Turnovers plague RV in final district match-up with Holton
With the Holton football team having already locked up the district title, there may have appeared to be very little for the Wildcats to play for in Friday’s district finale against Royal Valley in Hoyt.
The Panthers had been eliminated from playoff contention the previous week and Royal Valley couldn’t manage to go out on a positive note as HHS dominated the game early and often on the way to a 51-6 victory.
“I thought it was a tough circumstance and then as the game went on we kind of had some things where we had a lot of turnovers and didn’t make it too hard on them,” RV coach Jake Lott said.
Royal Valley went three and out and punted to start the game and the Wildcats wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Holton took over at midfield and proceeded to grind out its first scoring drive, with Luis Butto capping things off with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers then got a quick first down before eventually being forced to punt again and Indie Allen proceeded to get the ball rolling for the Wildcats with a 65-yard touchdown run on the first play after the change of possession, creating some issues for the RV defense.
“After that first drive, I mean the floodgates just opened. We put too much pressure on ourselves on the play side and quit remembering our job on the back side,” Lott said.
Then, Butto did the same after the Panthers’ next punt as he took the fifth play of the Wildcats’ next drive 66 yards to the end zone to put HHS up 20-0 at the start of the second quarter. Butto and Allen both finished the night with 100-plus rushing yards and two touchdowns, which HHS coach Brooks Barta said illustrated the balance of this group of backs.
“I think any of our backs can do that, from quarterback to fullback to running back, so I think we’re as balanced as we’ve ever been at that position,” Barta said.
After that is when the turnover issues started to take effect for Royal Valley, as the Panthers gave the ball away on the first play of their next drive before Allen struck again for Holton.
Following that, Royal Valley started to move the ball on offense and went for it on fourth down near midfield only to fumble the ball again right into the hands of Holton’s Justin Rieschick who returned it 50 yards for the score to put HHS up 34-0.
That was one of six turnovers the Wildcat defense forced in the game and Barta attributed that strong effort to the team being focused on two particular aspects on that side of the ball.
“It’s kind of a balance between being aggressive and being option sound and I thought we were very aggressive on their inside dive and kind of forced them a little deeper into the backfield. We just tried to disrupt their rhythm and their offense,” Barta said.
Royal Valley finally did start to find a rhythm late in the first half as Derrick Barger entered the game at quarterback for Zack Lux who was battling a hip pointer leading up to Friday’s game.
Lott said the move was aimed to jumpstart the offense and it seemingly did as the Panthers drove inside the red zone with time winding down in the first half. That drive ended with another turnover, though, as consistency continued to plague the Panthers.
“When we made our reads, we were successful and when we didn’t, there were miscues. On top of that, we’d have a good play to get a first down and then we’d miss a block, so there’s just consistency issues on our part against a good team that’s going to do it’s job every time,” Lott said.
A pass interference penalty on Royal Valley then gave the Wildcats some additional help and set the HHS offense up for another score to start the second half, with Butto sprinting in from 29 yards out.
The Panthers then fumbled on the first play of the next two drives, which Holton turned into 10 points thanks to an 18-yard field goal from Arturo Reveles and an 11-yard touchdown run by Rieschick, making it 51-0 in favor of the visitors.
In the fourth quarter, Royal Valley started to grind out some yards again as a 39-yard run by Derrick Barger set up a short touchdown run by Garrett Schultz, but it was too little, too late as the Wildcats were well on their way to the 51-6 victory.
“I just thought our kids were well-prepared. I think it was real easy to overlook a game that didn’t have an impact on the playoffs and I thought we had a nice week of preparation,” Barta said. “We were just happy that our kids didn’t overlook Royal Valley. I thought we played well and we had some guys step in and play well for us.”
Rieschick was one of those guys who started at quarterback in place of Trey Tanking who had been dealing with some cramping issues. Now, Holton (8-1) will get ready to host Osawatomie (6-3) in playoff action at 7 p.m. on Friday night.
Meanwhile, the season comes to an end for Royal Valley (2-7). While it wasn’t the end the Panthers were hoping for, Lott knows time is on his side now as the returning players have another year to familiarize themselves with the new offense and to get bigger, stronger and faster in the offseason now that they’ve seen the level they need to be at to have some success.
“It was one where we kind of saw how far away we were and hopefully all of our kids coming back want to work to shorten that gap, so we can get there next year,” Lott said.
Oct. 31, 2014
Rushing: HHS- Butto (9-139-3 TDs), Allen (5-113-2 TDs), Rieschick (9-49-1 TD), Wright (3-19), S. Baum (3-24), Lovvorn (4-11), Booth (2-4), Pool (6-12), McClintock (1-0).
Defense: HHS- Rieschick (5 tackles, forced fumble, fumble recovery, INT, defensive TD), Allen (5 tackles, TFL, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries), Lovvorn (12 tackles), Frakes (5 tackles, 2 TFL, forced fumble), Martin (8 tackles, fumble recovery), Allen (7 tackles, 2 TFL), Wells (4 tackles, fumble recovery), Booth (6 tackles).