Bakey helps keep Ridley on a roll
MIDDLETOWN >> The rejuvenation of Ridley’s season took another big step forward Friday night when the Green Raiders turned in a strong performance with a 42-20 victory over Penncrest.
For Ridley coach Dave Wood, it was the continuation of a string of solid efforts for the Green Raiders after a rocky 0-4 start to the season.
“We made a couple of adjustments a couple of weeks ago, we redefined some things, made some personnel changes so not as many kids were going both ways and it’s really shown,” Wood said. “When you look at what the offensive line has done and what the (Jack) Bakey kid, our quarterback, is playing really well. With the (Elijah) Yakpasuo kid, the (Dylan) Staley kick, we’re really mixing it up and doing a great job that way.
“The (Tahmir) Wilmore kid came to our defense and he’s all over the field. We’re still young in spots, but I think we’re better off for what we did and the kids are really playing hard.”
While the Green Raiders put forth a dominant effort, it was Penncrest who struck first with an explosive start. The Lions went deep on the game’s first play when quarterback Nick Benecke connected with Jayden Brown for a 76-yard touchdown and quick 7-0 lead for Penncrest.
From there, however, it was all Ridley. The Green Raiders, who improved to 4-4 overall and 4-3 in the Central League, used an overpowering running attack to wear down the Lions (1-7 overall, 1-6 Central) defense. Bakey and Yakpasuo did the majority of the damage for Ridley.
Yakpasuo, who tallied 103 yards on 10 carries, scored on runs of seven and four yards, respectively, but it was Bakey who completely took over.
Ridley’s quarterback was efficient through the air as he completed two of four passes for 54 yards early on. Using his speed and superior vision, Bakey dipped, shook, and danced his way to 118 yards on nine carries for four touchdowns.
It was a superior performance for the senior signal caller.
“Our offensive line played great, we had huge holes to run through, and I think we really just competed well in practice this week,” Bakey said. “Whether it is a run or a pass, we know we just have to go out there and execute, do our assignments, and the play will be positive.”
Bakey was also cognizant of the marked difference between the Green Raiders’ performance of late compared to earlier in the season.
“We’re a completely different team,” Bakey said. “We had a lot of young guys in at the beginning of the year, but now they’ve stepped up big, learned their roles, and we’re just really rolling right now. We’ve got a huge game next week (against Upper Darby).”
Defensively, Ridley was staunch and used excellent play up front to control the game.
Wilmore had 1.5 sacks, while Sean Hinchey (sack), and Myles Turner (half sack) kept pressure on Benecke.
To its credit, Penncrest continued to battle, but it was to no avail; Ridley was just too strong on this night.
“We’re a little banged up and we’re low in numbers, but our guys fight,” said Lions coach Andrew Pidgeon, a former All-Delco quarterback at Ridley. “It doesn’t surprise me that we came out after halftime and played hard. We needed guys to make plays after halftime and they did that.
“I’m proud of them,” Pidgeon added. “When you work out all winter long, all summer long, and all throughout camp, you know these kids love football and they’ve got two more guaranteed opportunities to play football. That’s what they do; they’re football players.”