Halfway through a season with rapidly developing storylines, the Riverside-Brookfield High School football team offered two more narratives during its 45-21 win over Wheaton Academy on Saturday.
First, the Bulldogs’ do-it-all senior Matt Chapp was simply a nightmare for Wheaton Academy to defend. And, second, RBHS actually won a game on the road, in convincing fashion no less.
Since coach Brendan Curtin took over the program in 2012, the Bulldogs had only one road victory [42-7 at Elmwood Park, Oct. 11, 2013] prior to Saturday.
“I was most satisfied with our ability as a team to get it done on the road,” Curtin said. “That’s been hard for us to so we focused on that goal and the kids responded to the challenge.”
After a couple of tough seasons in 2012 and 2013 in which RBHS won three of 15 games, the team is 3-2 this year including a 1-0 record in the newly formed Metro Suburban Conference West.
And although RBHS has several playmakers, Chapp has been stealing the show all season. Against Wheaton Academy, the speedy, elusive senior ran 10 times for 171 yards, returned two kickoffs for 97 yards and had two catches for 28 yards. He produced 321 all-purpose yards on 16 touches, scored three touchdowns and also punted twice.
On the third play from scrimmage, Chapp broke loose for a 57-yard touchdown run to put RBHS up 7-0 at the 10:42 mark of the first quarter. Chapp scored again on a 42-yard scamper into the end zone midway through the second quarter.
Wheaton Academy quarterback David Thrasher tossed a 55-yard pass to Dillon Oleson to pull the Warriors within 21-14 at the 3:35 mark of the second quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Chapp raced 88 yards for a touchdown extending the Bulldogs’ lead to 28-14 at halftime.
Wheaton Academy fumbled the kickoff to open the second half. Four plays later, RBHS scored a touchdown, and at 35-14, the rout was on. Midway through the fourth quarter, quarterback Ryan Swift connected with Dean Zigulich on a 23-yard touchdown pass.
As if Chapp wasn’t enough to deal with for the host Warriors, Swift turned in an efficient 14-for-19 for 136 yards passing performance.
“Obviously, Matt was great but I was very pleased with Ryan’s performance as well,” Curtin said. “Ryan made good decisions with the ball and he’s done what we’ve asked of him.”
Zigulich led the wide receiving corps with five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Nick Fucinato continued his solid work by making a 29-yard field goal and all six PATs.
The Bulldogs’ best all-around performer aside from Chapp Saturday was linebacker/running back David Pribyl-Pierdinock. He tallied 71 yards rushing and a touchdown on just three carries and also had five tackles and a sack.
Jordan Petronella (2½ tackles, sack), Dan Magee (4½ tackles, 2 tackles for loss) and Adolfo Linares (interception) also led the defense.
“Our front seven on defense did a great job containing the run,” Curtin said. “I’m very pleased with the effort and attitude that the ‘dark side,’ that’s what we call our defense, has been bringing to the field.”
David Thrasher finished 15 of 29 for 216 yards and Scottie McLean hauled down six catches for 88 yards for Wheaton Academy (4-1, 0-1). The Warriors entered their conference opener having only allowed seven points in four games. RBHS certainly solved the Wheaton Academy defense.
The Bulldogs are also healthy, which is a welcomed change to last year’s injury-riddled squad.
“Like every other team in the state entering the sixth week of the season, we have some nicks and bruises but our kids are doing a good job of fighting through that,” Curtin said. “We’ve had some very tough, physical practices. I think our kids are really starting to understand what it takes to get on top of the mountain from week to week.”
RBHS remains on the road this week against Immaculate Conception on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 1 p.m.