If not for the sweltering heat radiating off the Kuhlman Field turf Friday night, Edina running back Colin Ritter might not have broken a sweat in the Hornets’ season opener.
But give credit where credit is due.
The 6-foot junior used all of his 190 pounds to burst through the line for four 1-yard touchdown runs against Holy Angels in a 28-14 Zero Week victory against the Stars. He finished with six carries for just 10 yards rushing.
“I feel kind of bad taking all the touchdowns away,” Ritter said. “But it feels good. As long as I’m on the field I’m good. Everybody had an important part in this game, I just got to finish.”
Ritter indeed relied on his teammates to do most of the heavy lifting.
On the ground, senior running back Kevin Placide rushed 27 times for 99 yards.
“Hard work pays off; maybe next time it’s me scoring the touchdowns,” he said. “But you have to put in a whole team effort to get the good outcome.”
Through the air, senior quarterback Mark Handberg — who didn’t join the team until the second week of two-a-days while playing in the American Legion World Series — shook off some jittery moments under center to twice hook up with receivers for plays of more than 50 yards.
“If we keep doing this,” he said, “we’re going to win a lot of football games.”
The first-ever meeting between the two schools did not reflect a matchup of a Class 6A team against a Class 4A team.
Holy Angels, a run-first, section runner-up team last fall, stunned the Hornets early in the second quarter to tie the score 7-7. Quarterback Sam Keis scrambled out of trouble from deep in his own territory and eventually scampered 83 yards to the end zone.
Keis later set up the Stars’ second touchdown with a long pass to the 1 to cut Edina’s lead to 21-14 with 1:52 left in the third quarter, and Holy Angels forced a goal line fumble on the Hornets’ next possession. But Ritter’s fourth TD a short time later sealed the game.
Coach Reed Boltmann, who set up the early season game with good friend and former semipro teammate Ray Betton of Holy Angels, acknowledged the game wasn’t always pretty. In addition to the red zone fumble, the Hornets were called for two personal-foul penalties.
“It’s the kind of stuff you worry about in Week 1 and we will address it,” he said. “But we worked our plan using this robust set, and we did our job. Especially [Ritter]. He had the easy work.”