CROFTON — To expect anything less than a slobber knocker when Crofton and Cedar Catholic get together on a football pitch is akin to not anticipating a flipped car in a Fast and Furious flick.
But one thing the guest Trojans did Friday night in Crofton was find another way to win, pulling away for a 20-6 victory to move to 5-1 overall with three weeks left to play.
The Trojans now own a 36-23 advantage in the series, which dates back to 1957.
“We knew this game was going to be a very physical game because of the style of play of both teams,” Cedar head coach Chad Cattau said. “Playing Crofton is always an emotional game and both teams play with a lot of energy and emotion because this is one that seems to be talked about more than any other around here. It’s a fun rivalry that is great to be a part of each year. “
Cedar led 13-0 at halftime and built a 20-point edge until a late Crofton score gave the final a better look for the hosts.
Easton Becker scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, Brett Kleinschmit added a 43-yard burst and Tate Thoene connected with Carter Arens on a 29-yard scoring passing combination to account for Cedar’s scoring output.
Even though the Warriors had a size advantage, Cedar wasn’t going to let that hinder them.
“We knew they were going to be bigger than we were up front so we really emphasized using our quickness and speed to our advantage by what we wanted to do. We talked about relying on our fundamentals and athleticism to be able to overcome their size advantage,” Cattau said. “I thought our kids played really hard on both the offensive and defensive lines and that was where this game is decided each and every year.”
Cedar accumulated 320 yards of offense against Crofton’s modest 137-yard output.
Thoene threw for 138 yards and Becker and Kleinschmit finished with 106 and 54 yards respectively on the ground. Carter Arens was Thoene’s favorite target, grabbing four catches for 72 yards.
That kind of offensive balance is a real strength for the Trojans, Cattau said.
“We had a bunch of kids make plays throughout the entire game on both sides of the ball. A lot of kids got touches on offense and that is exactly how we can be a difficult team to defend,” he said. “We need to continue to move the ball around because it makes us more difficult to defend.”
Cattau said he knew his team would play well Friday because of the great week of practice they put in.
“Our kids did a great job in their preparation this week. I really felt our younger kids gave us as good of a look as they could when running Crofton’s offense all week. It’s a completely different look than we normally see so it’s not easy to prepare for, but those kids really bought into practicing as hard as they could to give us that look we needed,” he said.
Next up is Oakland-Craig, the team that inflicted two of the Trojans three losses a year ago, including the quarterfinal playoff defeat.
“It’s another game where we need to really prepare at a high level,” Cattau said.
“They do some unique things within their offense and they have some big playmakers on both sides of the ball so we need to really be crisp in our preparation every day at practice. They are also very good in their special teams so we will need to be excellent in that aspect as well.
“It’s always a fun game to prepare for because we know we will have to do things at a high level all the time. We are definitely in the heart of our schedule right now so paying attention to all the little details wil make a big difference in the outcome.”
Owen Dendinger said the Trojans win was chalk full of good vibes as the Trojans were just “there to play,” and the team delivered.
“We did what we came to do,” Dendinger said. “It was a really tough game and you had to put it all out there. I think we all played great. Playing Crofton you always know it’s going to be a dogfight with two great teams going against each other. I really enjoy playing Crofton. Both of our schools are going to put the best effort they can to win the war.”
Dendinger is feeling confident about the postseason, but he said the Trojans still need to fine tune their game.
“We have to put the work forward for what we want,” Dendinger said. “We are a great team, but great teams can always improve what they do.
“We did lose a couple of good seniors this year, but everyone knows each other, we are all good friends and everyone is together.”
With one third of the season left to play, Cattau isn’t getting too bogged down with playoff thoughts, but acknowledged that all games remaining carry plenty of weight.
“There is no guarantee that we will get into the postseason so we need to only worry about winning this week and let the other things take care of themselves,” Cattau said.
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