Ravenstahl picks up slack in North Catholic's 13-0 victory over Mars
Adam Ravenstahl wasn't the back that was supposed to lead North Catholic to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals.
But with star running back Marty Nasiadka on the sideline with turf toe, Ravenstahl filled the void. The junior rushed for 131 yards on 18 carries in North Catholic's 13-0 victory Friday over Mars in a WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal game at Burrell High School.
The Trojans will play Beaver Falls next weekend in the semifinals. The winner advances to Heinz Field on Nov. 24 to play for the Class AA championship. Nasiadka is expected to be back for that game after injuring his toe late in the victory over Waynesburg last week.
Nasiadka tried the foot midway through the week but couldn't make it work well enough to play. That brought Ravenstahl, a fullback all of the season, into the mix.
The starting fullback had gained 271 yards last night but was moved to the tailback slot while sophomore Hayden Glaser moved into the fullback position.
In fact, Ravenstahl hadn't played tailback on a fulltime basis since grade school.
"The running backs switch positions at practice all the time, so I was ready,'' Ravenstahl said. "I wasn't nervous. I ran a lot of reps in practice. But I think I am going to stick with fullback, I like it better.''
It was Ravenstahl's 65-yard run on the first series of the second half that helped break open a tight game. He took the ball to the Mars 5-yard line on the second play of the half and scored on a 4-yard toss two plays later.
"The line blocked, the hole opened up and that was it,'' Ravenstahl said of his 65-yard run. "(As a fullback), I am not used to seeing that much open space.''
Despite gaining just 28 yards total offense, North Catholic led 6-0 at halftime thanks to Damien Duggan's 68-yard punt return in the second quarter.
Duggan caught the punt on the right sideline, picked his way through three blocks and cut back to the post for the touchdown.
"We told the kids there will be times when the offense and defense will struggle and special teams will have to step up and make a play,'' North Catholic coach Denny Fedigan said.
Mars also had to play the majority of the game without its best offensive player.
Tailback Brad Mueller is believed to have separated his shoulder early in the second quarter. The senior had rushed for 1,202 yards and 12 touchdowns before exiting with 9:42 remaining in the half. He did not return.
"He probably could have played if we would be playing next week,'' Mars coach Scott Heinauer said. "We just didn't want to take a chance and get him hurt. It's not worth it. But I thought the rest of the team stepped up and played hard.''
Even without Mueller, Mars had its chances. Despite 93 yards rushing from junior Chris Gallagher, the Planets couldn't convert on four trips inside the North Catholic 30.
Twice in the first half, the Planets came away empty when a bad exchange forced a fumble and a Michael Lingenfelser sacked Mars quarterback Zach Rosswig at the Trojan 38.
Mars' best scoring attempt came in the fourth quarter when it drove to the North Catholic 12 but was stopped on fourth down. The Planets got to the Trojans 25 in the closing minutes but were sacked on three successive plays to end the threat.
"It was a neutral scenario as far as the running backs,'' Heinauer said. "They made two big plays and that was enough to win the game.''