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St. Francis 34
RB 7

Two years removed from a state championship and with only five returning starters, St. Francis reminded everybody – especially Riverside-Brookfield – that the Spartans still know how to win a big game. Spoiling Jason Rech’s debut as the new RB head coach, St. Francis rolled to a 34-7 nonconference victory over the host Bulldogs on Friday night.

Implementing a new offensive system, the young Bulldogs struggled in comparison to the smooth attack of the Spartans. Riverside-Brookfield had five turnovers and committed 12 penalties in the game.

“I thought we shot ourselves in the foot,” Rech said. “I had an inkling some of [those mistakes] might happen especially offensively where we are eight weeks into running our system.

“St. Francis is a great team, but I actually thought we matched their intensity and physical play. We’ll take plenty of positives from this game and keep working hard.”

On the opening series, St. Francis went on an eight-play, 60-yard scoring march that was capped off by Bob Miller’s 2-yard touchdown run. Four plays later, the Bulldogs botched their first punt attempt, giving St. Francis the ball back at the RB 1-yard line. Miller struck again with a scoring plunge into the end zone to build the lead to 14-0 midway through the first quarter.

Riverside-Brookfield showed signs of life in the second quarter when quarterback Nick Callahan engineered an impressive 12-play, 70-yard scoring drive that pulled the Bulldogs to within 14-7. The elusive signal-caller converted a key third-and-eight from the Spartans’ 15. Three plays later, Callahan scored on a one-yard push to finish off the drive.

Unfortunately, the Bulldogs’ momentum was short-lived as St. Francis running back Ben Trimble (5 carries, 95 yards) raced 66 yards into the end zone on the ensuing possession. Miller (16 carries, 65 yards) added a 12-yard touchdown run with 5:40 remaining in the first half to lift the Spartans to a comfortable 27-7 advantage.

The Spartans outscored RB 7-0 in a relatively uneventful second half. Callahan thrilled RB fans with another big play when he picked off a pass and returned it 40 yards; however, St. Francis retained possession due to an RB penalty. Junior linebacker Andy Suzuki also recovered a fumble in the second half for RB’s defense, which held St. Francis to just the one touchdown.

“We had some mental errors on both sides of the ball,” Suzuki said. “We just started putting this all together about six or seven weeks ago. Our effort was there. I think in the next couple of weeks we’ll get it going.”

After an 11-yard run by Jack Petrando extended the St. Francis lead to 34-7, RB mounted one last scoring threat late in the game.

The Bulldogs visit Lemont this Friday for another tough nonconference game (7 p.m.). The Indians (1-0) cruised to a 52-0 victory over Little Village in their opener.

“We have talented players,” said RB senior Tyler Radek, who played three positions on Friday. “I don’t see why we can’t beat Lemont [this week]. I felt like we should have beaten St. Francis, and I say that with confidence.”