By Sam Smith
The Riverside Rebels football squad opened up the 2019 regular season in the win column by defeating the Normative Services Wolves 70-34 Friday in Basin.
“I thought it was a typical first game,” coach Sam Buck said. “There was both good and bad. I’ve been a little more critical of this team because I do feel the potential is there, but I was very pleased with many aspects. I thought we got a variety of production and had much more balance.”
The Rebels stormed out of the gates quickly and scored their first three touchdowns of the game on a 65-yard punt return by senior Ryan Miller, a 60-yard run by junior Tate Clutter and a 14-yard touchdown pass from junior Cash Duncan to sophomore Garret Ellis-Rudd to lead 18-0 with five minutes left in the first quarter.
After a Wolves kickoff return for a score, the Rebels added three more scores on a Clutter two-yard scamper, a 42-yard pass to Clutter from Ellis-Rudd and a 11-yard run from junior Zac O’Roake to lead 40-7 after one.
In the second quarter, the Rebels found the endzone again on a O’Roake 18-yard run to lead 46-7.
After another Wolves kickoff return for a score, Clutter took it in from 22 yards out to give the Rebels a 52-14 lead midway through the second quarter.
After a Wolves score, Duncan found Ellis-Rudd in the endzone again from 15 yards out to give the Rebels a 59-21 lead.
On the next Wolves possession, the Rebels scored again, this time on defense as Ryan Miller returned it back for a score as Riverside took a 65-21 lead into the locker room.
The Rebels struck first in the second half, this time on a 30-yard interception return by freshman Porter Duncan.
The Wolves added two scores in the fourth, but the damage was done as the Rebels went to on by 38.
“Scoring came in all three phases (offense, defense and special teams),” Buck said. “We had five different people score, we had nine different people get touches on offense. We got seven turnovers (three fumbles and three interceptions). On offense we had some really good spots, but we definitely can clean things up and been much sharper. We need to improve our efficiency and decision making by our quarterbacks. Our blocking continues to be a work in progress.”
Buck said the area that hurt the Rebels was in the special teams and the kick coverage.
“Granted we tried subbing in guys and getting all our guys reps,” the coach said. “But we had regulars not doing a great job and taking off plays. You can’t do that against a really good and dangerous returner. We got burned three times and fortunately one was called back. But we just can’t have those type of breakdowns. We’ll work to fix that for sure. When you’ve just scored and taken momentum, you don’t want to give it right back like that.
“Obviously, I was really excited about our turnovers we were able to create. It’s something we emphasize everyday and want them to be ball aware and ball hungry. But that being said I definitely think we need to improve is our defense as a whole. Just checking into the right defense and getting lined up. It didn’t always hurt us but if we don’t fix it soon it will only be a matter of time. Also just being more aware and understand of the situations (down and distance). But these are all correctable things and things I’ve got to coach better and make sure our kids understand. But overall it was a good first outing and it really gives us a base to work from. We’re looking forward to just keeping getting better and better each week.”
The Rebels will travel to Dubois for a road contest with the Rams Friday at 2 p.m. the Rams defeated Midwest 70-10 last week in Dubois.
“Dubois had a down year last year, but they came out strong last week,” Buck said. “Anytime you put up 70 points you’re dangerous. They had a strong showing against Midwest last week and we’ll have our hands full. It’ll come down to our defense shutting down the run game or at least limiting the big plays. I think our guys will improve on the things I’ve talked about and have a good outing. We’ve stressed staying hungry and not being satisfied with a week one performance.”