WEST LAFAYETTE – The offseason was filled with question marks for the Ridgewood football team.
But those questions found quick answers in the form of a dynamic offense that helped the Generals return to the postseason for the first time since 2011.
Ridgewood (9-1) — the No. 5 seed in Region 21 — will travel to No. 4 seed Centerburg (8-2) for its first playoff game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Generals are averaging just under 34 points per game behind an improved offensive line and two of the best skill players the town has seen in quite some time in senior quarterback Caleb Tingle and senior running back Zach Donley.
Tingle, a Cambridge transfer, finished 53-of-85 for 736 yards and eight touchdowns to just four interceptions through the air. He also added 158 carries for 1,276 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Coach John Slusser had nothing but praise for his one-year wonder and signal-caller.
“When we got Caleb, I think he was more of a scrambler and a passer because he was used to winging the ball downfield to athletes who could run and catch,” Slusser said. “But in our offense, he’s had to change over to more of a running quarterback and he has been great at that.”
Tingle also made an impression on members of the offensive line, like senior Blake Feldner.
“Our quarterback spot was a big question mark coming into this season and he was able to fill that role pretty easily for us,” Feldner said. “I don’t know if we could have made it this far without him being here.”
Donley has also been a difference maker, with 150 carries for 1,105 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also has six catches for 107 yards and three touchdowns.
Slusser believes the backfield duo has fed off each other for much of the season and feels Donley has been a great feature back in the offense.
“Zach is a bruising runner, but is also a speed guy,” Slusser said. “He’s good enough to run through two guys and still go 80 yards for a touchdown, which he has done a few times this season.”
Both players understood a lot of their success, individually and as a team, has to do with the development of the offensive line.
Donley noted they have been the real MVPs of the team.
“Obviously we can’t do anything without the offensive line and they have done a lot for us so far,” he said. “All we have to do is do what we do because the line does such a great job creating holes.”
Tingle also feels the line should be getting a lot of the credit.
“They do a great job creating holes and really caving down on guys,” he said. “When you put us all together, it’s a great mix.”
Feldner remarked that without players like Tingle and Donley, the line wouldn’t be as successful either.
“We could open holes, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t have the guys to run through them,” he said. “We have the best guys around to help us succeed.”