Riverside-Brookfield's season opener was supposed to be the team's home opener, but due to a delay in construction at Shuey Stadium the Bulldogs were forced to open at Metamora Friday night. The result wasn't pretty as the Bulldogs fell 55-29.
RB's offense never found a rhythm, enabling the efficient Redbirds too many opportunities against a beleaguered defense. Despite snaring an early 7-0 lead early in the first quarter, the Bulldogs were unable to sustain Metamora's onslaught and by halftime trailed 34-13.
"They (Metamora) came back and tied the score at 7-7 and then we threw an interception with about seven minutes to go in the first quarter," RB coach Otto Zemen said. "We never really recovered after that.
"They sold about 5,000 tickets for the game and the fans were very loud, still, I know we can play much better than that."
Despite completing 27 of 50 passes for 294 yards, including three touchdowns passes, it was a rough day for quarterback Chris Pesek. The senior threw three interceptions and was sacked seven times for a total loss of 55 yards. While the Bulldog offense posted one three-and-out after another, the defense began to tire and the Redbirds took advantage.
"They are a very good team and we should have played them better," Zemen said. "We just could not get anything going, and they were firing on all cylinders. The longer our defense was out there, the more seams they found and like a good football team they took advantage."
The second half was carbon copy of the first, with the first Bulldog offensive possession resulting in a three-and-out. Metamora continued to play a tight box defense, which limited RB's running game.
The Bulldogs' passing game also continued to sputter throughout the third quarter, while Metamora continued to roll, taking a 41-21 lead into the fourth.
Despite the drubbing, there were some bright spots for RB. Senior wide receiver Greg Pawlik grabbed nine receptions for 161 yards and two touchdowns. While Zemen was very pleased with Pawlik's performance, he still needs the rest of his offense and Pesek to perform. Zemen expects his senior quarterback to complete 65 to 75 percent of his passes in order for the Bulldogs to be successful.
"Pesek has to lead us on offense if we expect to win this season," Zemen said. "He didn't have a good game and he has to turn it around, but I know he will. He is a great quarterback and he and the rest of the kids will rebound."
The Bulldogs will need to rebound quickly in order to prepare for another difficult road game against Nazareth (Saturday at 1:30 p.m.).
"These first three non-league games are really going to test us," Zemen said. "I know if we play to our potential we will be fine. The guys have worked really hard and I know they have a commitment to winning. It is just a matter of time until we get everything going and start winning."