On the Riverside-Brookfield High School football team’s fifth play from scrimmage on Oct. 14, junior quarterback Diego Gutierrez dropped back to pass. He found an opening and instead raced 53 yards down the left sideline to the 14-yard line.
“It felt like the linebacker jumped a little bit, so I just took it and took off,” Gutierrez said. “The energy after that play was crazy. I felt the energy build up and it was just fun to watch.”
The Bulldogs had many big plays against undefeated St. Francis but couldn’t convert enough and lost 35-14 in the showdown for the Metro Suburban Conference Red championship.
RBHS (5-3, 4-1 in MSC Red) closed to 14-7 at halftime after the Spartans (8-0, 4-0) scored on their first two possessions. But the Spartans also scored on their first two second-half possessions to pull away.
The Bulldogs finish the regular season on Oct. 21 at Bishop McNamara (3-5).
“If you look at how hard we played defensively and how physical we played compared to last week [losing 48-14 to IC Catholic Prep], it’s a night and day team. Offensively we still were able to move the ball,” RBHS coach Sam Styler said.
“We had a great first half. The guys knew they had to fight the entire time and they did. A couple of big plays here, a couple of drives and if we come up with those, it could have been different ball game but still proud of my guys the way they fought.”
The Bulldogs cashed in on their biggest play. With a perfectly executed play-action fake, Gutierrez lofted the ball nine yards over the middle to a wide-open Luke Kumskis at the 35. Kumskis ran the rest of the way untouched for a 74-yard touchdown that closed the gap to 14-7.
“That got us going,” Gutierrez said. “This was a good game for us passing wise, but we just have to put everything full circle. Once that full circle comes around and we’re hitting on all cylinders, no one’s stopping us.”
Gutierrez was 14 of 31 passing for 230 yards and rushed for 66 yards. The top target was Iggy Bielobradek (5 catches, 106 yards), who caught a well-placed 15-yard touchdown pass in the right corner against coverage with 5:26 left for the game’s final score. Kumskis had four catches for 111 yards.
After Gutierrez’s big run, the Bulldogs missed a 30-yard field goal. In the second quarter, they ran a 12-yard screen pass to Ryan Novak for fourth and 1 at the 4, but the Spartans stopped the run short.
Soon after a power outage delayed the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs’ first fourth-quarter drive ended when they couldn’t convert fourth-and-4 from the 23.
St. Francis missed a 45-yard field goal to end the half two plays after Chris Brown broke up a pass to the end zone. Drew Swiatek earlier had a midfield interception after the Spartans had a 61-yard touchdown run called back by a penalty. St. Francis had 12 penalties for 100 yards.
The Bulldogs (11-9), seeded No. 9 in the IHSA 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional, began Argo Regional play Oct. 18 against the No. 8 Argonauts with hopes of reaching the regional final at 6 p.m. Friday against top-seeded Lyons Township.
RBHS had its five-game winning streak snapped by area-ranked Morton 2-1 on Oct. 12.
The Bulldogs’ girls tennis season ended Oct. 14 at the IHSA Class 2A Lyons Township Sectional.
Top-four sectional finishers advanced to state. All four of RBHS’ entries lost in the round of 16, including No. 6-seeded seniors Lara Huns and Olivia Dvorak and seniors Kailee Harper and Isabella Diaz De Leon in doubles and senior Alyssa Cipriani and sophomore Harriet Juister in singles.
Harper and Diaz won a first-round match 6-3, 6-4 while the other three entries had byes.
Nazareth Academy tennis
The Nazareth Academy girls tennis team won its first sectional ever at the IHSA Class 1A Joliet Catholic Sectional and is sending three entries to the state meet.
Senior Makenzie Hyland and junior Audrey Moster along with seniors Diana Anos and McCahey Hardy were first and second in doubles. Junior Layden Almer was second in singles.