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MCDONALD'S GAME OF THE WEEK (Football): #10 Potosi/Cassville 30, #6 River Ridge 26
#10 Chieftains rally to knock off #6 River Ridge in Six Rivers showdown
Levi Groom
Potosi/Cassville senior quarterback Levi Groom threw a pair of touchdowns to fellow senior Robby Roe in the Chieftains' 30–26 victory over Six Rivers foe River Ridge last Friday night.

PREP FOOTBALL: #10 Potosi/Cassville 30, #6 River Ridge 24

By A.J. Gates Herald Independent/Tri-County Press

POTOSI — Despite spotting the Timberwolves a 12–0 lead early in last Friday night’s Six Rivers clash, coach Mark Siegert and his Potosi/Cassville football squad did not push the panic button.

Instead, the Chieftains answered by scoring 30 consecutive points, taking a 30–12 lead into the fourth quarter, and holding off a late run by River Ridge to secure a 30–26 victory.

With their come-from-behind victory over visiting River Ridge, the Chieftains improved to 5–1 in league play, keeping their hopes alive for a share of this year’s Six Rivers conference crown.

Whether or not the Chieftains are awarded a share of this year’s league title, rests solely on the shoulders of the same Timberwolves they defeated last Friday night.

Coach Wade Winkers’ Timberwolves, who entered last Friday night’s contest unbeaten in league play, could have eliminated the Chieftains from any conference title hopes with a win, which would have also set up a winner-take-all scenario this week against visiting Black Hawk/Warren (5–0)

With Friday night’s loss to the Chieftains though, River Ridge fell to 4–1 in league play, and must now defeat the visiting Warriors Friday night in order to create a three-way tie for this year’s Six Rivers conference title.

The action was fast and furious last Friday night, as River Ridge senior Ian Adrian took the opening kick off 77 yards to the end zone for an early 6–0 lead for the Timberwolves.

After stopping Potosi/Cassville on the ensuing possession, the River Ridge offense needed just one play to add to their lead, as senior signal caller Logan Drone scored on an 85-yard quarterback keeper to give his team an early 12–0 lead with just 2:43 taken off the first-quarter clock.

While lesser teams may have hung their heads and veered away from their original game plan, coach Siegert and his Chieftains simply regained focus and went to work.

An 11-yard TD run by senior speedster Ashton Spitzack pulled Potosi/Cassville to within 12–6 late in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Potosi/Cassville got a 1-yard TD plunge from sophomore running back Roman Friederick, followed by a two-point conversion pass from senior quarterback Levi Groom to Spitzack.

Now we had a game, as the host Chieftains had clawed their way back to take a 14–12 halftime lead, leaving the second half to decide the outcome.

After keeping the Timberwolves out of the end zone for most of the first quarter and all of the second, the Potosi/Cassville defense did the same in the third quarter, where the Chieftains outscored the T'Wolves, 16–0.

In the third quarter, the dynamic duo of quarterback Levi Groom and senior wideout Robby Roe who combined for touchdown strikes of 30 and 34 yards, which gave the Chieftains a valuable cushion. Two-point conversion runs by Owen Vogelsberg and Roman Friederick gave Potosi/Cassville a 30–12 advantage going into the fourth quarter.

The Timberwolves made things interesting in the final 12 minutes, getting a 33-yard TD run from senior Will Cooley, followed by a two-point conversion pass from Drone to Adrian, making the score 30–20 with 9:04 to play in the game.

Following a defensive stop, the Timberwolves then cashed in on an eight-yard TD run from senior Owen Hamilton with 3:46 showing on the clock. The missed two-point conversion attempt left the score 30–26.

The River Ridge defense did its job one more time, preventing Potosi/Cassville from running out the clock, and getting the ball back for its offense.

Time ran out on the Timberwolves though, who were unable to gain any ground against the Chieftain defense in the final minutes.

When all was said and done, the Chieftains had amassed 392 yards of total offense on 57 plays, while River Ridge had 366 yards of total offense on 54 plays.

Despite playing from behind early in the contest, coach Siegert’s Chieftains stuck to their game plan, rushing for 278 yards and two touchdowns on 45 attempts.

They were led by  Friederick, who finished with 168 yards and one TD on 22 carries. Spitzack added 87 yards rushing and one TD on 13 carries.

“We didn’t really do anything different, we just didn’t hit the panic button,” said Siegert. “The kids just refocused and did all of the things we’ve been doing in practice all week and made sure that they did their job and went through their assignments.

