The Journal Gazette
Saturday, September 19, 2020 4:50 pm

Football notebook: Multi-faceted player leads Lions

The Journal Gazette

Ask Leo football coach Jared Sauder about Rylan Crawford and he’ll pummel you with praise.

“He really is the complete package, a great, great football player,” Sauder said of the 6-foot-3, 180-pound junior.

While he’s become cliché to say a player is so athletic he can play anywhere on the field, Crawford is proving the statement with the Lions. He’s played quarterback, tight end, receiver, cornerback and safety.

“I can’t say enough about that kid and what a team player he is, what a coachable kid he is, a leader as a junior,” Sauder said. “We really do feel comfortable putting him almost anywhere on the field. When he’s in at tight end, he’s blocking, you know, those big guys. And then you can split him out and he’ll run routes. Defensively, he can cover a single receiver as a corner, or he can cover zone as a safety.”

The East Noble Knights, defending state runners-up in Class 4A, found out just how good Crawford was in losing 24-0 to the Lions on Friday night.

Crawford preserved a 10-0 lead by intercepting the ball at his own 3-yard line late in the first half and then picked off another pass late in the third quarter, though his return for a touchdown was called back because of an illegal block.

Leo (4-1) held East Noble (3-2) to only 186 offensive yards.

Leo’s Kaeden Miller rushed 16 times for 122 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown.

Norwell’s Riley excels

Norwell quarterback/defensive back Eli Riley had a banner Friday night in the Knights' 43-8 home victory over New Haven. The senior was responsible for 220 yards and four touchdowns on offense, including a 63-yard run in the first quarter in which he made two cuts in the secondary and raced all the way to the end zone to put Norwell up 14-0. He scored three times on the ground.

On defense, Riley picked off a pass from New Haven quarterback Jakar Williams and returned it 32 yards, setting the Knights up at the Bulldogs' 13-yard line. He finished the drive on offense, hitting wideout Isaiah Brege with a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-0.

"Eli's a great kid, he's a great leader for us," Norwell coach Josh Gerber said. "We're getting to the point now where we've got enough weapons that we don't have to rely just on Eli. Luke Graft made some nice catches, Max Ringger had some nice (runs), Isaiah Brege played an outstanding game offensively and defensively.

"We've got some weapons to surround Eli. ... We're really happy that Eli doesn't have to carry the load. He was a great leader tonight for us, managed the game well, made the right throws, he put them on the money, had some great runs for us. Defensively, he's kind of a quarterback back there, making sure people get where they need to be. We count on him for a lot."

Spartans' coach back on sideline

Homestead picked up its fourth straight victory by beating Snider 33-3. And this time, their coach actually got to be there on the sidelines.

Spartans coach Chad Zolman was under quarantine at home the previous week and had to watch from afar as his team beat Bishop Dwenger in triple overtime.

"It was tough. I had never experienced it in that form," Zolman said. "About 10 or 11 years ago I missed a couple games, but that was a different situation, I was out of state. And this one I'm sitting in the house. I can hear the school from where I'm at, when the band's playing.

"It was intense. By the end, my whole family was going crazy. Our neighbors heard us and said they heard us screaming and yelling. But it was tough, I would much rather be on the sideline."


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