St. Joseph Lafayette travels to Hawthorne Heights
A good crowd on a pretty nice evening, all the hoopla that goes with the start of another football season, even a special ceremony honoring the late Bob Kirgan for his 44 years of service on the chain gang at Hawthorne Heights.
In the end, however, Friday night's outcome hinged on size and speed on the one side, and a huge amount of inexperience on the other.
St. Joseph Lafayette rolled to a 32-0 halftime lead, scoring in every quarter of a 52-16 decision over the Bulldogs in their first contest with Ty Harrison as Mexico High School's 20th head coach.
"They're probably one of the better teams we'll play all season," the former MHS assistant noted. "They have 19 seniors, a bunch of whom started as sophomores. We knew we had our hands full.
"We knew we'd be outsized, and outsized a lot, up front and knew they had a lot of speed. We were in the right spot to make tackles but couldn't because they simply outran us."
The Fighting Irish broke a 32-yard touchdown run some four minutes into the game and never looked back. A 24-point second period put SJL on the verge of a running clock after halftime. The Irish led 46-0 before Mexico scored twice in the final period.
Senior quarterback Matt Ridgway, who completed 13 of 22 passes for 147 yards, figured in both Mexico touchdowns. He dashed 40 yards down the left sideline to break SJL's shutout bid with 8:52 remaining, then teamed up with Tyler Bracht on a 26-yard scoring toss with 50 seconds remaining.
The Bulldogs made good on both their two-point conversions, first a run by Alex Hall and second a Ridgway pass to Chance Harper.
"We did some things well and those are things we have to build on. And we obviously have to improve on the things we didn't do well," the MHS coach said. "Our defense did force a couple of turnovers, but we've got to keep working on running the ball and that's hard to do when you're outmanned up front."
The schedule doesn't get any easier for Harrison and his squad in Week 2. The Bulldogs travel to California, an 18-7 winner over Boonville, for another non-league test.
"We can't be discouraged. I told my staff we have to stay positive," Harrison said. "Believe it or not, we have a lot of kids who didn't play varsity football last year.
"If we're going to have any success this season, our young team must grow up quickly. We've got to improve from week to week."
Next home date for Mexico will be Sept. 14 vs. NCMC rival Hannibal.