It’s officially known as the Martin H. Kennelly Athletic Complex, but after Friday night maybe it should be known as Ryan Swift field. Swift, Riverside-Brookfield High School’s starting quarterback, celebrated senior night in style as he ran for four touchdowns and passed to good buddy Dean Zigulich for another as the Bulldogs notched their first win in their new stadium beating Glenbard South 35-21.
The win secured RBHS (8-1, 4-1) second place in the Metro Suburban West Conference and avenged two losses to Glenbard South at the end of last season. The victory also assures the Bulldogs a first-round playoff game at home.
Immaculate Conception, which routed Fenton 56-15 on Friday, won the conference championship.
“It’s special to get that one at home under the belt,” RBHS head coach Brendan Curtin said. “It’s a little extra special getting redemption, if you will, on a team that has had our number in the past.”
Swift said that the heartbreaking last minute loss to Glenbard South (5-4, 3-2) in the last game of the regular season which cost RBHS a conference title and then a playoff loss to the Raiders the very next week wasn’t forgotten.
“We definitely remembered last year and how it finished and we were dissatisfied with that,” Swift said. “We wanted to come back and you don’t want to head into the playoffs losing.”
Swift ran for 91 yards on 21 carries and completed 13 of 23 passes for 206 yards while also playing linebacker on defense. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback is bigger than some of his offensive linemen. He showed off his size, strength and determination on tough runs up in the middle all night. Swift opened the scoring by breaking a tackle at the five yard line and dragging multiple defenders into the end zone to score on an 11-yard run with 8:55 left in the first quarter.
He bulled his way into the end zone three more times on one-yard quarterback sneaks.
“I’m a big boy obviously,” Swift said. “God’s blessed me with size and I just use it.”
But it was a perfect back shoulder 20-yard pass from Swift to Zigulich with 9:15 left in the game that broke a 21-21 tie and put RBHS ahead to stay. Facing a third and 11 from the Glenbard South 20, the RBHS coaches split Zigulich to the short side of the field and got the one on one matchup they were looking for and Swift put the ball right where it needed to be. The countless hours that Swift threw to Zigulich over the past four years paid off.
“Dean and I must have repped that over a thousand times over the four years we’ve been together,” Swift said.
Senior Jake Campbell pounced on a Glenbard South fumble on the Raiders’ first play after the touchdown pass and the Bulldogs took over at the Glenbard South nine yard line. On fourth and inches at the goal line, Swift appeared to be stopped short but he kept his legs churning and finally got barely across the goal line with 6:48 left.
“The O-line just kept pushing and I wasn’t going to give up on them and they weren’t going to give up on me and we got it in,” Swift said.
The Bulldogs’ second touchdown was set up when the Glenbard South punter dropped a high snap and recovered it at his own one yard line setting up a Swift sneak into the end zone.
Zigulich caught six passes for 88 yards and one touchdown and made an interception in the end zone late in the first half.
Senior tight end/linebacker Sam Falk had a strong game as well, catching five passes for 88 yards and blocking a punt.
“Coach always says that he wants us playing our best football going into week 9 and I think we proved that today,” Swift said.