Dramatic win holds special meaning for Ringgold football, Rosensteel family

Saturday, September 28, 2019 | 6:37 PM

Ringgold’s student section rushed onto the field as time expired Friday night, overcome with excitement when a last-second field goal by Clayton Rosensteel gave the football team its first win in two years.

That alone made the moment emotional.

But for the junior kicker, his family, teammates and coach, there’s more to the story. The No. 86 jersey Rosensteel wears always was a favorite soccer number of his sister, Kaitlyn, who died in June when she and a friend were struck by lightning at Mammoth Park in Mt. Pleasant Township.

Rosensteel switched numbers this season to honor a sister everyone called “Moe,” and she was on his mind during the 27-yard attempt.

“I thought about her right before I kicked it,” he said. “One of the coaches, Mr. (Jason) Briscoe, he said do it for her. That really hit me.”

Rosensteel is a talented kicker and punter who is ranked nationally by Kohl’s Kicking Camps and aspires to kick in college, but Friday’s field goal was his first. His first-ever attempt was blocked three weeks ago, but this kick was good, and Ringgold won 16-13 over Beaver.

“It was amazing,” Rosensteel said. “I was hit in the legs and knocked down, but before I hit the ground, I raised my head and saw it (clear the goal posts).

“I was happy to see all the fans run out and all the joy they had.”

In the crowd at Joe Montana Stadium were his parents and his sister, Keli, who wears No. 86 as a junior on Robert Morris’ soccer team.

“Moe used to work with him, just shagging the balls, and every once in a while she’d tell him: ‘Move over, I’m taking the kick,’ ” their father, Ed, said. “It was something they got to do together. … He has it (written) on his shoes, and we talk about ‘Play for Moe.’ But the thing we try to tell him is, you’re not playing for her. You’re playing to honor her.”

She was killed June 13 along with Brendan McGowan, a Greensburg Central Catholic grad, when lightning struck them and splintered a nearby tree in the Westmoreland County park. Both were 18. She was a standout athlete and was signed to play soccer this fall at West Virginia Wesleyan.

Rosensteel was at football practice that day.

“I had to go tell him that one of his teammates’ mother was going to pick him up,” Ringgold football coach Darwin Manges said. “When he left, I brought the kids in and said there’s been a tragedy. … It was an emotional time.”

Manges, a 1985 Ringgold graduate, had just started his first summer as the school’s football coach. He coached high school and college for years in Delaware but decided to return home and take over Ringgold’s program.

He recalled hugging Rosensteel when he returned to practice a little more than a week later. On Friday night, Manges hugged him again.

The first-year coach was excited to earn his first win at his alma mater, snapping an 18-game losing streak that stretched through multiple coaches. The win, he believes, could be a sign the program is on the rise again.

But Manges also understood what that moment meant to the Rosensteels.

“I’ve grown up with these people,” he said. “Their mother works with my mother at the hospital. It’s a close-knit community, and everybody knows everybody. It’s something that’s going to take time (to heal), but I texted their dad (Saturday) and said if that gave you guys a little bit of happiness and joy, then so be it.”

Manges gave the team a day off Saturday to prepare for the school’s homecoming dance but planned to pull players together Sunday to watch film. They might start with the field goal.

Ed Rosensteel said he has seen championship celebrations at Greensburg Central Catholic where Kali played soccer, but the response to Friday night’s victory was different. His son already was offered a free milkshake at a local restaurant, he said with a laugh.

“We won titles and you cheer, but to watch everybody storm the field, even coaches that I grew up playing with or watching play, it just shows how much it means to the school and the community,” Ed Rosensteel said. “It’s exciting for Clay, and it’s exciting for us to watch him do that, but we were excited for Noah on the snap, Jason on the hold and the whole team.”

The victory was Ringgold’s first since Oct. 6, 2017, which, coincidentally, also was Moe’s birthday.

“There were a lot of emotions running last night,” Manges said. “A lot of tears and a lot of laughter from kids who have been through so much — in particular, our kicker.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter .


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