History was made and a standard was set on Friday night, as the Switzerland County varsity football team earned its first victory in school history in convincing fashion with a 32-0 victory over Gallatin County.
A jubilant team of players was joined in the end zone by students, parents and fans following the final horn, all celebrating the culmination of four years of work in starting the football program here from the ground up.
Head coach Ryan Jesop, who has overseen the development of the program since its inception, addressed players and fans, still wet from the celebratory bath of ice water applied by players as the clock wound down.
“That is what playing football is,” the coach told his team. “It is four quarters, ‘mano y mano’, ‘I’m going to knock you back and you can’t stop me’, and that’s exactly what you guys did. This does not stop here. This is the beginning of a great tradition that does not stop tonight. Everybody that played before you. Everybody is part of this tradition, everybody. And everybody is going to continue this tradition. One game doesn’t define us.”
The coach then talked about what was to come, both next week and into the future.
“Next week is what defines us, and then the week after that,” Jesop said. “It goes on and on, until you take off those jerseys, and you watch your sons out here on this field – or daughters, Abby (speaking to female Pacer player Abigail Niswander). This is the start of something great. You guys made this dream come true. Congratulations.”
Athletic Director David Todd then addressed the team.
“I let the coaches do all the talking, so I don’t come up here and talk, I just get to sit back and watch. I thought it was going to be a close game tonight, but 32-0? That’s fantastic!,” Todd said. “There’s a lot of people who have been behind this football program. Mr. Goewert, a huge, huge supporter; and many others who came together, but the person who really had the vision for this is Coach Jesop. He’s really had the vision. He’s been pushing this. This is something that he’s been pushing all along. The most positive guy in the world, always saying, ‘We’re getting better here. We’re getting better here’. Tonight’s game ball goes to Coach Jesop.”
That brought a huge roar from the Pacer faithful.
“Like he said, everybody shares in this,” Jesop said. “And everybody continues to share. Volunteers, parents, Bonnie (Bonnie Baur, head equipment manager), all the administrators, all the fans. Everybody who crowded the board room. Everybody who said it couldn’t happen – it happened tonight!”
Switzerland County got rolling early on Friday night and never looked back, as the offense displayed power running behind tailback Jonny Thompson and coupled that with a stout defense that never allowed Gallatin County even a threat to score.
The Pacers scored early on an eight-yard run by quarterback Casper Stow; and after holding the Wildcats without a first down, Stow took off on a 62-yard scamper that gave Switzerland County a 12-0 lead after one quarter.
The second quarter was scoreless; but after halftime the Pacers came out and again flexed their offensive and defensive firepower, scoring another 20 points to salt the game away.
Switzerland County also saw some huge plays defensively, as Isaac Slover had a big fumble recovery and Justin Green, battled a Wildcat pass in the air on his rush, and then caught the ball and rumbled down the sidelines for a big stop.
But the power of the night was Thompson, who racked up 243 yards rushing on 21 attempts, scoring three touchdowns. He had a long run of 52-yards, but did most of his damage powering through the middle, shaking off Gallatin County defenders as it took a pack of Wildcats to get him to the ground.
Stow again had a big night, putting up 112 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He also had a nine-yard pass completion to Gabe Streett. Kyle Whitham posted 20 yards rushing, and also contributed by connecting on two point after touchdown kicks.
Defensively, Trystan Kielbasa had five tackles; while Brad Rickett had three tackles, including a tackle for loss, and he also recorded a sack. Cody Wilson had a fumble recovery at a key time. Mike Gatto capped an outstanding night at cornerback by recording an interception that snuffed a Wildcat drive.
Harrison Griffis, Dalton Roark, Dakota Baatz, and Streett each had two tackles on the night; while Justice Bledsoe, Nate Edwards,Will Pike, Cade Rider, Brandon Earls, Cameron Niswander, and Gatto each were credited with one tackle.
Kielbasa also contributed on the offensive side of the ball with two rushes for eight yards; and Baatz also had five yards on the ground.
The Pacers look to earn another win tomorrow (Friday) night when Switzerland County travels to Carroll County for a 7 p.m. kickoff.