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Simmons Says - One to grow on
Bryson Elrod goes deep to connect on a 29-yard touchdown pass in the waning seconds of Thursday's 56-7 loss to Oakland.
Raven Lewandowski.jpg
Raven Lewandowski ended his career on a high note Thursday. The senior grabbed a touchdown with 18 seconds left against Oakland. - photo by Jeffery Simmons

It will be the enduring moment all offseason for the Pioneers.

The rain coming down harder than ever, and all hopes of the historic upset long dashed, Bryson Elrod dropped back looking deep. The sophomore quarterback found Raven Lewandowski streaking open in the Oakland secondary and dropped a perfect pass over the top.

The 29-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds left was insignificant to the final score – a 56-7 loss to the Patriots. It may be immeasurable going forward though, when the young Pioneers will be fueled by visions of scoring more against the state’s best.

“It was a beautiful play – one of the best of the season,” said coach Tom Moore. “Bryson stepped into the throw and we had good protection. It was nice to see Raven, a senior, get the score.”

Lewandowski, along with eight other seniors, won’t be back next year. A huge sophomore group, one Moore has spoken glowingly about all season, will be. And there’s hope more will come and join them.

“I’m proud of the boys. They didn’t have that much to play for except for pride,” said Moore following Thursday’s loss. “They played for each other, for the seniors and for experience. We’re taking a good spirit into the offseason.

“I hope they keep it going forward and we want to see more come out to help.”

Elrod’s play in the last three games may answer some questions at the quarterback position. Elrod played behind fellow sophomore Clay Thompson all year, but an injury allowed him to step into the job. Elrod had two touchdowns in the last three weeks, giving Moore another option entering the offseason.

Thompson’s versatility – he also starts in the secondary and played receiver as a freshman – also should play into any positional decision making.

One thing the whole team can hope for is getting 10 games from Jay Rozier. The junior back was away from the program for half this season, but returned for the stretch run and displayed the kind of hard-nosed running that had college coaches buzzing last fall.

Even Oakland’s players recognized Rozier’s ability. After a particularly punishing first-down run, where Rozier spun out of two tackles and bulldozed forward for more yards, an Oakland player got off the pile with newfound respect.

“Dang. That’s a really good running back.”

It wasn’t faint praise. Rozier had 163 yards in the final two games while facing the state-ranked Patriots and a stout Riverdale front seven.

The pieces are in place. And maybe more are on the way.

On a night where one season ended with a blowout in a downpour, maybe the seeds of success were planted for the future.