It may be a little less of a rivalry game looking at the scoreboard, but on the field it was obvious Belle Vernon and Ringgold still don’t like each other.
In the end, though, it was the Leopards coming out on top with a 55-0 win at Joe Montana Stadium.
The teams combined for 18 penalties, including seven personal fouls, for a combined 185 yards.
“This week we still wanted to keep the rivalry aspect,” BV coach Matt Humbert said. “We knew we weren’t going to be playing a million kids that’ll be playing next week, but we didn’t want that to deter the fact it’s still Belle Vernon-Ringgold.”
BV’s defense, regardless of personnel, dominated from the opening possession.
The Leopards allowed 6 total yards of offense and finished with two interceptions and a fumble recovery on a punt.
“We just clicked. Our goal was to get out of here injury-free, and we did,” Humbert said. “Only allowing (6) yards, that’s crazy. We had some young guys in there for some of our varsity kids, so that’s good for our line.”
BV (8-1, 6-1 Class 4A Big 8 Conference) got on the board with five minutes left in the first quarter thanks to Andrew Pacak’s 8-yard touchdown run.
The Rams (0-10, 0-7) forced the Leopards into a third-and-29 on their next possession, but Anthony Bertram lined up in the wildcat and rumbled 43 yards for a touchdown.
Following a surprise onside kick, the Leopards made it 20-0 on a Larry Callaway 4-yard run at the end of the first. The rout was on from there as Humbert began emptying his bench.
BV made it 40-0 at the half with an 18-yard touchdown run by Mason Pascoe, a 1-yard run by Gage Rogge and a Ryan Hamer 12-yard scoring run.
With a running clock to start the second half, the Leopards received the kickoff and chewed up the entire third quarter with an 13-play, 80-yard drive.
Hamer, who led the Leopards with 94 yards on 15 carries, capped it of with a 14-yard touchdown.
BV’s last score came with less than two minutes left as Tyler Kovatch returned a punt 42 yards for a score.
With a winless first season as Rams coach, Mike Zmijanac is proud of his young players for sticking out the year and gaining valuable experience.
“I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Zmijanac said. “You can’t go backwards. This one’s over, there’s no carrying on about it. It is what it is. Like everything else, you move on with life.”
The Rams started a number of freshmen and sophomores. Zmijanac looks forward to watching them develop.
“The goal is always to get better,” the long-time coach said. “Hopefully we get in the weight room and get bigger, stronger, faster. But you can’t wish it. You have to come in and do it.”
For the Leopards, who racked up just less than 400 yards of offense, preparation for the playoffs begins Monday.
“We’ll clean up the penalties. It’s nice with Monday being a fundamental day because you aren’t going to know who you’re going to play,” Humbert said. “We wanted to emphasize finishing the season very strong and catapult yourself into the playoffs.
“The nice thing is we were able to rest some guys. We didn’t want to put (Nolan) Labuda in a situation where he had to go out and get in harm’s way. It was a great all-around effort in a game where we wanted to embrace the weather. We actually loved it because it’s a situation we may face in the playoffs.”
Jeremy Sellew is a Mon Valley Independent staff writer.