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The reasons for the Riverside-Brookfield football team’s 20-0 loss to visiting Fenton on Friday night served as a microcosm of the Bulldogs’ season-long struggles: costly penalties and turnovers coupled with a lack of consistency and production, particularly on offense.

It was a tough way for 27 seniors to end their RB football careers. The Bulldogs also missed running back/linebacker Nick Callahan, who was excused from the team for missing practice leading up to the Fenton game.

“I’m proud of our seniors for the commitment they made to our program,” RB coach Jason Rech said. “They did what we wanted them to do and what we asked them to do. I know it’s not reflected in our win-loss record this year, but the program is in better shape because they were here.”

While RB honored its seniors with a pre-game ceremony, the Bison sideline also carried a unique, nostalgic vibe.

Otto Zeman’s return to Shuey Stadium certainly was bittersweet but ultimately victorious. After being replaced by Rech as the RB head coach last summer, Zeman has served as Bison offensive coordinator this season, helping head coach Mark Kos guide the Bison to a 7-2 record and opening round Class 6A postseason meeting against Lake Forest this weekend.

“This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Zeman said about the return to his alma mater. “I was on the [RB] sideline for 40 years so it was really different being on the other side. [Tonight] was really about our Fenton kids and they gave me a nice gift.

“I do want to say Riverside Brookfield is a great high school and they have some wonderful people over there.”

While Fenton (7-2, 2-2 Metro Suburban Conference) didn’t run Zeman’s multiple-formations, wide-spread offense efficiently, the Bison made enough big plays to earn a conference road win. Alan Geneva scored on a 9-yard run at the 3:31 mark of the first quarter and threw a 60-yard touchdown strike to Augie Castellanos midway through the second quarter to stake Fenton to a 14-0 lead.

Riverside-Brookfield (2-7, 1-3) appeared back in the game when Dylan Beketic scampered 51 yards into the end zone at the 10:34 mark of the third quarter, but a holding penalty erased the score. Defensively, the Bulldogs caused four Fenton turnovers, including a pair of interceptions from linebacker Joe Odeh. Junior cornerback Kevin Garvey also had a pick and senior linebacker Andy Suzuki recovered a fumble.

“I thought our defense played well,” Rech said. “For the most part, we took them out of what they wanted to do offensively.”

The Bulldogs return a handful of key players next season, notably Odeh, Garvey, Brad Bednar, Justin Agne, Louis Grigoletti, Dave Swon, Santiago Beltran and Mitch Malloy. Luke Keller and Jack VandeMerkt are the leading quarterback candidates to replace Beketic.

The RB sophomore and freshmen teams finished 13-5, collectively, this season.

“We’ll be a relatively young football team,” Rech said. “Our schedule won’t be any easier as we’re facing the same teams, but I’m excited about next year. We’re bringing up some players with speed which we lacked a bit this season.”

Metro Suburban, final conference standings




Glenbard South









Elmwood Park