Injuries, inconsistent play and a brutal nonconference schedule have all played factors in Riverside-Brookfield’s 0-4 start this season. All those elements came into play Friday during the Bulldogs’ 33-6 loss at Rich Central.
The Olympians seized a 21-0 halftime lead and never looked back against the depleted Bulldogs. Making his second career varstiy start under center, RBHS sophomore quarterback Ryan Swift scored the Bulldogs’ lone touchdown on a seven-yard on a fourth down to whittle the RBHS deficit to 21-6. Swift completed 20 of 34 passes for 159 yards with an interception and also had 27 yards rushing on 12 carries.
The Bulldogs’ normal starting quarterback Jack VandeMerkt has been saddled with a shoulder injury, although the 6-foot-7 senior logged some playing time at wide receiver against Rich Central. Matt Chapp, another versatile offensive threat, is out for the season due to injury.
While RBHS struggled offensively, Rich Central tacked on two more touchdowns in the second half to pull away for the victory.
“We couldn’t get our ground game going,” RBHS head coach Brendan Curtin said. “Rich Central is an excellent team so we knew had our hands full coming into the game.”
Aside from Swift, the Bulldogs also received solid performances from senior wide receiver/defensive back Lewis Rogers and recent varsity call-up Dean Zigulich, another wideout. Rogers had four catches for 38 yards and also tallied five tackles and an interception. The Bulldogs caused three turnovers against Rich Central.
Zigulich played admirably in his varsity debut, hauling in six catches for 70 yards.
“I was very pleased with Zigulich’s performance,” Curtin said. “Dean’s a football player and we’re eager to see his development at the varsity level.”
RBHS kicks off Metro Suburban Conference action next week with a road game Friday (7:15 p.m.) at Ridgewood.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Curtin said about the matchup with the Rebels. “Their kids always play hard, and while their numbers are a bit down, it’s always a tough, physical conference game.”
After the Ridgewood tilt, the Bulldogs finally return to Shuey Stadium (after playing four of fives game on the road to open the season). RBHS closes the season with three of four games at home, starting with the Bulldogs’ homecoming game against Glenbard South on Friday, October 4 at 7:15 p.m.