Sunday, September 26, 2021
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Chiefs drop home opener against Wildcats

by SCOT HEISEL
Lake County Leader | September 14, 2021 12:00 PM

RONAN — A young Ronan football squad opened its 2021 home schedule with high hopes, but visiting Columbia Falls did most of the celebrating Friday night as the Wildcats (2-0) rolled to a 42-6 victory.

The Wildcats offense had consistently big gains running on the edges against the Chiefs (2-0). Sophomore quarterback Cody Schweikert was able to take long looks in the pocket and often gouged the Ronan defense up the middle on a run. He finished with two rushing TDs and another through the air.

The Chiefs offense threatened to score on its second possession. Starting on their own 20, they marched the field with big runs from sophomore running back Tristan Fisher and a middle screen to Fisher from junior quarterback Caleb Cheff that led to a first down on a third-and-9 play. The drive stalled at the Wildcats’ 26-yard line, however, after a few incompletions and a stuffed QB keeper.

Cheff set up the drive with an interception from the secondary on defense. The Wildcats were looking to go up 14-0 early, but he stepped in front of a receiver in the end zone and got the ball back for the Chiefs.

Ronan sophomore receiver/defensive back Colter Cornwell and junior lineman Hunter Learn both suffered first-half injuries that halted play, but both players returned in the second half and were available the rest of the night.

The Chiefs trailed 21-0 at half, but they received the kick to open the second half with a shot to get back into the game. On their second play, a second-and-9 from their own 21, Cheff’s pass across the middle was picked off by Schweikert at safety, who returned the pick to the Ronan 7. Three plays later Schweikert rumbled 2 yards on a QB keeper for the Wildcats’ fourth TD.

Ronan’s offense shifted from a balanced attack to a run-heavy approach in the second half, particularly late when they relied heavily on Fisher’s rushing. The sophomore carried the ball eight times on Ronan’s lone scoring drive, which ended with Cheff rushing for 3 yards over the tackle on a QB keeper. His ensuing pass to James Kenelty on the conversion try was broken up, and Ronan trailed 35-6 with 4:01 remaining.

Despite the rough loss, Ronan head coach Matt Detwiler said he’s seen progress from his team early on in the season.

“We’ve improved a lot from Week 1,” Detwiler said. “Even (Columbia Falls coach Jasxon Schweikert) said we looked a lot different tonight than the film he saw from last week. Now we just need to build on that each week. We’re seeing more consistency on offense. Defensively, we thought we had things dialed in, but that’s a very good football team right there.”

The Chiefs travel to rival Polson (2-0) on Friday night. A donation of two cans of non-perishable food gets you free entry to the game.

Wildcats 42, Chiefs 6

CF — 7 14 14 7

RON — 0 0 0 6

First quarter

CF — Rowdy White 25-yard run (Kai Golan kick) 9:06

Second quarter

CF — Isaiah Roth 5-yard run (Golan kick) 7:31

CF — Jace Duval 26-yard pass from Cody Schweikert (Golan kick) 1:55

Third quarter

CF — Schweikert 2-yard run (Golan kick) 9:52

CF — Schweikert 5-yard run (Golan kick) 4:35

Fourth quarter

RON — Caleb Cheff 3-yard run (pass failed) 4:01

CF — Mason Peters 35-yard pass from Reggie Sapa (Golan kick) 3:24

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Alicia Lipscomb directs the Ronan High School band during Friday's game. (Scot Heisel/Lake County Leader)

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Ronan junior quarterback Caleb Cheff (11) rolls out against the Columbia Falls defense. (Scot Heisel/Lake County Leader)