While the score may not reflect success, Tolton Catholic (1-5) showed vast improvement on the road at Cuba (4-4).
Tolton started off hot after senior running back Noah Manie ran 60 yards and scored on the very first play of the game. However, the game went south from there. Later in the first quarter, Cuba linebacker Connor Gipson scored on a pick-six. Tolton coach Michael Egnew said the pass play would’ve resulted in a wide-open touchdown for the Trailblazers, but the ball was deflected off a player’s elbow.
The Wildcats accumulated three more touchdowns in the first half, leaving Tolton with a 24-6 deficit to overcome. Cuba’s size and physicality made it difficult for Tolton to defend the run. Similarly, Egnew said Cuba’s defensive line plugged the inside gap, halting Tolton’s run attack and preventing Manie from having any more big plays.
“I thought we played really well against a team that’s a class bigger than us,” Egnew said. “The game felt closer than it looked.”
In the third quarter, senior quarterback Gabe Pfenenger completed a touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Luke Drummond. The Trailblazers successfully executed the 2-point conversion, but this was Tolton’s last score. Egnew said his team should have scored on two more instances but failed to convert. The Wildcats won 43-14, and senior wide receiver Alan O’Neal ran 70 yards to score the Wildcats’ final touchdown.
Egnew said his offense moved the ball well, and he was pleased with Friday’s performance. The Trailblazers had only one turnover, which contrasts previous games this season where they had three or four just in the first half.
“I liked our scheme and how we operated on offense and defense,” Egnew said. “We need to clean up our run game, making sure we’re taking the right first step. We need to correct little mistakes.”
Currently, the Trailblazers are scheduled to close out their regular season against Priory at 7 p.m. Friday in Columbia. However, Egnew said Tolton will likely play a different opponent or simply not compete until districts because of COVID-19 concerns and other scheduling conflicts.