For Cedar Ridge High School’s senior night, spirits were high but results did not go accordingly. Right from the start the Red Wolves had to deal with an aggressive offense from their cross-town rivals. Just four and a half miles separates Orange High and Cedar Ridge, and fans of both sides certainly realized bragging rights were on the line in a showdown that ended with a 43-14 Panthers victory.
The night started off with the recognition of 19 seniors in the marching band, cheerleading squad, sports medicine team, and the football team. Loved ones escorted the seniors to the front of the field and each was presented to the cheering fans in honor of their dedication to Cedar Ridge athletics. For the football team, the seniors were KJ Barnes, Brandon Poteet, Jaikel Gibbs, Matthew Hinton, Braedon Thompson, Robert Sharpe, and Zachary Holmes.
Once the game started, most of the cheering came from the Panthers crowd.
Orange High scored its first touchdown in the 10th minute of the first quarter. The Panther defense right from the start was ready to take on the Red Wolves without hesitation. The first quarter was a swift up and down for both teams as Cedar Ridge made its first touchdown midway through the quarter. At the end of the quarter, senior quarterback Wyatt Jones threw for his second touchdown and the Panthers led by a score of 15-14.
For Cedar Ridge head coach Torrean Hinton, the game’s turn after the second quarter was the result of execution in the trenches and the fatigue of the rivalry game.
“We came out energized, my hats off to Orange,” Hinton said. “They came out and played hard. My guys came out and we tried to do things different and it was working, but getting down into the trenches of the game, fatigue starts to play a factor, and in the end, they beat us.”
The second half of the game saw Orange High continue to cement its lead. The Panther defense held stout against the Red Wolves offense and the Panthers outscored their opponents by 14 points in the second half.
The big stars on the night for the Panthers were running backs Omarion Lewis and Elliott Woods. Lewis, a sophomore, ran the ball 21 times for 173 yards and two scores; while Woods, a junior, contributed 14 carries for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
For Red Wolves junior cornerback/wide receiver Desi Raspberry Jr., the game in the end was about putting the best effort forward for the senior class.
“I think we did good in the first half, but then Orange got more fight and heart and they put out with the win,” Raspberry Jr. said. “But I say we tried to do something special for our seniors on senior night.”
Nigel Slanker, a junior punter, was a key player in the match up against Cedar Ridge.
“It went as it should had, we executed well and won hard,” Slanker said.
On the night, Slanker was able to move the ball forward well on his punts and pin the Red Wolves down with booming kicks.
After the game, Orange High head coach Van Smith was very pleased by the hard-fought victory from his team over their rival.
“I’m just very tickled of our effort.” Smith said. “Cedar Ridge came out hot, for a senior night and cross-town rivalry, they had a good game plan starting out and they scored but we were able to answer, we weathered the storm and I was really proud of our guys for coming back with touchdown after touchdown, I felt like we also did really well with special teams as well.”
The Panthers took home ultimate bragging rights and won a second consecutive game for the first time this season to move to 4-6 on the year and 3-3 in Big-8 play, while also winning the battle of Hillsborough.