Evansville/Albany wins on newly christened home field
Ryan Cashore and the Evansville/Albany Blue Devils knew a playoff spot was on the line Friday night.
Still, just one record mattered. They wanted to open play at Ron Grovesteen Field with a victory.
After Grovesteen was honored with a field-naming ceremony in the pregame, Cashore rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns, and the Blue Devils used 28 consecutive points to top East Troy 41-21.
The victory moved Evansville/Albany to 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the Rock Valley North, clinching a WIAA playoff berth. East Troy was knocked from postseason contention, falling to 3-5 and 2-4.
“This is perfect,” Cashore said. “We’re 1-0 on Ron Grovesteeen Field. It couldn’t have gone any better.
“I hope we can get a win next week and get a home playoff game.”
East Troy, without starting quarterback Brandon Matz due to injury, opened the game in impressive fashion, using 14 plays to march down the field and grab a 7-0 lead.
But the Devils matched the Trojans with a sustained drive of their own, and it appeared the teams would go blow-for-blow offensively.
They traded touchdowns again later in the first half, and the Trojans led 14-13 with 9:13 to go before halftime thanks to Charlie Kutschenreuter’s five-yard scoring scamper.
Cashore, who carried the ball 20 times, scored his second touchdown less than five minutes later to put Evansville/Albany back on top for good.
“I think we’re just starting to come together,” said Grovesteen, who took over the Blue Devils’ job in 1973. “At the line of scrimmage, the linemen are starting to come to play better as a team.”
Grovesteen’s team really seized momentum thanks to a couple of big plays that book-ended the halftime break.
East Troy drove inside the red zone in the final minute of the half, but Evansville/Albany senior Isaiah Shell intercepted a pass at the goal line to preserve a 20-14 lead.
Then, when the Blue Devils got the ball to open the second half, they wasted little time. Matt Sperry connected for a second passing touchdown to Nathan Redders, this time a 29-yard catch-and-run off a swing pass.
“You have to be (balanced),” Grovesteen said. “We’re more of a running team, but Matt is starting to do a better job of passing the ball.”
East Troy’s offense never got untracked in the second half, and the Blue Devils were up 27 points by the time the Trojans ended a 28-0 run.
Kutschenreuter finished with 110 yards on the ground and 103 through the air, with three total touchdowns. Zack Lamb rushed 24 times for 124 yards for the Trojans.
Sperry attempted just nine passes, but completed five for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
The Blue Devils play at Edgerton next Friday in a battle between two will-be playoff teams.
“(The postseason) is what you work for and what you train for,” Grovesteen said. “Now we get a shot to move on to the next level, but we’ve got one more game. That’ll be a doozy.”