RIVERSIDE – Riverside Brookfield’s home opener started so well, but the Bulldogs still are learning to win.
RB led Lemont, a Class 6A semifinalist a year ago, 14-0 in the first quarter before the Indians stormed back to win, 44-20. The Bulldogs used a no-huddle offense and took advantage of a blocked punt by John Husir to spark the early lead.
The 24-point spread wasn’t what the Bulldogs were hoping for, but it was improvement over the past three meetings between the two teams when Lemont won by an average of more than 40 points per game.
“Kids are kind of learning what it takes to endure a four quarter fight,” RB coach Brendan Curtin said. “I think it was an eye opener in the sense that they realized when they’re clicking and playing well there really isn’t anyone they can’t hang with, but now it’s just a matter of extending that drive and that fight for four quarters of football.”
Jack VandeMerkt hit Lewis Rogers and Matt Chapp for first-quarter touchdown passes and the Bulldogs didn’t score again until the fourth quarter when backup QB Ryan Swift hit Rogers for a 30-yard score.
Curtin said Justin Agne and Jordan Petronella were the standouts on the defensive side of the ball. Richard Theus, Brian Kulaga and Husir also were among the Bulldogs’ leading tacklers.
“There are some positives to take out of it, but at the same time we gave up quite a bit of unanswered points,” Curtin said. “When you’re going up against a true two-platoon team, we just struggled a little bit. We had a few key guys that are going both ways and are trying to gauge what it takes to contribute on both sides of the ball, but I’m confident that we’ll get there.”
Despite the loss and the 0-2 hole, Curtin remains optimistic that the team can salvage the season. In order to begin the recovery, RB will try to pick up a win in Indiana against Gary West Side.
The Cougars have a potent offense that features Ohio State-commit Lonnie Johnson and JonVea Johnson at wide receiver.
“They possess quite a passing threat,” Curtin said. “They have a tremendous quarterback and they have several go-to receivers. They hang their hat on a spread offense. They sling it around and have kind of a smash-mouth style defense. They are kind of a bend, but don’t break defense. We’ll certainly have our hands full. They’re a team that’s built on speed as well so it should be an interesting matchup.”
Lemont 44, Riverside Brookfield 20
• Jack VandeMerkt 2 passing TDs
• Lewis Rogers 2 TD receptions
• Matt Chapp TD reception