreboard in the final 24 minutes. Matthew Martinez played a key role, stopping one possession with an interception and coming up with several big hits to thwart others.

“They ran this trips formation. It was confusing for us, because we hadn’t really prepared for it,” Martinez said. “We came in at halftime and kind of talked about it, and figured out we just had to tackle better.”

Martinez ended up making a major impact down the stretch.

“I made some mistakes early on. At halftime I was talking to myself,” Martinez said. “I had to pick up my intensity and mentally focus more and do my job, and it worked out.”

Isakson finished the night with 205 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Keller had 90 yards rushing and 41 yards passing to help power the Bearcats.

Roncalli, 2-0 on the season, now takes to the road for a game against Dakota Hills in Wilmot on Friday.

“We have to make sure we don’t come out slow off the bus,” Martinez said. “We just have to stay sharp and be ready.”

Webster (0-2) 0 16 0 0 – 16

Aberdeen Roncalli (2-0) 12 14 0 0 – 26

First Quarter

AR – Andrew Brennan 39 pass from Jackson Isakson (kick failed), 10:09.

AR – Ben Rohl 42 pass from Isakson (pass failed), 2:55.

Second Quarter

AR – Matthew Martinez 36 pass from Isakson (Isakson kick), 11:40.

W – Carson Mount 6 run (Ethan Opitz pass from Jaydon Keller), 6:33.

AR – Abe Kretchman 3 run (Isakson kick), 2:45.

W – Keller 17 run (Keller run), :54.6.

OFFENSE: Webster rushing 34-178 (Jaydon Keller 12-90, Brent Bearman 9-37, Jacob Pereboom 7-30, Carson Mount 3-13, Ethan Opitz 3-8), passing 8-20-2 for 69 (Keller 3-9-2 for 41, Pereboom 5-11-0 for 28), receiving (Pereboom 1-28, Bearman 3-26, Opitz 2-9, Keller 2-6), first downs 15; Aberdeen Roncalli 34-187 (Abe Kretchman 22-175, Ben Rohl 4-11, Andrew Brennan 3-8), passing 8-14-1 for 205 (Jackson Isakson 8-14-1 for 205), receiving (Brennan 4-94, Matthew Martinez 2-65, Rohl 1-42, Keegan Stewart 1-4), first downs 16.

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