RaptorsBy Bob Balgemann


LOVES PARK – The Rock River Raptors semi-professional football team looked sharp Saturday night as it battled Waukesha to a 14-14 tie at halftime.

But then a hovering thunderstorm rolled in during intermission, bringing with it a 30-minute delay in the resumption of play. What ensued was postponing the completion of the game to a yet-to-be-determined date.

General Manager Darren Schmidt said the game couldn’t just be cancelled because both team need it. The Raptors (0-5) are desperate for a win as they try to become playoff eligible, while the Raiders (3-1) are hoping for a first-place finish and home field advantage in the postseason.

Rock River’s offense was in sync for much of the half Saturday night, as it returned home after two consecutive road games. Home contests are played at 7 p.m. Saturdays on a new artificial turf field adjacent to the Indoor Sports Center, off Riverside Boulevard.

Passes from quarterback Adam Becker (Boylan Catholic High School) were crisp and mostly on target to his receivers, Antwon Jones (Belvidere) and Deon Sanders (Beloit Memorial). The running game was paced by Matt Stringini (Belvidere), Paul Barmore (Boylan) and Peter Bell Jr. (Rockford East).

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Brad Ford (Belvidere) is now handling kicking chores and early in the game he boomed a 54-yard punt that pinned Waukesha deep in its end of the field.

Defensively, Edward Robinson put a hit on the Waukesha quarterback that jarred the ball loose and it was intercepted by James Dock early in the first quarter.  And another former Belvidere Buc, Muaice Jackson, broke up a couple of passes in addition to returning kickoffs.

Dock’s interception, at the Raider five-yard line, set up Rock River’s first touchdown. It came on the first play as Stringini swept left end with 2:17 remaining in the opening quarter. Ford’s extra point kick was blocked, but the Raptors were up, 6-0.

After Waukesha came back to edge ahead, 7-6, early in the second period, the Raptors regained the lead with 5:51 left until halftime.

Jones capped the 70-yard drive by catching a 25-yard scoring pass from Becker on a crossing pattern. Jones juggled the ball in the middle of the field, then gained control and scampered untouched for the score. Barmore ran the two-point conversion for a 14-7 lead.

Rock River was saddled with a 15-yard un-sportsmanship like penalty after Jones somersaulted into the end zone with no Waukesha defender nearby.

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The Raptors appeared to have the halftime lead in hand after Bobby Farrar (Freeport) intercepted a pass at the Raiders’ none-yard line with just less than two minutes remaining.

But Rock River fumbled the ball away moments later, at its own three-yard-line, and the Raiders capitalized for the touchdown with 1:40 left until intermission.

The Raptors drove to the Waukesha 44 in the closing moments but settled for a quick kick that pinned the Raiders at their four as time wound down.

Rock River will be home this Saturday (June 20) at 7 p.m. against the winless Wilmot Phoenix.


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