Bulldogs win DVL crown
McLouth staves off late Pleasant Ridge rally, remains undfeated
McLouth city fathers and mothers don't have any plans to construct a statue in Harry Hester's honor near the large rock on Granite Street, but Hester is pretty popular these days in that community.
With Friday's monumental 18-10 win against Pleasant Ridge, McLouth claimed its first Delaware Valley League title since 1994 and secured its first district title since 1996.
"Somebody said something about a key to the city; I just want a lower water bill," Hester said with a chuckle.
Hester is popular these days because he's nearly orchestrated a 180-degree turn for the football program.
In 2003, Hester's first year at McLouth, the Bulldogs went 0-9, the team's second consecutive winless campaign. Last year, MHS went 4-5.
And if they win Thursday against Maur Hill, the Bulldogs will have a perfect 9-0 regular season this year.
McLouth kept its undefeated campaign intact with a victory Friday against another undefeated team in Easton. Pleasant Ridge also entered last Friday's game at 7-0.
The Bulldogs scored first with Kevin Stewart's one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Stewart electrified the McLouth fans for a second touchdown in the opening minute of the second half.
Stewart hustled 95 yards on a kickoff return that put the Bulldogs up, 12-0.
"After Stewart returned that second-half kickoff, that was all the confidence in the world," Hester said.
With 7:33 left in the third quarter MHS pushed its lead to 18-0 with Jimmy Steffey's 9-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Gill.
Hester said he was excited that his team scored three touchdowns against Pleasant Ridge.
"I thought whoever scored twice would win," Hester said. "I didn't think we'd score three on them."
The Bulldogs were thankful they had.
Pleasant Ridge scored its first points with 11:12 left in the fourth on Jacob Hendee's 13-yard field goal. The Rams scored again on Cullen Lewman's 5-yard reception from Josh Barnes. Hendee's extra point cut the score to 18-10.
In the final moments of the game, Pleasant Ridge again was deep in McLouth territory. The Rams, on a 10-yard completion, were at the McLouth 5.
But Tyler Wise's tackle forced a Pleasant Ridge fumble.
The Bulldogs ran out the clock and escaped Easton with the win.
"They played tremendously well for four quarters," Hester said about his team. "And they never got rattled.
"You could tell by the look in their eyes that they wouldn't be denied."
Fans crammed into bleachers at the Pleasant Ridge stadium, while others stood nearby to watch the DVL showdown.
"It was one of the biggest crowds I've seen in a long long time," Hester said.
Pleasant Ridge principal Andy Metsker said Tuesday he thought about 1,500 people attended the game.
"We've hosted playoff games the last two years," Metsker said. "There weren't as many people for those playoff games as there were for Friday's game."
Pleasant Ridge had 19 first downs to McLouth's 10 and had more total offense than McLouth (339-231), but the Bulldogs didn't cave in.
"We would bend, but wouldn't break," Hester said. "The secondary did a great job of keeping stuff in front of them."
The McLouth offense didn't turn the ball over. Pleasant Ridge, though, had two turnovers.
Hester said the win against Pleasant Ridge was special, not only for McLouth fans, but for this year's seniors.
"Losing as freshmen to them 72-0 and coming back to beat them in the league championship is a special feeling."
On Thursday, McLouth will play for a perfect regular season. Standing in the Bulldogs' way is Maur Hill. The Junior Ravens are 2-6 on the season, but Hester said Maur Hill should be fired up in its last game of the season.
"We'll see a good effort from them," Hester said. "We need to be ready to play off this emotional high and hopefully have a lot more big games ahead of us."
Kickoff for Thursday's game is 7 p.m. in McLouth.
MHS 18, Pleasant Ridge 10
Score by quarters
McLouth 0 6 12 0 -- 18
Pleasant Ridge 0 0 0 10 -- 10
How they scored
M --evin Stewart 1 run (kick failed)
M -- Stewart 95 kickoff return (pass failed)
M -- Joel Gill 9 pass from Jimmy Steffey (run failed)
PR -- Jacob Hendee 13 FG
PR -- Cullen Lewman 5 pass from Josh Barnes (Hendee kick)