By Marty Farmer
With the exception of a humbling 45-0 loss against Immaculate Conception, the Riverside-Brookfield High School football team essentially has dominated its Metro Suburban Conference opponents this season.
That is until St. Edward clashed with the Bulldogs on Oct. 13 in Elgin. Leading by two touchdowns after the first quarter, the Green Wave appeared poised for an upset before RBHS rallied for a 21-14 win.
"It is encouraging to know that our kids are able to respond to adversity throughout the course of a game," RBHS coach Brendan Curtin said. "It seems like each week different players are stepping up at different times of the game to make plays."
Tied at 14-14 with 49 seconds left in regulation against St. Edward, RBHS quarterback Hunter Hughes threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Zach Vaia to cap off a 21-14 victory.
"It was a naked bootleg, play-action pass with Hughes," Curtin said about the game-winning TD. "While rolling to his left, Hughes found Zach Vaia running a backside post alone in the end zone. It was first-and 10 from their 25-yard line and we had two timeouts left, so we felt we could be a little aggressive in that situation."
St. Edward (4-4, 1-3 Metro Suburban) set the tone early when quarterback David Mlinarich tossed a 60-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Holter on the first play from scrimmage, giving the Green Wave a 7-0 lead.
Dave Madden added a 1-yard TD run in the final minute of the first quarter, extending St. Edward's advantage to 14-0.
The Bulldogs scored their first TD in the second quarter to make the score 14-7 at halftime.
After Madden missed a field goal attempt midway through the third quarter, RBHS senior running back Nicolas Del Nodal raced 75 yards into the end zone to pull the Bulldogs even at 14-14.
Hughes completed 14 of 21 passes for 182 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Del Nodal rushed 21 times for 193 yards and two TDs.
Defensively, Anthony Walsh led RBHS with nine tackles. On special teams, kicker Colin Riordan converted all three extra-point attempts.
RBHS senior Stefan Giminski contributed on both sides of the ball, with seven catches for 100 yards as a wide receiver, two tackles and five pass breakups as a cornerback, and a 42-yard average on four punts as the team's punter.
RBHS (7-1, 3-1) hosts Glenbard South on Friday, Oct. 20 in the regular-season finale. Game time is 7:15 p.m. at the Kennelly Athletic Complex in Brookfield.
"We are looking forward to ending the regular season on a high note at our home stadium after two road games," Curtin said.