Photo by Diane Cox
Roxana senior Seth Chester avoids a tackle from Carterville’s Ashton DeRousse in the fourth quarter of a 49-22 loss on Nov. 8 at Charlie Raich Field.
The Roxana Shells saw their season come to an end with a 49-22 loss to Carterville at Charlie Raich Field in the Class 4A playoffs last Saturday, but not before re-establishing themselves as a force on the local football scene.
Roxana concluded its campaign at 8-3, its first winning season since 2003. After finishing third in the South Central Conference, the Shells went 1-1 in the playoffs, joining Carlinville as the only other SCC team to win a playoff game out of the five that qualified.
There were so many highlights in 2014 for Roxana, like not losing at home until the playoffs. There was also Logan Reardon’s game-winning field goal late in Week 2 against Pana, along with a playoff victory and numerous other highlights. Sixth-year head coach Pat Keith was holding his head up high, even after the loss to the Lions to boot the Shells from the playoffs.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Keith said following the loss. “(We) would we have liked to play again next week, no doubt about it, but we’re not going to. We just have to enjoy the season we had and move on.”
There was no secret what Roxana was going to attack its opponents with in 2014. The Shells had a potent rushing attack. Both Reardon and junior Blake Vandiver eclipsed 1,000 yards in 2014, while senior Seth Chester did his fair share in the backfield, too.
Reardon finished with a single-season record of 1,761 yards rushing on 223 attempts. He also had 25 rushing touchdowns. Vandiver compiled 1,161 yards on 161 carries and 16 TDs. Chester hauled the rock 62 times for 462 yards and eight scores.
That trio highlighted the 47-21 win over Freeburg in Week 1 of the postseason with the biggest playoff-rushing game in school history, racking up a whopping 436 yards on 53 carries, good for 8.3 yards per carry.
Reardon also now owns the points benchmark in a season for Roxana with 182. The gritty senior fullback ran it 23 times for 158 yards and a pair of scores in the loss to Carterville to end his prep career.
“He’s been that way all year for us,” Keith said. “He ran the ball hard for us and had some success, but that goes with all of our guys, the line, the main backs, everybody. The success is because of all of those guys.”
Junior quarterback Chance Foss was a big part of the success, too. Foss completed the year 67 of 125 for 965 yards and 13 TDs to six interceptions. He also rushed for a couple of scores.
Junior Jared Foiles led the receiving corps with 14 grabs to go with 181 yards. His only TD came on the ground, though. He did nail down a 2-point conversion run against Carterville.
Senior Ale Revelle (13 catches, 266 yards, 4 TDs), junior Trace Gentry (13 catches, 215 yards, 3 TDs), Vandiver (11 catches, 141 yards, 2 TDs), Chester (11 catches, 117 yards, 2 TDs) and Reardon (3 catches, 45 yards, 2 TDs) rounded out the major contributing receivers for the Shells.
The offensive line consisting of seniors Brennan Harris, Josh Rudd and Luke Curtis and juniors Billy Mathis and Ethan Kurth were consistently good throughout the season.
Defensively, Curtis, Chester, Reardon, Revelle, Mathis and freshman Jordan Hawkins led the way.
Keith was happy to see the Shells gain some experience in 2014 and enjoy some success. He hopes that experience and success will spark hunger in a program that returns quite a bit next season.
“That was the first time, obviously, we had a winning season since 2003 and it’s passing the bar for everybody else,” Keith said. “Hopefully next year we can repeat and come back in the playoffs.”
Keith knows Roxana will lose a special group of seniors, though. Even with the return of plenty of talent, it will leave some big shoes to fill.
Revelle, Harris, Rudd, Reardon, Curtis and Chester are joined by Matt Meyers, Katlin Michelon and Shawn Porter leaving nine big holes for Keith to fill in 2015.
“We lose some good seniors,” Keith said. “They are nine good seniors, but we’ve got some guys that I think are going to come back ready and have learned some good things from these guys like leadership skills and how to do things right. We believed in each other and I had a bunch of guys that were working together as a team. Not one guy here was worried about themselves.”
Keith added, “It was good for us, the kids and the program and good for the community to kind of relive some of that old-time success. Hopefully now we’re starting a new chapter and starting some more success in the future for us.”
Follow @broseberry51 on Twitter