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By Sara Smith
Friday night the Schuyler Rams made the trek to Ludlow, Missouri to faceoff against the Southwest Wildcats (Livingston County) partnering with Hale & Tina- Avalon. This was the first-ever meeting between these two teams and it looked to be a good one. Both teams entered the game with identical records, four wins and two losses. The Southwest Wildcats also came to the game with a pretty serious pedigree, winning the Class 1 8-Man Football State Championship as recently as 2020, beating Concordia, North Shelby, Drexel/ Miami, and North Andrew to come out on top in the state tournament. The year before they had come up just short, finishing second. The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) website is filled with individual and state records held during those years. It was apparent that Southwest knew how to win.
On the other hand, the Rams were reeling from their defeat at Braymer the previous Friday, and dealing with the loss of senior all-purpose player, Kale Windy, due to injury. Kale averaged around 100 yards per game receiving, nearly 40 yards per game rushing, and was the author of 15 touchdowns this season, not to mention his 8 tackles per game. No doubt, it was going to be difficult for the team to adjust to his loss.
The brisk fall weather set the stage for this matchup as the game started in unusual fashion for an 8-man game as neither team scored on their first drive of the game. The Rams brought their first drive to an abrupt halt on their second play from scrimmage with a fumble on the Wildcat 4-yard-line. The Wildcats were unable to take advantage of the turnover however, and had to punt just four plays later.
On drive number two, the Rams seemed to find their feet as they got the ball with 9 minutes and 24 seconds remaining in the first quarter, in just over two minutes they scored their first touchdown of the game. This 6-play drive signaled a return to what Ram fans are used to seeing. It was a mix of play designs including a screen, a jet sweep, and some rushes. The drive was capped off with a post route for a touchdown as senior quarterback, Connor Smith found senior wide receiver, Mayson Humphrey for the 19 yard connection. This duo found their stride again in this game as they connected for six touchdowns on the night.
However, the Wildcats answered with a 12-play drive featuring senior running back, Tucker Singer. He was big, physical, and hard to bring down. Throughout the night, the Wildcats relied heavily upon the run game, so much so that when Southwest ran a pass play on the 12th play of that drive the Rams were taken by surprise and gave up a TD.
The game also featured some firsts for this viewer with regards to penalties. There were your typical holding, offside, false start, delay of game, and pass interference calls. Those are to be expected during a high school football game. As a matter-of-fact, holding could probably be called on most plays, so there is definitely some discretion on the part of the officials. Delay of game penalties seemed inevitable as the Wildcat field didn’t have a play clock, an official would signal when time was running down, this was confusing for both teams. However, when it comes to officiating, this game had a few incidents that set it apart. One such instance was the stoppage of play on the Wildcat’s fourth drive of the first half as a Rams player had to go to the sidelines to adjust his pants so they would cover his knees. Then there was the dead-ball personal foul on a kickoff that had the officials scratching their heads as to where to spot the ball. The granddaddy of all calls however, was the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the chain gang in the second half of play, a call that will no doubt live in Rams’ football lore for years to come. This penalty was followed by a Wildcat fumble which just added insult to injury.
The Wildcats had 10 possessions during the game, five in each half. They scored five touchdowns on the night, although the fifth touchdown came late in the fourth quarter when the Rams’ starters were on the sideline. The Ram defense forced a punt early, two turnovers on downs, and one fumble, which was recovered by senior Addin Sly.
Junior linebacker, Isaiah Arnold sets the standard for the Ram defense as he leads the team in tackles with 82 on the season, nine for a loss. This game proved to be more of the same for Arnold as he tallied up 19 tackles, four for a loss, and caused a fumble. Senior cornerback, Aden Snider also had one of his best games defensively with seven total tackles. At least twice, Snider was the only person between their big running back and the goal line, and he made the stop both times. Senior defensive end, Karsyn Elliott racked up 1.5 sacks in the game, a personal best for him. Sophomore middle linebacker, Lathan Martin joined Elliott on a sack and had seven total tackles. Expectations are always high for junior iron-man player Elliott Sevits as he also padded his tackle stats with seven solo tackles and eight assists. However, it was sophomore defensive end, Gus Williams that had a breakout game. Williams ended the night with seven solo tackles, five assists, two quarterback sacks, and safety.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Rams took the lead with 38 seconds remaining in the first half and never looked back. Largely due to the aforementioned Smith to Humphrey duo as they brought the air show to town. Smith threw for 265 yards and six touchdowns. He spent the night alternatively throwing absolute bullets and then laying in passes, hitting his receivers in stride. One such receiver, Humphrey, brought in nine passes for 193 yards. Wildcat defenders shrugged their shoulders as he seemed to continuously make catches that seemed unlikely as he was well defended, including a diving catch in the endzone. Humphrey rushed for 16 yards as well, on one run he gained 12 yards and a first down, but he probably ran 50 yards to do it as he ran from one side of the field to the other, cutting, spinning, looking for any opportunity for more yards. Humphrey also took over the quarterback role in the now-signature Ram 2-point conversion play, the swinging gate. He rushed for one 2-point conversion play, and found Smith for three more. The Rams scored on five of eight 2-point attempts (63%), a marginal improvement over last week’s 50% conversion rate.
Not to be outdone, sophomore running back, Mason Windy stepped up for some great gains. On offense he had 65 receiving yards, 56 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. The Rams needed him to be a threat on offense, and he was, especially in the second half as the Wildcats tried to shut down Humphrey. His offensive contributions included a 20-yard reception where he made a defender miss to gain extra yards and a first down, taking the Rams into the Wildcat red zone. He also had a 35 -yard reception that was pretty impressive, as he made the catch running backwards.
The Rams have been relying heavily on junior running back Elliott Sevits in recent games, but it seems as though the Wildcats had done their homework, and their defense really keyed in on the run. Sevits had 11 carries for 48 yards on the night, a seven yard catch, and a rushing 2-point conversion. Although it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet Sevits, along with junior offensive guard, Ace Akers had some key blocks to allow for big gains, first downs, and of course, touchdowns. The offensive line didn’t allow any sacks on the night, and very few pressures of their QB Smith. The Rams didn’t punt all night, and only turned over the ball one time, on the very first drive of the game. It is worth noting that sophomore center, Caden Veatch, who is a vital part of that offensive line, was also flawless on the night as his QB was under center and in the shotgun at various times during the game. Ram fans might take for granted his consistency, but that snap sets up the timing for the whole play, and Veatch’s remarkable steadiness in this role is vital for Rams’ offensive success.
The Rams end Week 7 with a victory, the final score was 60-32 over the Southwest Wildcats. This improves their record to 5-2 for the season. The Rams remain ranked #10 in the state, #1 in their district, and #2 in their conference. As of now the Rams would qualify for a bye during the first week of district tournament play. They will be looking to hold onto that advantage as they finish out their season.
The Rams remaining schedule:
October 13 @ Northland Christian (at Staley HS)
October 20 vs. Slater (Senior Night)
You can find the Rams football team on MaxPreps for full stats after each game as well as season stats and stat leaders. You can also follow the Schuyler Rams Football Facebook page for season