GARY, Ind. – Riverside Brookfield coach Brendan Curtin knew his team needed to score a lot of points to beat Gary West Side, but he didn’t know 49 wouldn’t be nearly enough.
The host Cougars feature Ohio State wide receiver recruit Lonnie Johnson as part of a talented offense, and that offense didn’t disappoint in a 76-49 win over the Bulldogs on Friday.
“Knowing the firepower they had, going into that game I knew we were going to have to hang quite a few points on them to get it done,” Curtin said. “For the most part, it was a one and two-score game for a majority of the game. A couple minutes into the fourth quarter is when they really started to pull away.”
RB jumped out to a 19-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, but couldn’t keep pace with the Cougars after that. It’s the second week in a row the Bulldogs have shot out to an early lead in a loss. RB led Lemont, 14-0, in Week 2 before losing, 44-20.
“It’s encouraging to know we’re capable of putting up three scores in a quarter,” Curtin said. “As far as sustaining and making plays on defense...that’s kind of a challenge for us right now.”
Quarterback Jack VandeMerkt got injured three plays into the game and was replaced by sophomore Ryan Swift. Swift kept the offense moving. He completed 13 passes and had touchdowns passes to Brian Kulaga and Lewis Rogers.
Curtin was complimentary of Swift’s competitiveness and believes he has a bright future.
“For a sophomore, the first time he ever really saw any real game action at the quarterback spot, we were pleased with his performance,” Curtin said. “When you look at Ryan Swift, he’s a football player. We knew that even though Jack was starting, we knew that he was a good enough player that we wanted to keep around.”
In an effort to get him on the field, Curtin said Swift has practiced at tight end, defensive line, linebacker and wide receiver.
Swift’s performance at quarterback was aided by a standout game from junior running back Kulaga, who had 134 yards and four rushing touchdowns in addition to the receiving touchdown.
These emerging offensive weapons will be needed in Week 4 at Rich Central. The Olympians are 3-0 with an offense averaging 48 points per game and a defense that has two shutouts.
“They’ve got a good squad,” Curtin said. “I hate to use the term shootout, but it’s quite possible it could get to that again.”
Gary West Side 76, Riverside Brookfield 49
Brian Kulaga: 134 rushing yards, 4 TDs; 70 receiving yards, TD
Ryan Swift: 2 passing TDs
Lewis Rogers: receiving TD
Week 4: Riverside Brookfield at Rich Central
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday
Where: 3600 W. 203rd St.
Records: Riverside Brookfield 0-3, Rich Central 3-0
Outlook: The Bulldogs' offense got going with 49 points against Gary West Side, but the defense couldn't keep up. RB has another powerful offense ahead in Week 4. Rich Central, which just beat Metro Suburban Conference rival Ridgewood 42-0, has scored over 40 points in all three of its wins. The Olympians' defense, led by Central Michigan recruit Malik Fountain at linebacker, has two shutouts already.