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Football Notes: Vandals near playoff berth

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By Andrew Harner

The last time Vandalia traveled to Southwestern, the Birds clipped the Vandals with a late score, ruining the team’s playoff hopes in 2010.

This time around, the Vandals will be looking to assure themselves a spot in the postseason, but the Birds will again be looking to play spoiler.

An unpredictable team so far this season, Southwestern is 3-3, and comes into the game with the momentum of back-to-back upset road wins against Pana and Staunton.

Combined with the fact that it’s Southwestern’s homecoming weekend makes the game one of the most important ones on Southwestern's schedule.

It's also a big one for the Vandals (5-1), as earning their sixth win would give them an automatic berth to the state playoffs.

With all the hype, Vandalia coach John Stout said that if players just worry about what they can control, the outcome will take care of itself.

“We have to keep our focus narrow,” he said. “We can’t look at who we're playing, because every time you go out there, you want to play well and win.

“If we do what we can do, then the score will be what it’s supposed to be.”

Southwestern has shown an ability to slow down offenses this season, allowing 15 or fewer points in all but one of its games, but its offense has scored the third-fewest points in the conference.

The Vandals have the No. 1 scoring defense – 14.3 points allowed per game – and the No. 3 scoring offense – 37.6 points per game.

That, hopefully, will make for a closer game than the last two for the Vandals, which saw them win by a combined 95-12.

“They have some good athletes, and shut Staunton down last week, so we have to execute like we did against Hillsboro,” Stout said. “They usually have something up their sleeve that you don’t expect, so we have to prepared for the unexpected.”

The game will be played on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Piasa, instead of during the traditional Friday night time slot.

Pink bowl

The game between Greenville and Vandalia at Mark Greer Field on Oct. 19 has been declared the “Pink Bowl” by Greenville Regional Hospital.

During the game, players will have pink wristbands and towels available to them in promotion of breast cancer awareness.

Prior to and at the game, the hospital will be selling shirts for each school.

A bit under

Senior Tim Ritchey battled sickness all last week but was able to play on Friday.

After missing several days of school and practices, Ritchey started under center for the Vandals against Hillsboro last Friday and played well in the first half.

He carried the ball eight times for 60 yards and a touchdown and threw one pass for 16 yards.

“Yesterday was the first day he practiced,” Stout said on Friday night. “Yesterday, we had a walk-through, so today was the first day he had done any physical activity.”

Senior Wade Cowger and sophomore Collin Nestleroad took over the quarterbacking duties in the second half.

A night of firsts

There were many firsts for Vandal players during the game against Hillsboro. Some of those included the following:

•Ryan Bayles: first career touchdown
•Chase Woolsey: first career interception
•Zxavier Denton: first career tackle for loss
•Robby Lott: first career sack
•Dalton Smith: first career sack
•Dylan Reeter: first career tackle
•Cowger: first tackle for loss on the season
•Alex Newsom: first tackle for loss on the season

In addition, senior Luke Smith’s 108 yards and three touchdowns were both career-highs.

He’s back

After missing three point-after touchdown kicks in each weeks four and five, senior Ryan Ambuehl was a perfect 6-for-6 on his attempts against Hillsboro.

“Ryan thought he had something to prove,” Stout said. “We really worked hard on it with a rush this week.
“Hopefully, we are in a groove now.”

Scoring summary
Friday, Sept. 28
vs. Hillsboro
First Quarter
•VHS: 11:20 – 6-yard run by Alex Newsom (Ryan Ambuehl kick).
•VHS: 2:13 – 5-yard run by Luke Smith (Ambuehl kick).
Second Quarter
•VHS: 10:55 – 34-yard run by L. Smith (Ambuehl kick).
•VHS: 6:35 – 15-yard run by L. Smith (Ambuehl kick).
•VHS: 5:51 – 7-yard run by Ambuehl (Ambuhel kick).
•VHS: 0:21.2 – 3-yard run by Tim Ritchey (Ambuehl kick).
Fourth Quarter
•HHS: 11:09 – 3-yard run by Luke Cerutti (2-point conversion failed).
•VHS: 3:33 – 23-yard run by Ryan Bayles (Bayles kick failed).

Around the SCC
Friday, Sept. 28
•Vandalia 48, Hillsboro 6
•Carlinville 63, Gillespie 27
•Greenville 49, Pana 14
•Piasa 18, Staunton 15
•Roxana 20, Litchfield 18

Standings
•Vandalia, 5-1
•Carlinville, 5-1
•Greenvile, 5-1
•Southwestern, 3-3
•Pana, 3-3
•Staunton, 3-3
•Gillespie, 2-4
•Roxana, 2-4
•Litchfield, 1-5
•Hillsboro, 1-5

Next week
Friday, Oct. 5
•Carlinville at Hillsboro
•Roxana at Gillespie
•Greenville at Staunton
•Pana at Litchfield
Saturday, Oct. 6
•Vandalia at Southwestern