The Frontenac Raiders played what Coach John Palumbo called “Raider football” Friday night, defeating the Uniontown Eagles 26-6.

The Frontenac Raiders played what Coach John Palumbo called “Raider football” Friday night, defeating the Uniontown Eagles 26-6.
Friday night’s version of Raider football involved Frontenac rushing for 268 yards on offense and holding Uniontown to 105 total yards. But perhaps most importantly, it involved the Raiders holding onto the ball for nine minutes while building a lead in the first quarter, then another nine minutes out of the fourth quarter when protecting said lead. Each quarter is 12 minutes.
“I really thought that our line controlled the game early, and then they took over late when it looked like Uniontown was going to make a push,” Palumbo said. “That’s Raider football, and that’s the best the line has played so far this year. They keep getting better.”
It didn’t take the Raiders long to establish themselves. In a vintage Frontenac drive, the Raiders took the opening kickoff and marched 55 yards on 10 plays, ending with a John Oppliger touchdown dive from three yards out. After holding the Eagles to a quick three-and-out, the Raiders went to the air. Joe Saia found Oppliger open deep for a 51-yard pass before the fullback was dragged down at the 13. Three plays later, Saia followed his line and burrowed his way into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown.
Uniontown returned the ensuing kickoff 46 yards into Raider territory, but Eagles fullback David Shank fumbled the ball on the next play from scrimmage into a crowd of Raiders. Frontenac then methodically moved the ball down the field, adding their third touchdown when Saia pinched a bullet between two defenders to receiver Josh Garcia for a 21-yard score.
But Uniontown came out ready in the second half. On the first play of the third quarter, Travis Aikins broke a 62-yard run to put the Eagles into scoring position. The Raiders would hold tight, forcing the Eagles into a fourth and goal from the 11-yard line. The Eagles went for it, and it paid off, with Ben Dixon scooting into the end zone on an end around.
“I did like the way they came out to play in the second half,” said Uniontown Coach Jim Mason. “But that’s the way they should have played all game.”
The comeback never materialized. After trading possessions, the Frontenac line took over, battering the Eagles for four and five yards per play and sticking it into the end zone on a five-yard Zac Palumbo run.
Neither team would score from that point on – the Eagles turned the ball over again and Frontenac played keep-away for the rest of the game.
“They came ready to play, and we didn’t,” Mason said. “That’s not taking anything away from the Frontenac coaches. They had their team prepared and ready to play.
“I told our kids that we have two choices from here,” Mason said. “We can be a pretty good team, or a pretty bad team. The choice is up to them.”
Mason said he was impressed with Raider quarterback Joe Saia, who threw for 88 yards, while running for another 65, often dragging tacklers for extra yards and bulling ahead in short yardage situations.
“He was a man tonight,” Mason said. “He might be listed as a sophomore, but he was a man.”
Frontenac also came to play defensively – the Raiders forced six fumbles, and recovered three, while intercepting another pass. The Raiders allowed zero passing yards and just two first downs for the game.
“I felt like, when they scored, they were in control a little bit,” Palumbo said. “But our kids faced some adversity, and you have to give them credit, they really responded well. I’m proud of our kids. They played hard, and they played smart.”
The Raiders did wind up a little banged up – Oppliger was removed from the game with what Palumbo described as a “light concussion,” and Tanner Mendicki sat out the fourth quarter with a pulled or strained leg muscle.
“I don’t think it’s anything too serious,” Palumbo said. “We’ll see where we’re at next week.”
Both teams moved to 2-2 after the game. Frontenac will next play Galena, while Uniontown must travel to Oswego.