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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Red Raiders ride Ritts to win over O’Hara

St. Francis High School has already had two quarterbacks go on to play at the next level this decade.

Even though he’s only five games into his high school career, Jake Ritts is already showing signs that he could join them.

Ritts was pulled up to varsity halfway through last season and started the Red Raiders’ final game, a six-point loss to St. Joe’s in the Monsignor Martin semifinals. Despite the loss, the quarterback was 16 of 27 for 281 yards and a score leaving Red Raider nation excited for the future.

So far this season, Ritts has been everything the Frannies have wanted and more, throwing for 863 yards and 11 touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ first three games this season.

Saturday, the sophomore continued his success with five touchdowns through the air and one on the ground as St. Francis improved to 2-2 beating Cardinal O’Hara, 49-34, in Monsignor Martin Football action.

“Honestly, yes because I’m really confident in my teammates,” said Ritts, on whether he expected to have this kind of success so early. “It’s not just me, it’s everyone else.”

Jerry Smith, who has had a lot of strong quarterbacks in his three decades as the head coach at St. Francis, thinks very highly of Ritts.

“His skill level is lights out,” Smith said of Ritts. “If he keeps developing he could be the best prospect we’ve ever had. He has a never die attitude and he sees the field very well. There’s a reason for everything he does.”

Ritts got to work immediately leading his team down the field on their first two drives of the game.

He hit Mark Arrizabaiga for a 10-yard touchdown pass and then connected with Dominik Thomas for 71 yards to give his team a 14-0 lead with three minutes, 14 seconds left in the first quarter.

O’Hara’s signal caller, CJ Masters, answered back. The senior found Jermaine Haynes Jr. for 11 yards to start the second quarter. Back-to-back St. Francis penalties gave the Hawks the ball at the 15, later setting up a 15-yard touchdown run by Jamall Lewis Jr.

Ritts came back on the very next drive with five completions to as many receivers leading his team to a 59-yard scoring drive capped off by an 11-yard catch by Antonio Corsi.

A solid return by Justin Hemphill on the ensuing kickoff set up another Masters to Haynes touchdown, this time a 44-yard pass and catch.

Ritts found Thomas a couple times on the next drive, capping it off with a two-yard pass to the corner of the end zone giving St. Francis a 28-12 lead at the half.

The Red Raiders quickly added on in the second half as Dan Bowning came up with the pick-six.

O’Hara, however, continued to battle and gave St. Francis all they could handle in the third quarter.

The Hawks took advantage of another strong kick return, getting the ball at the St. Francis 28-yard line. A few plays later, Quantrail Moss came down with a five-yard touchdown reception.

On their next drive, Haynes Jr came up with a clutch play making a 26-yard catch on a fourth and 15. O’Hara finished off the drive on a 13-yard pass to Hemphill to cut the St. Francis lead to 35-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

“I just told everybody to calm the heck down,” Smith said. “We just had to calm down and play the game. Games like this can get out of hand real fast. We needed to control the ball a little more.”

St. Francis calmed down and Ritts connected Thomas on back to back plays to get the Red Raiders back to a two-score lead with under 10 minutes left.

“We were fortunate that Ritts was on today,” Smith said. “He couldn’t be just an okay quarterback. He had to be a very good quarterback today and he was.”

Broadnax scored a one-yard touchdown for O’Hara on the final play of the game.

Next week, the Red Raiders will host Cathedral Prep on Saturday at 7 p.m. O’Hara will head to St. Mary’s of Lancaster on Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff.

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