Blue Ridge Pounds Maverick Title Hopes

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The Rim Country Middle School teams' aspirations to earn White Mountain League championships have taken a thumping from Blue Ridge.

In four football and softball games Sept 12, the Mavericks lost three in convincing fashion. The other game, a seventh-grade softball showdown in Payson, ended in a controversial 4-4 tie.

The Mavericks' biggest disappointment occurred on Longhorn football field, where the RCMS seventh-grade team dropped a 46-0 decision to Blue Ridge.

Mav coach Ned Schall said Blue Ridge was "fast and good."

In Lakeside, the eighth-grade football team fell to 2-1 with a 46-28 loss to Blue Ridge.

"We ran into a very big and talented Blue Ridge team," coach Rory Huff said.

Also in Lakeside, the eighth-grade Maverick fast-pitch softball team was thumped 12-6 by Blue Ridge.

The RCMS loss could be attributed to Blue Ridge's fourth inning onslaught in which the team scored seven runs. Until that point, the two teams had been locked in a 4-2 game.

RCMS rebounded with four runs of its own in the top of the fifth, but that wasn't enough to overcome the huge cushion BR had built a half inning earlier.

In the eighth grade football loss, the Maverick defense was no match for Blue Ridge's high octane attack.

"We were unable to stop them on offense," Huff said.

A highlight of the game for RCMS came with 1:53 remaining in the fourth quarter when Kyle Vlahovich hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eric Santana.

In the third quarter, Santana hooked up with wide receiver Miles Huff on a 40-yard TD pass. Huff was named offensive player of the game and Chris Evans the defensive player of the game.

While most RCMS teams were absorbing defeats, coach Gary Ritter's seventh-grade softball players were locked in a duel with Blue Ridge.

The game was tied at 4-4 at the end of regulation play and went into extra innings. It ended in a tie when the umpire had to leave, Ritter said.

The game turned controversial in extra innings after the home plate umpire ruled an RCMS player had not tagged up at third base and scored on a one-out line drive caught by the Blue Ridge second baseman. Ritter argued that the RCMS runner tagged up after the catch and scored what should have been the winning run.

On the play, the Blue Ridge infielder's throw to first base to try and force out the RCMS runner there was overthrown.

In the confusion of the moment, RCMS's base runner thought she should return to third and when she attempted to do so, was tagged out.

Ritter immediately protested the game to officials. The following day, he compiled a written protest.

"The ball was overthrown and went into the (Blue Ridge) dugout; the runner should have scored," he said.

At press time, a decision on the protest had not been made.

The Mavericks will have the opportunity to rebound from the defeats Sept. 19 against Show Low. The seventh-grade teams travel to Show Low for 3:30 p.m. games. The eighth-grade squads host Show Low. Both games begin at 2:30 p.m.

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