Prep football: Alter’s ‘workhorse’ powers Knights past rival Fenwick

Branden McDonald is listed as a 6-foot-1, 224-pound sophomore running back. Those aren’t his most impressive numbers. These are – 572 rushing yards, seven touchdowns and 48 carries.

That’s what McDonald’s tallied in the Alter High School football team’s last two games.

A week after rushing for 344 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries in a 49-14 win over Roger Bacon, McDonald notched an impressive encore. Running for 228 yards and three TDs on 23 carries, McDonald helped the Knights record a 45-20 homecoming win over Fenwick at Centerville Stadium in a key Greater Catholic League Coed North Division tilt Friday.


With the win Alter (4-1, 2-0) takes a step towards its 16th North title in 17 years, while Fenwick slips to 3-2, 1-1. The Knights lead the south suburban parochial series with the Falcons 12-3.

“(McDonald’s) legs are like tree trunks,” Fenwick coach Dan Haverkamp said. “There’s only so much you can do to stop him. You have to rally and get a lot of defenders to him. He’s a talented kid and he’s going to wind up playing college football somewhere, because he certainly fits the mold.”

Said Alter coach Ed Domsitz: “He’s a workhorse.”

Alter worked Fenwick over in the first half. The Knights — behind McDonald and seniors Lamar Landers (running back) and Connor Bazelak (quarterback) — built a 24-0 lead through two quarters.

McDonald scored on runs of 39 and 47 yards, Peter Riazzi added a 1-yard touchdown run and Jack Ruffolo chipped in a field goal.

Alter held a 275-105 edge in total offense at half.

“When you’re playing a rival and you get down that much in the first half, it would be real easy to quit,” Haverkamp said. “We didn’t. We kept fighting.”

Alter opened the second-half scoring with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Bazelak to senior receiver Jack DiMario that forced a running clock.

Fenwick scored on its next three possessions.

Senior running back Jack Fessler scampered 44 yards for a touchdown, while senior quarterback Sully Janeck hit senior receiver Thomas Vogelsang with 70- and 6-yard touchdown passes. Fenwick trailed 38-20 with seven minutes to play.

That’s when Alter fed McDonald some more.

On the ensuing eight-play drive, McDonald carried the ball four times for 25 yards and capped it with his final score.

Game over.

“The last two weeks I’ve just been working hard in practice and focusing on executing,” said McDonald, who schooled at West Carrollton prior to ninth grade. “Of course, it all starts with the line. We just keep building.”

“He has a bright future,” Domsitz said. “He has improved immeasurably since June. Sometimes he likes to break it wide instead of hitting the hole, but that’s a symptom of a young back. He’s a tough kid.”

Alter outgained Fenwick 458-291 in total yards.

“In the history of this rivalry, they’ve had us in a lot of ways,” Haverkamp said. “Second half we couldn’t cut down that lead anymore, but we saw a lot of things we can improve upon and build on. As much as it hurts to lose, you have to find the positives and move that along.”

“I don’t think you ever have it in hand when you’re playing one of your big rivals,” Domsitz said. “And Fenwick’s one of our big rivals. I was nervous throughout.”

Both teams return to action next Friday, the Falcons at McNicholas and the Knights vs. Purcell Marian at Walnut Hills.

Fenwick 0-0-14-6—20

Alter 7-17-7-14—45

A: Branden McDonald 39 run (Jack Ruffolo kick)

A: McDonald 47 run (Ruffolo kick)

A: Ruffolo 23 field goal

A: Peter Riazzi 1 run (Ruffolo kick)

A: Jack DiMario 37 pass from Connor Bazelak (Ruffolo kick)

F: Jack Fessler 44 run (Matt Beckman kick)

F: Thomas Vogelsang 70 pass from Sully Janeck (Beckman kick)

A: Max Harry 3 run (Ruffolo kick)

F: Vogelsang 6 pass from Janeck (Run failed)

A: McDonald 2 run (Ruffolo kick)

About the Author