Marshall Ranch defeats Oakwood Raiders 33-6
The Marshall Ranch Elementary football team won the Turquoise Conference championship. Team members are: Josh Castillo, Trevor Cameron, Joe Dong, Jon Gawel, Trevor Hort, Andrew Jarman, Nick Kirkman, Mike LeDesma, RJ Lyrenmann, Frankie Mendoza, Brandon Mitchell, Mikey Mohley, Matt Paparella, Darrell Perez, Joe Salminen, Matt Schoen, Austin Sills-Trausch, Tony Song, Alex Armbrust, Matt Boulware, Leon Harrigan, Daniel Ronn, Jordan Stewart, Bryce Ulm, Tim Lee, Scott Austin, Trevor Doak, Tony George, Michael Kistler, Matt Komada, Jacob Macalpine, and Nathan Colins. Coaches are Scott Shaver, and Gordon Willford. Team assistants are Mr. Paparella and ball boy is Scotty Shaver.

The battle of the Turquoise Conference brought two equally tough teams to the Peoria Unified School District Championships. Marshall Ranch brought confidence to the field and had a long-standing, winning tradition to uphold.

“Marshall Ranch has not lost a home game in 15 years. We have won 59 straight games,” head coach Scott Shaver said.

While the Oakwood Raiders are 7-2 on the season, and with coaching by Ben Cohen and Jeff Gallimore, the Raiders headed into the game ready to play.

In the first quarter for Marshall Ranch, Nick Kirkman scored a five-yard rushing touchdown to take the early 7-0 lead. On the next possession, Kirkman scored again on a 34-yard reception from quarterback Matt Paparella.

In the second quarter, Brandon Mitchell made a great grab on a four-yard reception into the end zone. Oakwood responded on a 61-yard carry into the end zone by Hayden Sovacki to narrow the lead 21-6. There were multiple passes completed and some great rushing yards accumulated, but the score remained 21-6 at the half.

On first and 10 on the 20-yard line, Marshall Ranch ran a hook and ladder play from Paparella, who handed off to Mitchell, who pitched it out to Jon Gawel for a touchdown.

In the fourth quarter, Paparella completed a 79-yard touchdown pass to Kirkman to take the 33-6 lead.

Oakwood had some great plays by quarterback Brody Riggs and Sovacki.

Paparella said Marshall Ranch was able to win the championship because the players put in the hard work.

“We had a great game and I could not have thrown for touchdowns without my team,” Paparella said.

Gawel said it made the championship special to share it with his entire team.

“They are what make this sport so much fun,” he said.

Every day they work harder at practice and perfecting plays and Mitchell said winning the championship makes you feel bigger than you really are.

Kirkman credits his coaches and said they are the best, and without them, they would have never made it as far as they did.

Paparella finished the game 10 for 12 on pass completions for 207 yards and five touchdown passes. He rushed 12 times for 75 yards. Mitchell rushed three times for 22 yards. Kirkman caught four receptions for 134 yards, followed by RJ Lyrenmann, who earned 35 yards rushing. The team carried the ball 22 times for 113 yards. Kirkman collected three touchdowns while Mitchell and Gowel added one each. Paparella ended the season 7 for 124 passing for 1,315 yards. He threw for 29 touchdowns and broke the Marshall Ranch record by seven.

Reach the reporter at sports@star-times.com or (623) 847-4610.