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Ottawa Marquette is a ranked team in IHSA Class 1A football and Mooseheart is not, and while the host Ramblers acquitted themselves well, the visiting Crusaders showed the justification in their lofty ranking with a season-opening 56-0 victory.
For Mooseheart (0-1), the opening moments of the game showed how much the team has improved from its 2-7 finish in 2016. The Ramblers moved the ball, showed speed, though the eventually had to punt. While the Crusaders (1-0) did score in that opening quarter, the lead was just 7-0 after 12 minutes of play.
“They were excellent – Ottawa Marquette is Ottawa Marquette,” Mooseheart coach Jacob Pekofske said. “We stuck it to them in the first quarter and we really worked well. But once one mistake happened, then there was another and another.”
The Crusaders effectively settled the game by scoring 40 points in the second quarter while Mooseheart struggled with turnovers, a pair of Ottawa Marquette kickoffs that weren’t recovered and gave the ball back to the Crusaders and an interception.
“I told the team that it’s all the little things that we do that we’ve got to get a little bit better at. I’m proud of these guys. They fought to the end and allowed only one touchdown in the second half. Ottawa Marquette is a phenomenal team, no matter who they had on the field,” Pekofske.
The Crusaders used most of their roster, including two quarterbacks and nine ball carriers. In that second quarter, Mooseheart had difficulty getting its offense on the field. In the third quarter, the Ramblers moved the ball some again, however.
“This group this year is light years ahead of last year,” Pekofske said. “We were resilient and fought to the end and it didn’t matter who we were playing.”
Mooseheart travels to Kirkland Hiawatha on Sept. 1 for a 7 p.m. contest.
“They need to have a bitter taste and a chip on their shoulder from this,” Pekofske said. “But they can’t let that hinder them. Yeah, we lost and you can’t forget that. But we don’t want to have that feeling again.”