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Football: Raptors cap homecoming with win over CDH

Running back AJ Tittle finds a hole in the Cretin-Derham Hall defense during Friday's homecoming game at East Ridge High School. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)1 / 2
East Ridge quarterback Ty Okada rushes out of the pocket on Friday. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)2 / 2

The East Ridge football team continued its march through the East Metro Blue subdivision on Friday.

The Raptors defeated Cretin-Derham Hall 21-7 on homecoming, taking sole possession of first place in the subdivision.

But it wasn’t easy. The Raptors lost star running back Dominik London to an ankle sprain in the first quarter, and two fumbles throughout the game did not help.

Senior running back AJ Tittle helped pick up East Ridge’s run-first offense. London expressed his confidence in Tittle after leaving the game, adding that he didn't think his injury was too serious.

The senior running back Tittle did not disappoint. He rushed for more than 100 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown in the second half to put East Ridge ahead 21-7.

“I was just trying to do my best for the team,” Tittle said. “Just do it all for the team. When (London) went down, I was just like, ‘I have to carry the team.’”

Jaron Pittman scored East Ridge’s first touchdown of the game on a two-yard carry early in the second quarter.

Safety TJ Kelly added to the lead at 5:47 mark of the second quarter. He intercepted a pass and ran it back 30 yards to put East Ridge ahead 14-0.

Cretin-Derham Hall’s lone touchdown of the game was scored on a short quarterback sneak by Jackson Crawford with 1:53 left before halftime.

Not only did the Raptors’ offense perform well without their starting running back, but the defense also held Cretin-Derham Hall to just seven points.

“The biggest thing about our defense is their football IQ,” head coach Dan Fritze said. “They come in knowing our game plan, and they do their jobs. It’s as simple as that.”

Fritze said he and the Raptors coaching staff did not panic when London left the game with the ankle sprain. They stuck to their game plan of moving the ball on the ground.

Much like London, Fritze expressed his confidence in the fast running back Tittle.

“AJ, he’s a starter for us,” he said. “It just turns into him having a different role, and we have complete confidence in his abilities.”

Friday’s game was played between two state-ranked teams in the Associated Press Class 6A poll. Cretin-Derham Hall came in as the state’s fifth-ranked team while East Ridge was seventh.

The win now means the Raptors are the only team left without a loss in the East Metro Blue District subdivision. East Ridge is 4-0 while Mounds View and Cretin-Derham Hall are now tied at 3-1. East Ridge’s overall record this season is 4-1.

With a four-game winning streak and a 21-7 win, there was not too much for the Raptors to be negative about on homecoming.

“I thought the team played well on both sides of the ball, too,” Kelly said. “I’m really proud of how we played, and I thought the coaches gave us a good game plan.”

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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