Especially as a two-way starter, senior Luke Kumskis was elated when the Riverside Brookfield High School football team opened Friday’s Homecoming game with a 56-yard touchdown drive.
Then he and the defense saw Thornton respond with a 65-yard TD drive to tie the game.
“I was angry. I did not want them to score at all,” Kumskis said. “I wanted to shut them out completely. They came out here really stomping our field. I was mad but I’m glad the way we finished. That’s all that mattered.”
When all was finished, the Bulldogs couldn’t be stopped. They achieved their highest-scoring game in many years with a 70-21 victory, propelled by a 63-14 first half.
Senior quarterback Diego Gutierrez ran for five touchdowns of 5, 44, 1, 23 and 15 yards and threw one TD pass to Anthony Petrucci for 19 yards. Kumskis had TD runs of 2 and 7 yards, David Valencia had a 21-yard TD run and sophomore Jacob Retana got his first varsity TD, a 6-yard run in the third quarter. Senior Niamh Larson converted all 10 extra points.
“It’s been our game plan the last two weeks, trying to score more points this week,” Gutierrez said. “We came out firing, probably the best week of practice I’ve had on varsity, and the [offensive] line was just working their tails off so I give credit to them. Just the environment, the whole homecoming week, the themes during the week, the big game, going to that dance with a win, it’s awesome.”
The Bulldogs (4-2 overall, 2-2 in Southland Conference) had lost their last two games to undefeated Class 6A powerhouse Kankakee and Crete-Monee by a combined 90-13. Now they’re just a victory away from becoming playoff-eligible.
Based on season-by-season scores on IHSA.org dating back to 1996, these are the most points scored by RBHS in one game since beating Robeson 64-26 in 2009 and Fenton 63-18 in 2008.
“It’s always good getting back in the win column and obviously we kept our foot on the gas the entire time,” RBHS coach Sam Styler said.
“When we come out and play our style of football on both sides of the football and play really, really well, when we keep our energy high and play the way we know we can, great things happen for us. Hopefully, we keep that mindset moving forward.”
The Bulldogs scored TDs on their first nine possessions, with plenty of help from the defense.
Already leading 21-7 on Gutierrez TD runs, junior Nick Rivera blocked a punt that gave RBHS the ball at the 2. Kumskis scored on the next play.
“[I’ll remember] just cheering with my teammates, going crazy,” Rivera said. “I saw it wide open and I just ran for it and when [the ball] hit me, I was in awe. I was like, ‘Wow.’ It should have been a touchdown but I just wanted to make sure I recovered it first. It was very exciting.”
The Bulldogs scored their sixth and seventh TDs after recovering back-to-back pooch kicks by Retana just in front of their deep returners. Senior Meech Talley first came up with the Wildcats’ fumble at the 31 and Josh Gonzalez picked up the next one at the 23 that landed between their return lines.
Kumskis carried the ball for 16 and 7 yards for a 49-7 advantage.
“[Our scoring] felt amazing. Definitely, every time I was running the ball, credit that to the linemen and lead blockers because I’m just following them,” Kumskis said.
Gutierrez rushed for 168 yards and was 9-for-12 passing for 151 yards mostly to Tohma Tucker (3 catches, 67 yards) and James Espino (4 catches, 45 yards). He pulled off many Justin Fields-like scrambles to turn potential disasters into huge gains and TDs.
“The linemen, they’re always making holes for me and in the pocket my eyes are always up, never looking down. I’ve got to look for new holes, break away,” Gutierrez said.
Jack Grivetti (3 tackles, 5 assists) and Gonzalez (3 tackles, 3 assists) were leading tacklers. Rivera had two tackles for loss and Kumskis, Max Strong, Muhammad Salem, Julian Espinosa and John Super one each. Garrett Angshed and David Ledesma combined for two pass breakups.
“[I enjoyed] seeing all of the people that don’t really play get into the game,” Kumskis said. “They work just as hard as everybody else. They practice just as hard, so it was great seeing them make an impact.”