Matt Novak (above), an offensive spark plug for the Bulldogs, went down injured in the second half against Wauconda. His status for this week’s game was not known prior to press time. | Alex Rogals/ Staff Photographer

It is a truism in sports that you can’t win when you don’t score. That was the case Sept. 3 when the Riverside-Brookfield High School football team was shut out at home by visiting Wauconda 20-0. The loss wasn’t the only painful part of the evening.

Matt Novak, whose 49-yard field goal with time expiring defeated Morton in the first game of the season, was injured on the first play of the second half.

Trailing 7-0 at the half RBHS coach Brendan Curtin tried to spark his stagnant offense by putting the 180-pound Novak at quarterback in the wildcat formation. Novak took the snap and went up the middle for a three-yard gain but was swarmed by Wauconda tacklers and hurt his left leg.

After lying on the field for more than a minute, Novak got up and walked off under his own power. But he watched the rest of the second half from the sideline out of uniform. The status of his injury was not known immediately after the game.

“Obviously he’s a dynamic athlete,” said RBHS head coach Brendan Curtin said. “He’s a big part of what we’re doing. We’ll see, just hope for the best.”

RBHS (1-1) moved the ball at times but also made plenty of mistakes racking up 10 penalties, mostly on offense, for 100 yards.

“We had a couple explosive plays but just weren’t able to finish drives and we shot ourselves in the foot many times with penalties, dropped passes, “Curtin said. “You try to limit those things, but, for whatever reasons, you know, they just seemed to multiply as the game went on.”

The Bulldogs fell behind right away as Wauconda (2-0) scored on the opening drive of the game when quarterback Vince Bennett hit running back Colin Husko for a completion and Husko broke a tackle and raced into the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown. 

But the Bulldogs had a couple of chances to score. On their very first play from scrimmage wide receiver Brady Vaia ran a streak pattern and had his defender beat badly but quarterback T.J. Sloan overthrew him.

On the Bulldogs second drive Sloan hit Vaia for a 38-yard completion to move the Bulldogs to the Wauconda 20. A seven-yard completion to Matt Novak on fourth and four got the Bulldogs to the 7-yard line. Two runs by Cordell Rainey Jr. moved the Bulldogs to the three, but a costly delay of game moved the Bulldogs back. 

On third down, Sloan rolled left and the southpaw threw a little across his body and Husko intercepted the pass in the end zone to snuff out the drive. Husko also picked off Sloan in the fourth quarter.

Sloan completed 14 of 34 passes on the night for 176 yards and two interceptions. 

“He did a good job of keeping his eyes downfield when he was moving in the pocket, his pocket presence was solid at times,” Curtin said. “It’s his second start so there’s still a learning curve there, but it’s going fast and he’s a senior so we’ll expect him to bounce back.”

After Wauconda made it 20-0 with 4:31 left in the game on a nine-yard run by Collin Cheshier, Ryan Novak ran the ensuing kickoff back 71 yards. Attempting to avoid the shutout, the Bulldogs, aided by a roughing the passer and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the same play, moved to the Wauconda 7-yard line. On fourth and goal Sloan threw a swing pass to Ryan Novak, who broke a tackle and raced into the end zone but the touchdown was nullified by a holding call.

“We are a more disciplined team than what we showed,” Curtin said. “We’ll clean it up.”

As in their first game, the Bulldogs had trouble moving the ball on the ground, gaining only 39 yards rushing.

“We’re going to have to revisit how we’re going to establish the run game in terms of personnel to get it done up front,” Curtin said. 

Bennett, a speedy but small quarterback at 5-8 and 165 pounds, ran for 85 yards on 22 carries to lead the Wauconda offense. 

The Bulldogs open conference play next week at Chicago Christian (1-1).

LTHS 56, Addison Trail 0

The Lyons Township High School football team bounced back from a tough 30-23 opening week loss to New Trier by walloping Addison Trail 56-0 on Sept. 3 in a West Suburban Conference crossover game at Bennett Field in Western Springs.

The Lions (1-1) struck quickly as Stephen Borojevic raced 62 yards for a touchdown just 42 seconds into the game. The Lions led 28-0 after the end of the first quarter and led 49-0 at the half.