By John Burbridge firstname.lastname@example.org
CRESCO — Richard Lindon was either a genius or a diabolical madman.
The English leatherworker is credited with inventing the ellipsoidal inflatable ball that was originally used for rugby matches before being modified for American Football.
What makes the ball so ingenious is that it can be launched in comparable distances by way of arm strength or leg strength. What makes it so diabolical is that it’s not round and subject to unpredictable bounces that humble and sometimes humiliate the players trying to corral it.
And when you add water, the ball seems to take on a mind of its own.
There was plenty of water during Friday’s high school football season-opener that featured the Charles City Comets and the hosting Crestwood Cadets. For the most part, the game was plagued by a persistent downpour that bordered on becoming torrential during substantial periods in the second half.
After a scoreless first half, the water-liven ball became more of a factor and seemingly found the endzone by its own designs during a forward fumble by the Cadets. When Crestwood senior receiver Zackary Lane finally pounced on and captured the wayward and slippery object, it was ruled a touchdown.
That with the PAT kick from Henry Kitchen put Crestwood up, 7-0, which proved to be just enough as the Cadets went on to win, 7-6.
Though in defeat, the Comets’ defense was stellar. It held the Cadets to under 3 yards per rushing attempt. Cadet junior Reece Wilson led all ground gainers with 66 yards, but it was on 24 carries.
The biggest play against the Comets was a 17-yard pass play from Cadet quarterback Jon Henry to Lane that advanced Crestwood past midfield during the opening possession of the second half. But on a subsequent third-down snap, Comet senior Jace Cajthaml stuck a Cadet ball carrier in the backfield for a loss prompting a punt.
The punt return was muffed by the Comets, giving back the ball to the Cadets, who were now in business at Charles City’s 17. Soon after, Lane scored the fumble-recovery TD to break the scoreless tie with 7:38 left in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, Charles City in turn took advantage of a turnover to get on the board.
Junior Elliott Sinnwell was able to snare a knocked-loose ball out of the air and advance it 25 yards to inside the Cadet 20.
Several plays later, Comet quarterback Marcus Cranshaw — who until that point had given the drenched fans on both sides fits of excitement with his elusive scrambles in the backfield even when they went for losses — found passage to the end zone on a 14-yard keeper with 2:30 left in the quarter.
But the subsequent PAT kick attempt was blocked, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Sinnwell also had an interception in the first half and was credited with five solo tackles.
Comet junior De’Ontaye Hoefer also had an INT. Senior defensive lineman Ryan Zuspan had seven total tackles and a fumble recovery; and senior linebacker Kelly Ward had a game-high six solo tackles as well as a pass defended for the Comets.
Offensively, the Comets were led by sophomore Trevor Heitz, who rushed for 57 yards on 14 carries.
Charles City will host New Hampton for its home opener Friday with a kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.