“We had opportunities to shut the door, but we just never did. We always kept that door just a little bit open. Against a really good team, they’re going to find a way to scratch and claw and make it close, which they absolutely did that. It was a really good game.”

With a stable of good running backs at his disposal, Siegert was pleased to see Friederick step up when his team needed him, and always has good things to say about his offensive line.

“We’ve been super lucky that we have a bunch of guys that could do that on any given night,” said Siegert. “If it’s not one of them, it’s a couple of them, and it’s hard to shut all of them down. Roman had some really big runs, and the line did an incredible job too. They are doing a very nice job of working together, and we’re pretty lucky that way.”

Through the air, Groom completed 6-of-12 passing attempts for the Chieftains, accounting for 114 yards and two TDs. Robby Roe hauled in four passes for 94 yards and both TDs, while Logan Kruser had one catch for 17 yards, and Spitzack one catch for three yards. Defensively for the Chieftains, Owen Vogelsberg was in on 18 total tackles, while Groom had 14 and Spitzack 10. Senior defensive back Joseph Vogelsberg had two interceptions on the night.

River Ridge, who did a nice job of mixing up their offense, rushed for 207 yards on 35 attempts, while Drone completed 9-of-19 passes for 159 yards. Drone was the team’s leading rusher with 87 yards and one TD on seven attempts, while Hamilton rushed 21 times for 66 yards and one TD, followed by Cooley who had five carries for 38 yards and a score.

Ian Adrian hauled in a team-high four receptions for 91 yards, while Braden Crubel had two catches for 45 yards and Bryr Clark two receptions for 17 yards. Defensively for the Timberwolves, Drone had 14 total tackles, followed by Hamilton with 10 and Andrew Nies with nine.

“We played a really good team on Friday night and we needed to play at a high level throughout,” said River Ridge head coach Wade Winkers. “We did that early with some explosive plays and solid defense, but we let the momentum swing in their favor by allowing some big plays and some costly mistakes.

“We could never answer them during the second quarter specifically. We had opportunities, but couldn’t punch it across the goal line. I give our opponent a great deal of credit for their fight to come back after being down, and I was pleased with our fight in the fourth quarter to make it a one-score game and have the ball back with less than two minutes left.”

The Timberwolves close out the regular season Friday night with a home game against visiting Black Hawk/Warren, while Potosi/Cassville plays a crossover contest with host Fennimore.

“A conference title is still in front of us and we have to bounce back quickly to beat a very good team this Friday night,” said Winkers. “I feel good about the mindset of our team and I think we will be ready.”

While Black Hawk/Warren has won conference football titles in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the Timberwolves are looking for a share of their first title since 2004. For the Chieftains, they haven’t won or shared a conference title since 2014.

Potosi/Cassville 30, River Ridge 26
(from Friday, Oct. 8, at Potosi)
River Ridge 12 0 0 14 - 26
Potosi/Cassville 6 8 16 0 - 30
First quarter
RR - (11:47) Ian Adrian, 77-yard kick return (kick failed)
RR - (9:17) Logan Drone, 85-yard run (kick failed)
P/C - (3:17) Ashton Spitzack, 11-yard run (run failed)
Second quarter
P/C - (8:40) Roman Friederick, 1-yard run (Spitzack pass from Levi Groom)
Third quarter
P/C - (9:03) Robby Roe, 30-yard pass from Groom (Owen Vogelsberg run)
P/C - (5:13) Roe, 34-yard pass from Groom (Friederick run)
Fourth quarter
RR - (9:04) Will Cooley, 33-yard run (Adrian pass from Drone)
RR - (3:46) Owen Hamilton, 8-yard run (pass failed)
Team statistics
First downs - RR 13, P/C 16. Rushing - RR 35-207, P/C 45-278. Passing yards - RR 159, P/C 114. Passes - RR 9-19-2, P/C 6-12-0. Fumbles-lost - RR 0-0, P/C 2-2. Penalties-yards - RR 4-30, P/C 4-24. 
Rushing leaders: RR: Logan Drone 7-87, Owen Hamilton 21-66, Will Cooley 5-38, Ian Adrian 1-10, Braden Crubel 1-6. P/C: Roman Friederick 22-168, Ashton Spitzack 13-87.
Passing leaders: RR: Logan Drone 9-19-2, 159. P/C: Levi Groom 6-12-0, 114.
Receiving leaders: RR: Ian Adrian 4-91, Braden Crubel 2-45, Bryr Clark 2-17, Will Cooley 1-6. P/C: Robby Roe 4-94, Logan Kruser 1-17, Ashton Spitzack 1-3.