While the Riverside-Brookfield High School football team enjoyed a tremendous turnaround season, it’s certainly understandable if the players chose to discard any memories of their two meetings with Glenbard South.
A week after losing a [38-34] thriller to the Raiders for the Metro Suburban West title, the teams met again in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs. Host Glenbard South sent RBHS packing for good with a 31-7 win over the Bulldogs, who finished the season with at 6-4 record and second-place showing [4-1 record] in conference.
The Raiders methodically pulled away from RBHS with a balanced offensive attack. With 2:19 left in the fourth quarter, RBHS quarterback Ryan Swift threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Matt Chapp for the Bulldogs’ lone score Saturday and final TD of the season. Swift threw multiple interceptions as the Bulldogs struggled offensively overall, losing the line of scrimmage battle against the Raiders.
The Bulldogs committed five turnovers, including a costly fumble at midfield returned by the Raiders’ Dylan Valdez for a touchdown, which extended the hosts’ lead to 17-0 in the third quarter. RBHS also failed to establish any kind of ground game, finishing with less than 20 yards rushing.
Sean Cooke (16-yard run), Billy Bair (28-yard catch) and Jack Curtis (12-yard run) each scored a touchdown and Andre Steiger kicked a 24-yard field goal for Glenbard South.
Despite the lopsided score, RBHS coach Brendan Curtin praised his team’s effort particularly on the defensive side.
“The defense did really well,” Curtin said. “The way they played was just outstanding.”
For Chapp, who missed the majority of his junior campaign with an injury, this season was special due to the players’ togetherness.
“Even though coming back from my injury was a personal goal, it was the team that really helped me do it,” Chapp said. “We have such a good brotherhood here. It made me want to get better even faster so I could be on the field with my teammates.”
Glenbard South (8-2), which has won right games in a row, advances to face host Lake Forest in the second round of the 7A playoffs.
Under Curtin, the Bulldogs showed substantial progress this fall. After recording just three wins (combined) over the past two seasons, RBHS racked up six victories this season including an impressive five-game winning streak. During the Bulldogs’ streak, they scored 40 points or more in four of five games.
A plethora of playmakers also emerged on both sides of the ball. Chapp, who played five positions for RBHS, served as the Bulldogs’ most consistent and explosive scoring threat. Swift, running back Brian Kulaga, tight end Kyle Tracy and wide receivers Dean Zigulich and Antone Dixon also flourished during the season.
The defense, which Curtin and his coaching staff refer to as “The Dark Side,” also turned in a solid 2014 performance. Led by linebackers Jordan Pribyl-Pierdinock and Mike McCabe, defensive linemen Jordan Petronella and Dan Magee and safety Adolfo Linares, the Bulldogs shut out Morton 22-0 in the season opener and held three other opponents to seven points or less.
Swift, Zigulich, Pribyl-Pierdinock, along with Jeremiah Clarkson and Zach Witken, all return next season as the Bulldogs’ top players.
-Marty Farmer contributed to this story