Musketeers Are PlayOff Bound

Brian Magee, Special Contributor

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The Red Bud Musketeer football team ended the 2019 regular season in thrilling fashion with a convincing win over the Sparta Bulldogs at home last Friday night. It was Senior Night; senior athletes and their parents were introduced in a pregame ceremony that honored the commitment and sacrifice by the athletes as well as their families. 

The game began with the Red Bud deep man Kaleb Barriger receiving the kick off and returning it 20 yards to the Red Bud 38 yard line where the Musketeer offensive took over. After gains on the ground by Chase Ward behind the fine blocking of the offensive line, Red Bud set up on the 22-yard line. On a third down play, quarterback Jayden Birkner hit tight end Parker Van Dorn for a 22-yard TD strike for six. Sam Carroll split the uprights and the Musketeers jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Sparta had their turn with the ball after taking Carroll’s kick but the Red Bud defense proved too much when defensive tackle Derek Weiser made a stop on third down forcing the Bulldogs to punt. Weiser led the defense in tackles this week with 11, played well at his offensive line position, and even returned a short kick off for 12 yards. 

Sparta found a way to slow the Home Team’s offense midway through the first quarter but the Musketeers clicked once again when Ward scored on an 11-yard touchdown scamper near the end of the frame. The PAT sailed wide but The Boys were ahead 13-0. Ward racked up 104 yards on 14 carries in the first half before injuring his shoulder on the kick off in the second half; he is questionable next week.

The visitors got a bit of a break in the second quarter when a Birkner pass was intercepted by the Sparta safety giving the Bulldogs a chance to get back in the game. The Bulldogs set up their offense near midfield and were able to move the ball deep into Red Bud territory. Sparta finally got on the board on a 6-yard pass for the touchdown; the two-point conversion made it 13-8. The Musketeers got the ball back on the ensuing kick off and began a drive that sputtered and looked as though The Boys were going to have to punt. Red Bud faced a third and long when Birkner went back to pass, everyone was covered so he scrambled and wide receiver Easton Lucht broke for the end zone. Birkner pulled up just shy of the line of scrimmage and threw a ball to the corner of the end zone where Lucht made a circus catch, keeping a foot in bounds to secure the grab and the TD. Carroll was right-on with the PAT to put The Boys up 20-8. Red Bud’s defense shut down the Bulldogs for the remained of the quarter while the hometown offense put another drive together that culminated in a 7-yard TD pass to Van Dorn with less than a minute to play in the half extending the lead to 27-8. Van Dorn caught 4 passes  netting 49 yards for 3 touchdowns while pitching in with 9 tackles and an assist on defense. Birkner was 6 for 9 passing for 86 yards and 3 TD’s and added 20 yards rushing for the night.

Frank Ford took over much of the rushing duties in the second half with Ward out. Ford racked up a whopping 159 yards on 15 carries averaging nearly 11-yards per touch. AJ Truijillo scored twice during the third quarter on runs of 2 and 8 yards respectively. Carroll connected on one PAT finishing the Red Bud scoring ay 40-8 at the end of the third frame.

To the Bulldogs’ credit, they never gave up, putting up 18 points on 3 fourth quarter touchdowns but it was too little, too late. The game ended with a score of 40-26. The Boys finished the season with a record of 5-4, good enough to make the IHSA Playoffs.

The team will travel to Pana, the South Central Conference Champions. The Panthers finished the year with an 8-1 record; their high powered offense will be a challenge for the Red Bud defense. It will be an exciting time, you won’t want to miss out on this one. Make the trip north to support your team. Kick off is at 2:00.