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Ridley eyes playoffs after dominant win

RIDLEY TWP. >> Harriton’s football team may not have the horses or the numbers to hang with a Ridley football team that is enjoying a standout season, but the Rams played with guts and determination to the end Friday night in suffering a 55-0 Central League loss to the Green Raiders at Phil Marion Field.

“They had a lot of heart,” said Ridley center and co-captain Zach Wagner. “They played hard.”

Ridley’s defense held Harriton (0-8, 0-7 league) to just one first down in the first quarter while scoring on a 33-yard pass from Cade Stratton to to Allen Martin and a five-yard run by Stratton to give the Raiders a 14-0 lead.
Ridley (8-1, 7-1) continued to dominate. The Rams did not move the chains at all in the second quarter, while the Raiders built a 34-0 lead by intermission.

“They have decent size but so many of them have to go both ways,” said Wagner, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 260 pounds. “I think that definitely affected them. We don’t have many players who play both ways and I think that is the reason for our success.”

Dave Wood, in his first year as Ridley head coach after nearly 25 years coaching at the collegiate level, said he made sure his players stayed focused, respecting their opponent while keeping it all business.

“We have a new culture here,” Wood said. “We work every day, no matter who the opponent is. We practice and prepare hard every day.”

Wood said he likes his chances if his team continues to develop.

“We have a chance to finish 9-1,” said Wood, referring to league play. “We can’t go backwards. Tonight we had a chance to play a lot of kids we may need as we go further. We need to get better every day.”

Wagner said Coach Wood’s message was clear coming into the game against Harriton.

“We come out here, we play hard,” Wagner said. “We look at every game as preparation for a bigger game. We play every game like we played Garnet Valley (a 28-20 win). After every drive, every play we tell each other… ‘No letup.’”
One thing Wood can rest easy on is the chemistry between Wagner and Stratton, both seniors.

The exchanges between the center and quarterback were smooth and effortless Friday night. They have been playing together for two years and it shows.

“Obviously I trust him back there,” Wagner said. “I know he’s going to get the job done.”

His signal caller agreed.

“We always know where the other is going to be,” Stratton said. “We trust each other. As long as we have trust we know we’re going to be okay.”

Ridley has two scheduled games remaining against Conestoga and Upper Darby. The PIAA playoffs will determine whether they play Thanksgiving Day against longtime rival Interboro.

Wagner and Stratton admitted the Raiders have playoffs on their mind.

“We definitely think about it a lot,” Stratton said. “It’s something we really want to do. We’re seniors. It means a lot playing with these guys right now. And having the great season we’re having right now and it would be great to get into the playoffs with these guys, knowing this is our last ride and give it everything we’ve got.”

Wagner said he would like the Raiders to make a statement as the season moves into the home stretch.

“The playoffs would prove something,” Wagner said. “I think we can make some noise if we keep playing very well.”

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