The Cougars had a Saturday date with the Merrillville Andrean Fighting 59ers. As the winner of two consecutive State Championships, Grand Rapids Catholic Central welcomed one of Indiana’s finest programs for a non-conference challenge. Sandwiched around two Andrean touchdowns were five by GRCC, as they won 34-14.
In the first quarter, Grand Rapids Catholic Central started the scoring with an 84-yard touchdown pass from Joey Silveri to Nolan Ziegler, the Cougars’ dynamic duo striking again to give them a 6-0 lead.
Joey Silveri dialed up another score for the Cougars, using his arm on a 4-yard pass to Nate VanTimmeren. The lead would extend to fifteen points on the ensuing conversion, as Silveri found an open Devin Fridley-Bell.
Ziegler, a 4-star recruit who is poised to play safety at Notre Dame next fall, showed his defensive prowess. He stepped in front of an Andrean pass and raced 27 yards to the end zone. This gave GRCC a commanding 21-0 advantage.
The Fighting 59ers continued to fight, and their late second quarter surge got them right back in this ballgame. Scott Ballentine, a sophomore, directed the Andrean passing attack. On two separate possessions, he found Drayk Bowen for 6-yard touchdowns. Bowen, the 5-star recruit from 247Sports, propelled the Fighting 59ers within a point as the game went to halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, the Cougars defense made adjustments and kept Andrean’s passing attack in check. As a result, the 59ers were held scoreless for the entirety of the second half. The GRCC offense was able to provide some insurance to seal this victory.
Joey Silveri dialed up two more touchdown drives, using his arm to pad the lead. He found Ziegler on the score in the third quarter, a 38-yard strike. In the fourth quarter, Devin Fridley-Bell was the intended target, and he hauled in a 21-yard pass the would be the final touchdown of the contest.
Silveri, the Cougars’ quarterback, had a remarkable Saturday afternoon. He completed 20/24 passes, tallying 316 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also led GRCC in rushing with 24 yards on 8 carries. Nolan Ziegler was the leading receiver for GRCC, tallying 158 yards on five catches. Ronin Russell-Dixon added 82 yards on four receptions.
The Cougars’ defense stepped up in the second half, limiting their scoring opportunities. Throughout the entire game, Andrean rushed for just sixteen yards. Scott Ballentine had a solid game, as the sophomore passed for 239 yards, completing 25/42 passes.
Next week, Grand Rapids Catholic Central (2-0) will begin OK Gold play on the road, as the Cougars travel to Forest Hills Eastern. Merrillville Andrean (1-2) will make their home debut next Friday, as they welcome in East Chicago Central.