East Ridge football: With heavy hearts, Raptors win one 'for Braedon'Just hours after the passing of a beloved classmate, the East Ridge football team overcame emotions and a halftime deficit to rival Park to win one for Braedon Hyland.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Just hours after the passing of a beloved classmate, the East Ridge football team overcame emotions and a rival to win one for Braedon Hyland.
“It was about a lot more than football tonight,” East Ridge’s Luke Mlsna said. “This one was for Braedon Hyland.”
Hyland, a member of the Raptors’ football, hockey and track teams, died Friday afternoon from injuries suffered in a car accident on Monday.
Mlsna, a senior receiver, caught the game-winning touchdown against Suburban East Conference and intra-district rival Park, going up over a Wolfpack defender to haul in an eight-yard pass from senior quarterback Brandon Johnson. Mlsna’s score came with 1:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, giving the Raptors (2-5; 2-5 SEC) a 20-14 lead over Park and capping a comeback from a 14-7 halftime deficit.
Park made things extremely interesting to the end.
The Wolfpack (0-7; 0-7 SEC) marched down to the East Ridge 5-yard line and, with 17.5 seconds left on the clock, had two shots at the end zone, but couldn’t score.
Facing a second-and-goal from the 7-yard line, East Ridge sacked Park senior quarterback Kyle Fritz twice to end the game.
“It was tough, they’re a great team and on top of that, the emotions were high,” Mlsna said. “There were points I’d just cry for no reason. I love the guys out there – on both sides of the ball. But, we had to win this game. We needed this one.”
East Ridge head coach Mike Pendino said he’s never coached a game with the circumstances like in Friday’s game.
“I’ve never had something happen like what happened here,” Pendino said. “The worst was getting ready before we went. There was a lot of emotion in this locker room. He had a lot of close friends on this team, let alone another 25 or 30 kids that knew him. He was just a very well-respected and very well-liked kid.”
East Ridge had 331 yards of total offense in the game, with 236 yards rushing. Park had 329 total yards – 187 in the air and 142 on the ground.
East Ridge senior Dayo Ogundepo led the Raptors with 21 carries for 143 yards. Sophomore running back Nick Leach added 81 yards on 12 carries.
For Park, Dylan Smallidge had 128 yards rushing and a touchdown on 26 carries to lead the Wolfpack, while senior quarterback Kyle Fritz was 11-21 passing for 167 yards, along with scoring a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the first half.
After the game, East Ridge and Park players and fans gathered together on the field in honor of Hyland.
“It’s a big win for the kids,” Pendino said. “It was a win we very much needed and it was nice to get.”
See the full story and additional photos in the Oct. 19 issue of the Bulletin