CENTERVILLE – In a season filled with successful climbing, the London Red Raiders football team finally met its match as they were defeated 28-0 by number one seed Wyoming in the Division IV Regional Final Saturday, Nov. 17 at Centerville High School.
It was the third consecutive week London (11-1) had faced a higher-seeded team; beating Cincinnati Taft and Clinton-Massie on consecutive Saturdays to reach the school’s highest gridiron plateau since 1994. The London leader knows being one of the top eight teams in their division in the state is quite an accomplishment.
“The teamwork and determination these kids have shown us was an awesome thing to experience,” said Red Raiders coach Kyle Cutler. “Hard work does pay off, and these young men embodied that.”
Unfortunately, London ran into a buzz-saw in Wyoming dual-threat quarterback Evan Prater. The Cowboys’ junior signal-caller accounted for all four of his squad’s scores – two with his arm and two with his legs.
“Their QB was a dynamic player both running and passing the ball,” Cutler said of Prater. “What made him even more effective was they had surrounded him with good skill players which allows their big play ability to take over if you’re not careful.”
The Red Raiders know all about big plays as that in part is what vaulted them to a convincing victory over Clinton-Massie the week before. As the game began, London hoped to repeat the success they had on the ground the week prior.
After receiving the first half kickoff, London started its running attack with the combination of KJ Price and Brennan Spiess. Despite gaining some yards, Wyoming proved why it earned the top seeding as they forced the Red Raiders to punt.
Early on, the London defense was able to get to Prater quickly – making him rush his throws. Led by Nate Wells, Bricker Theil, and others, the Red Raiders forced the Cowboys to punt.
That scenario repeated itself as the initial stanza went on while both teams held defensively and forced the other to punt.
With a stalemate happening, something was needed to guide the game’s course. Turnovers are good in a bakery, but not on a football field.
Less than a minute into the second quarter, Wyoming’s Eli Cupp came up with a Red Raiders fumble. After a pair of Pierson Rogers runs, Cowboy QB Prater weaved his way through the London defense for a 26-yard scrambling score.
A long kickoff return by Spiess put London in business, but they soon found themselves in a fourth-and-one situation. On the pivotal next play, Wyoming’s Joey Edmonds came down with the tipped ball interception.
The Cowboys then embarked on a close to five minute drive that mixed the run and the pass. Wyoming eventually tallied their second score off of a turnover as Edmonds made a terrific catch in the end zone of a Prater pass to give their squad a 14-0 halftime advantage.
“Cannot win big games turning the ball over like we did,” Cutler said. “It is as simple as that.”
The Cowboys came out after the break and salted the game away with another Prater-to-Edmonds TD pass – this one following an 11-play drive that nearly consumed the first half of the third quarter.
The remainder of the third quarter became a defensive struggle between the squads in the trenches. Theil and Richie Geib led a swarming London defense that was able to corral Wyoming’s Prater – albeit temporarily.
Two minutes into the final quarter, the talented Cowboys QB found a running lane along his team’s bench and outran all in pursuit for a 70-yard TD jaunt to conclude the scoring.
The loss concluded the most successful season waged on the London gridiron in decades, and one, according to the coach, that was fueled in part by the support received locally.
“Having the London community rally behind us and show the support they have has been a tremendous honor,” Cutler said. “In our program we take to heart that we represent more than ourselves and we do our best to make our community proud.”