Spartans cap undefeated season with championship
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Ryan Rice was finishing an all-star performance, with his undefeated SHAPE High School team five minutes from claiming the Division II 2003 European Football Championship over Bitburg High School in a blowout.
But as the Spartans (8-0) completed a 33-7 rout of Bitburg on Saturday at Minnick Field, a game against Bitburg three seasons ago was on the senior quarterback’s mind.
Three years ago, it didn’t go so well for SHAPE in a 44-0 loss.
“We had eight guys hurt that night. I played two series as a freshman,” Rice said. “It’s a little payback tonight.”
It was an evening of nearly total frustration for a talented, if luckless, Bitburg Barons team, which lost to SHAPE earlier this year 42-12. The Barons came into the game with a 6-1 record.
Junior running back Pascal Grundmann and senior Tom Mueller powered for yardage at times in the third quarter, shaking off tacklers while showing speed off misdirection plays.
But it was too late.
Four botched snaps on punt attempts seemed to deflate Bitburg as SHAPE converted those and other mistakes into ideal field position.
SHAPE was far from flawless, with two touchdowns called back on penalties. But Rice, who showed Joe Montana-like ability to run one way while throwing the other, and running back Brandon Glenn bounced back each time.
Glenn rolled outside on sweeps for a pair of touchdowns, once on a 5-yard run right to make it 20-0, then a 1-yard dash left to make it 27-0 with 3:39 left in the half.
The latter touchdown came seconds after a snap from center triple-hopped down the field past Bitburg punter Omar Powell to give SHAPE the ball on the Baron’s 11-yard line.
Bitburg’s offense sputtered in its first two series.
Junior quarterback Trey Wilson had little luck running the ball, with SHAPE defensive players Kodiak Reed and Justin Rayman just too quick and wily for Bitburg.
SHAPE forced Bitburg to make a bad punt early in the first quarter, then Demetri Jones laid crushing licks on Wilson.
At that point, SHAPE unleashed its offense.
SHAPE senior defensive back Marcel Reeves recovered a Grundmann fumble. On the next play, Glenn ran the ball 55 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0 with 1:22 left in the first quarter.
Bitburg’s defense began to fight back in the third quarter. Defensive back Thomas Woodbury and linebacker Fritz Mead were able to harass Rice, denying him favorite targets Glenn and senior back Bryan Farthing and halting SHAPE’s offense.
When Bitburg got the ball, Grundmann and Mueller matched long runs until Grundmann took the ball to SHAPE’s 1-yard line. He scored up the middle on the next play, making it 27–7 with 2:25 left to go in the third quarter.
Though Woodbury continued to hound Rice, nailing him in the backfield to end the third quarter, Rice came right back. Pitching out to Glenn on fourth and 2, Glenn ran the ball 55 yards to Bitburg’s 7-yard line.
Rice ran the ball in — one of his two touchdowns — and SHAPE went up 33–7 with 9:42 left in the fourth.
Grundmann countered with several solid runs for Bitburg, until Reeves picked off Wilson with 7:17 left in the game.
Before the game, SHAPE coach Kregg Kappenman said his team was serious about winning, so serious that none of his players had missed pre-championship practices even though the Mons, Belgium-based school was on vacation last week.
Kappenman said the Super Six format was a great chance for coaches and teams to visit, but that his team wouldn’t be distracted.
“We’ll have fun afterward,” Kappenman said.