CULVER — The progress that South Central achieved since being thumped in the second week of the season against Culver was nothing short of inspired.
Some may have pegged the Satellites as major underdogs going into the semifinals of Class A Sectional 41. It’s showing against Culver on Friday came up just short, but the game could have gone either way as the Satellites season ended with a 14-6 loss.
“The game came down to three blown plays,” said Satellites head coach Buzz Schoff. “The fumble we had after a punt, the score that came in the air afterward, and a fullback trap which we had seen lots of times tonight, finally breaks for a score. You take those away and we could have won 6-0.”
Culver (7-4) was first to score shortly after South Central (3-8) lost a fumble during a punt return after it stopped the Cavs on a fourth and 7. The Satellites stuck with their game plan of stacking the box to combat Culver’s running attack, so Culver went to the air as senior quarterback Donavan Ziaja found Damian Sullivan for a 28-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was good after senior running back Zac Ditmire followed a unified line push into the end zone.
On the following drive, the Satellites responded in kind with a dynamic attack on the ground and air. South Central got the chains moving after a reverse and quarterback draw by Brady Glisic put the Satellites in good position to score. Glisic found Zack Christy in the end zone after an 11-yard touchdown pass that was bobbled and caught. After a failed 2-point conversion, the game stood at 8-6 in the second quarter.
The Satellites defense had its weapons on full display throughout the entirety of the game. South Central managed to stop several fourth and short attempts, including a Culver drive that began at its own 38-yard line.
Culver kept the ball on the ground throughout the drive, mounting four first downs and getting the ball all the way to South Central’s 10-yard line. However, the Satellites managed a big stop just before half time thanks to solid efforts from sophomore defensive back Nick Notaro, Jake Osburn and Andrew Karsten, to name a few.
“Sometimes you just have to survive,” said Cavaliers head coach Mike Zehner. “The way their defense made stops tonight, we didn’t make the big plays we usually do, and how they all play and are coached, they are a hard team to score against. They got so much better since the first time we played them, but we keep the ball on the ground, that’s our style.”
The Cavs dedication to the run game coupled with a few surprise passes put the time of possession advantage firmly in their control. Late in the third quarter, Culver mounted a drive that, in hindsight, sealed the victory for the home team after a 31-yard run from Ditmire. This came at the heals of yet another long and sustained drive which took precious time off the clock, forcing the Satellites to go to the air late in the game.
The Satellites fought hard on its last drive of the season, which began at their own 18-yard line. The drive began with a fumble for a short loss and an offside penalty. However, Glisic and Christy connected yet again for a big 20-yard play to move the chains on fourth down. Soon after, an unsportsmanlike penalty and a few decent runs by Osburn put the ball into Cavaliers territory before Culver’s defense rose to make the final stop of the game after a pass was broken up.
“No one realizes the heart that it takes to keep that score what it was tonight,” said Schoff. “The loss hurts, and they live to fight another day and our season is over. But you look at that first game and tonight, and I am proud of our guys.”
Schoff acknowledged the loss of four seniors in Osburn, Logan Notaro, Christy and Karsten, and the impact their absences will have for next year, but was also optimistic of the road ahead.
“These guys are going to be hard to replace on the field and the leadership they bring to the others will be missed," he said. "But we have a good core intact with our juniors and younger guys. We will work during the off season, and be ready for next year.”
Class A Sectional 41
Culver 14, South Central 6
Zack Christy scored the Satellites touchdown.