CRYSTAL LAKE - The view from the sidelines had been just as uncomfortable as the niggling pain in Steven Ladd’s right shoulder.
The Prairie Ridge senior running back watched restlessly for the past five weeks, nearly willing the shoulder he’d injured during the first week against Notre Dame back to health. On Friday against Dundee-Crown, Ladd finally strapped pads over his bandages and revitalized a Wolves team clinging to playoff hopes.
Prairie Ridge shuttered the upstart Chargers, 42-0, in Fox Valley Conference Valley Division play to keep open the chance of a postseason appearance, which still is contingent upon winning the final two games of the season.
Prairie Ridge (3-4 overall, 2-3 FVC Valley Division) rolled up 380 yards on the ground with 78 of them coming from Ladd, who rumbled into the end zone on a 34-yard run in the first quarter to all but shatter the Chargers’ confidence about 10 minutes after the opening kickoff.
“I was really pumped and ready to go,” Ladd said. “It was just awesome to play again. Watching us lose the last few weeks has been terrible. I wanted to come back and help.”
Ladd’s first carry for 18 yards came on the Wolves’ second possession of the game. He capped his second carry in the end zone with the 34 yarder to put Prairie Ridge up 14-0.
Ladd also had a hand in the Wolves’ third scoring play, connecting with running back Danny Meikel on a 24-yard halfback option with less than 5 minutes left in the second quarter. The play gave the Wolves a 28-0 lead at halftime.
Dundee-Crown (5-2, 2-2) was favored to win and is gunning for its own playoff slot, but the Chargers had trouble reacting to the Wolves’ option offense. Having Ladd back further complicated matters.
“I told them that now we’re in a three-game season, and they responded,” Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp said. “Getting Ladd back helps a lot, too. He makes a big difference. They all ran hard tonight. That’s what we needed.”
Wolves quarterback Brett Covalt also had a banner game. Covalt rushed in touchdowns of 1 and 4 yards in the first half, then scored on a 32-yard run with 9:08 left in the third quarter to put Prairie Ridge ahead 35-0. Covalt finished with 91 yards on 13 carries, and was 1-for-5 passing for 33 yards.
Zack Greenberg, who led all Prairie Ridge backs with 120 yards on 14 carries, rounded out the Wolves’ scoring with a 20-yard touchdown late with 7:26 left in the fourth.
The Wolves scored on all but two possessions and didn’t punt until 3 minutes into the third quarter. D-C fumbled the punt return, though, and Prairie Ridge recovered.
Covalt’s 32-yard touchdown run punctuated the Chargers’ mistake.
“They beat us up tonight,” D-C coach Vito Andriola said. “I think we’re feeling the pressure of making the playoffs, winning and playing in November. When you have that fragile psyche and things don’t go your way, it can be tough.”