MIDDLEBURY — Soaked head-to-toe in Gatorade, Bill Roggeman stood solemnly by himself in the middle of Northridge’s football field.
About 20 yards away, Roggeman’s Memorial Crimson Chargers were reveling in the first victory of a long, often frustrating, season.
Everyone celebrates victory in different ways and Friday night’s 14-12 decision over the Raiders will go down as a classic example.
While young Chargers were patting backs, Roggeman was remembering his hero.
“I was thinking about my dad,’’ Roggeman said, holding back tears. “Two of my brothers were here, of course my wife is always here. These coaches did a great job.”
Roggeman lost his father, also named Bill, in 2008. In a season where a team was denied for eight straight weeks — and for a half against Northridge — a spirit kept poking at the EMHS coach.
Not only had Roggeman not won this fall, it had been since his 1993 season at Peru — 19 seasons in all — since the football lifer won as a head coach.
“My dad, had he been here, he’d be so happy,” Roggeman said. “These kids wouldn’t quit. That’s all he ever taught us. Every day I hear his voice in my head. I think he’d be happy.’’
In a battle of two winless teams, it became an no-holds barred chess match.
Northridge emptied the play book — halfback passes, fake punt and an onside kick after a touchdown.
Memorial kept working to get Dimetri Chatman loose in space, but couldn’t until early in the third quarter when quarterback Blake Kramer found his speedy wideout for a 56-yard catch-and-run. Kane Rickey later added what would be the game-winning score with a 12-yard TD dash on the second snap of the fourth period.
The rest of the game, the Chargers dodged bullet after bullet. Like many Raider losses in recent years, they were their own worse enemy.
After a sparkling first half and a 12-0 lead, Northridge muffed a punt, fumbled on Memorial’s last kickoff and threw two interceptions.
As Northridge self-destructed, Memorial found some self-esteem and finally enjoyed a bus ride home.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I gotta give a shoutout to Northridge because they played a heckuva game, but this feels great,’’ said Kramer. “I knew our defense could hold them.”
Tommy Kendall, who’s played as much football as any Charger senior on the roster, did something he hasn’t done in some time — breathe easily and smile.
“It’s a different feeling ... it’s not like any other,’’ Kendall said. “This is one of the first games that it actually felt like a real Friday night. Compared to all of the years, this is actually a Friday night. This is what it’s supposed to feel like.”
Contact Bill Beck at email@example.com
memorial 14, northridge 12
Scoring by Quarters
Memorial 0 0 7 7 — 14
Northridge 6 6 0 0 — 12
School — Scoring Play
N — Craig Kasten 15 run; kick failed, 6:47.
N — Travis Schlabach 79 punt return; run failed.
Mem — Dimetri Chatman 56 pass from Blake Kramer; Tommy Kendall kick, 8:25.
Mem — Kane Rickey 12 run; Kendall kick, 11:50.
Officials: Dennis Maude, Dave Emenhiser, Chris Kierski, Kyle Eichenouer, Jim Dunn.
Team Statistics Mem Nr
Net yards rushing 33 87
Net yards passing 236 93
Total Yards 269 180
First Downs 15 10
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties 7-68 8-79
Memorial: Rushing — Kane Rickey 9-30. Passing — Blake Kramer 23-40-236 (0 int.). Receiving — Dimetri Chatman 10-139, Nathan Troutman 4-42, Nick Youngs 4-31.
Northridge: Rushing — Craig Kasten 10-61, Travis Schlabach 9-32. Passing — Tanner Love 10-21-93 (2 int.). Receiving — Jailyn Rolle 3-34.