took two days to complete, but in the end the wait was well
worth it as Rocky River crushed Highland in its opener. Here,
the Pirates, led by coach Ron Lewis, Bobby Fitzsimmons (3),
Kevin Orris (57) and John Gipson (20), celebrate after the big
win. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)
in a bottle for Pirates
By Matt Pawlikowski
Published Aug. 29, 2007
took two days to complete, compliments of a light show by Mother
Nature, but it was well worth the wait, as Rocky River did a little
light show of its own, as in lighting up the scoreboard with numbers.
What started on a night where the team and community
paid tribute to a true American hero, and one of their own, former
Pirate Danny Scherry, who lost his life while serving his country
in Iraq, it ended on a dreary Saturday morning with a 42-20 win
“We tried to wait as long as we could on Friday; sure,
I would have liked to have finished the game then,” said Pirate
coach Ron Lewis. “I think our kids were bored with two-a-days and
ready to play, and especially on Friday night, they made a big deal
about not winning the game for Danny, but instead, by honoring him
and playing football like he would.”
Somewhere upstairs, you can bet that Scherry had a
smile on his face, as it’s exactly what Rocky River did.
With 10:57 on the board, Kevin Kellogg saw to it.
His hit on Highland quarterback Nick Knerem forced an errant toss
of the ball, which Sean Belanger promptly picked up and raced into
the end zone with.
“That was pretty exciting to be a part of that,” said
Kellogg, who missed last season due to injury. “It’s just great
to be back and be able to help.”
Help it did, and at just 1:03 into the game, the Pirates
led 6-0 to the delight of the full house. After holding the Hornets
to three and out on the next series, it was time for the Andy Breidigam
Show to begin.
With 6:58 remaining, he found Adam Brinkman for a
49-yard strike to make it a 14-0 game. Then on the next series,
it was the B-to-B connection again, this time from 22 yards out,
and River found itself with a 21-0 lead with 4:09 left in the first
“The line did a great job of blocking; I had a lot
of time back there, and to have a back like Gipson, we have the
weapons,” said Breidigam. “We were tired of two-a-days. We just
wanted to get out there and play.”
Highland was able to get some momentum rolling in
the second quarter and scored, but Adam Voll blocked the PAT, and
once again River was rolling. The offense seemed to build off that,
despite being pinned down deep in its own territory with 11:15 left
in the second quarter.
Nine plays and nearly four minutes later, they were
in familiar turf again, the end zone, as this time it was Belanger’s
turn to score, making it a 28-6 rout. Things were going so well
for River that at that juncture, Breidigam had 174 yards in the
air. Right after the score, though, came the lightning, forcing
players off the field with just 7:19 until half.
Officials waited until 9:10 before postponing the
game, despite no rain and the lightning being over the lake.
the game resumed on Saturday, it appeared to the normal eye that
the Hornets might have gained a little edge just as all the momentum
that River carried may have worn off. During Highland’s first series,
they drove down the field and scored, making it a game. But the
Hornets also tossed everything at the Pirates but the kitchen sink
Two series later, the Pirates’ cannons began firing
again, this time with another strike to Belanger from 17 yards out,
making it a 35-14 game. The Pirates would strike one more time,
with 9:44 left. Like all his other plays, it too was a pretty one
to Brinkman, this time for 66-yards.
For the game, Breidigam was an incredible 16 of 19
for 294 yards and five touchdowns. Brinkman was just as impressive,
ending the night with 194 yards receiving on six catches.
“It’s just great,” said Brinkman. “Last year everybody
used to tease me about not being able to get into the end zone,
so this made it all worth it. But everyone played well.”
Gipson, who is coming off a 1,000 yard rushing year,
also hit a milestone as he hit the century mark on just 14 carries.
Although he didn’t cross the end zone, he was still pleased.
“Anytime you put 40 points on the board, you have
to feel happy,” he said. “The thing about us is if you take away
one guy, you have to deal with the other guys like Brinkman, Belanger
and [fullback Adam] Dunne. The line blocked extremely well, and
I think that they have a chip on their shoulder because everyone
talked about them being our weak spot. But we have athletes who
are quick and fast.”
While Breidigam was stellar on offense, the other
thing that kept the Pirates schooner rolling was its defensive unit.
Highland may be called the Hornets, but it was Pirates who swarmed
all over them like a pack of bees.
In addition to Kellogg, also leading the way was Breidigam’s
twin brother Matt, who had 16 tackles in the game. Zach Youseff
also had a monster two days, recording 17. Bobby Fitzsimmons was
also in on a lot of tackles.
“I really wanted to go out and see if I could do what
I did last year,” said Matt Breidigam who was coming off shoulder
surgery. “This was a team effort. It was tough coming back on Saturday,
but Highland had to pull everything out of their aresenal to get
a score. We’ve worked our butts off getting here, and there is no
‘I.’ Everyone played well.”
While the entire team played with heart, if there
was one player who gutted things out for the Pirates, it was Dunne.
Struggling with a severe sinus infection, he not only was great
on defense, but also managed 27 yards on five rushes and had two
receptions for 16 yards.
Although it is tough playing a game on two consecutive
days, when asked if it was worth the wait, all you got were smiles.
“It was a little tougher and took us some time to
get the momentum back, plus our bodies still felt it from the night
before,” said Andy Breidigam. “We were hyped up as a team on Friday
night, then had to do it again in the morning.”
The Pirates take on Trinity this Saturday night at
Bedford Stadium. It’s a game that the players are looking forward
to, especially considering the fact that Trinity has beaten River
the past two years, and kept them from a perfect sregular eason
slate last year.
“We really want to beat Trinity,” said Andy Breidigam.
“They’ve beaten us the last few years. We’re taking it one game
at a time, and we’ll see if we can come out on top. This was a good
start to the season though.”