In similar fashion to the rest of their season, the Raiders dominated early on and cruised to the 63-32 win, burying Spanish Springs in a deep hole that it was unable to climb out of, despite its best effort. The win gave Reed a share of the Northern 4A league title and the one seed, which means it will meet the Cougars again next week.
“I do think that quick start was really important for us because in the second quarter, they made some adjustments and kind of got the ball rolling for themselves,” Reed coach Ernie Howren said. “I think that early lead there kind of set the tone for us.”
Just as it has all season long, Reed used suffocating defense and an unstoppable offense to grab a large lead from the opening kickoff.
After forcing the Cougars to punt the ball after gaining no yards on three quick plays, Reed was on the scoreboard just over a minute into the game. Quarterback A.J. Silva hit receiver Devin Gray in stride down the right sideline for a 45-yard touchdown and the 7-0 lead.
The Raider offense was back on the field a little over two minutes later after another Spanish Springs punt and again struck quickly. This time, Silva found receiver Chad Gray open across the middle of the field for a 26-yard score and two touchdown advantage halfway through the first quarter.
An attempt to get something going by the Cougars on their ensuing drive was stopped when Reed linebacker Kyle Vonschimmelmann dropped back and picked off a pass by Hunter Fralick deep in Spanish Springs territory.
Using the short field, Reed padded its lead on it second play as Silva connected with yet another receiver, this time hitting Alex Young on a post route for a 21-yard score and 21-0 lead seven minutes into the quarter.
The Cougars offense remained inept on its next drive as well and was again forced to punt. Chad Gray burst from the outside of the line on the fourth down and was able to block the punt, recovering it at the 14-yard line of Spanish Springs.
Starting in the red zone, receiver Beau Tittensor took a pass to the goal line and then capped the short drive off with a one-yard run for the 28-0 lead with two minutes still left in the first quarter.
An exchange of three punts and two fumbles slowed the Raider scoring spree momentarily. With six minutes remaining in the first half though, Reed put its foot back on the gas pedal. From 13 yards out, Silva put a perfectly placed ball over the left shoulder of Devin Gray in the corner of the endzone as Gray tapped a foot in bounds for the score, giving Reed a 35-0 lead.
With plenty of damage done, the Cougars finally settled down and got some offense going. Using quick passes and a couple of crucial penalties, Spanish Springs ended a 78-yard drive on a two yard pass from Fralick to receiver Vance Lively, leaving the score at 35-6 with three minutes until the half.
Forcing a rare three and out by Reed, the Cougs scored again two minutes later on a 38-yard touchdown pass to Troy Weller, trimming the deficit to 35-12.
“I’m just really proud of the fact that we played hard the whole game,” Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare said. “Reed is by far and away right now, I would classify them as the best team in the North. They jumped on us kind of like they’ve jumped on everybody else, but we played, and we played hard.
“Once we got our feet on the ground and said ‘Okay, this is just another high school football team. A really good high school football team in Reed, but they’re still just another high school football team. Let’s just play.’ And when we did that, we showed some signs that we could play and have some fun.”
Reed return man Spencer Stockton quickly halted any momentum though, taking the ensuing kickoff from the left side of the field to the right for the 77-yard touchdown, giving the Raiders a 42-12 halftime lead.
A surprise onside kick by the Cougars started the second half, with Spanish Springs recovering the ball. Capitalizing on the recovery, the Cougs used a 43-yard pass to receiver Lowry Ryder down to the goal line to set up a one-yard score by Cole Schaefer.
The Raiders were sure to respond though, scoring the next three touchdowns of the game for a 63-18 stranglehold and putting to rest any ideas of a Spanish Springs comeback.
“I was real proud of the kids in the second half,” Howren said. “They came out and really got the ball rolling for us and kind of put it away in the third quarter.”
Two late scores were added by the Cougars to result in the 63-32 final.
Silva finished with 12 completions on 18 attempts for 174 yards. The leading Raider receiver was Tittensor, who had 58 yards on five receptions. Vonschimmelmann led Reed in rushing with 92 yards on eight carries.
On the Cougars’ side of the ball, Fralick totaled 21 completions on 38 tries for 249 yards. Lively had seven catches for 84 yards. CJ Carithers carried the ball 11 times for 78 yards.
While the score may have been lopsided, Hare hopes to take positives from the game as Spanish Springs heads into its playoff rematch next week with the Raiders.
“Taking it into next week, we are going to say ‘Let’s start the game the way we ended it. Let’s play with passion. Let’s play excited. Let’s try to make some plays both on offense and defense. Let’s not watch Reed be good. Let’s try to make some plays.’ And then if they beat us, they beat us,” he said.
The game is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Reed.