Efficient offensive attack leads RVHS football to big win over Hiawatha in first league contest
On Friday night, it seemed like the only thing that could stop the Royal Valley football team in its home opener against Hiawatha was the clock.
From the opening kick, the Panthers took charge and never looked back, scoring on their first nine possessions on the way to a 61-6 victory to start league play.
Royal Valley wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, as the team racked up three quick first downs on its opening possession before getting a 27-yard touchdown run from Derrick Barger.
“It felt good,” RV coach Jake Lott said of that first drive. “We kind of expect that out of our offense, to come out and execute. Once we were that effective with it, we kind of knew, if our bread and butter’s going to work then we felt we were going to be highly successful and have a pretty good night offensively.”
“It helped set the tone and then we just kept saying, all night, we have to keep our foot on the gas,” Lott said.
The Panthers didn’t just kept their foot on the gas. They left the Red Hawks in the dust early, as Barger got a strip to cause a turnover on Hiawatha’s first offensive possession.
Royal Valley quarterback Zack Lux and slot back Noah Hart then connected for a quick strike on the Panthers’ next possession, with Hart hauling in a 61-yard bomb for the score to put RV up 14-0 in less than four minutes.
Before the season began, Lott noted he made some changes to the offense to help make it more effective and exploit some more playmakers, like Hart, and the coach saw that pay off in spades with him in particular on Friday night.
“Sometimes you just have to be able to have a guy who can make stuff happen. I feel like we have a few guys, Noah Hart being one,” Lott said. “He showed his potential, just having a whole year under his belt and he’s come out head and shoulders above where he started last year or even where he ended the year. He’s really been a pretty solid threat for us at that slot position, which helps our offense.”
After the long pass play and another defensive stop, thanks to a sack by Trent Terrel, Lux used his legs for a short touchdown run that put the Panthers up by three scores. Hart then struck again shortly into the second quarter.
Following a Red Hawks punt, Hart broke free for a 20-yard touchdown run on the second play to push the home team’s lead to 28-0.
On the defensive end, the Panthers then got another big play as Jarrett Roy busted through Hiawatha’s offensive line and forced a fumble on the Red Hawks’ next series. Terrel recovered to give possession back to the Panthers.
The other half of Royal Valley’s two-headed monster in the backfield then struck again. Despite several penalties on the drive, Barger still managed to put six more points on the board with a 35-yard touchdown run to make it 34-0. Barger finished the night with an impressive 217 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Hart continued to rack up the offense as well, scoring on Royal Valley’s final two possessions of the first half. He covered 43 yards in two plays on the team’s next drive and added a 35-yard touchdown after an interception by Noah Ensley to give the Panthers a 48-0 advantage going into halftime.
In total, Hart finished the game with 197 total yards of offense and three touchdowns.
Lott noted that no matter the situation, coaches will always try to find ways to challenge their teams. As well as Royal Valley was doing on Friday, the only real challenge was to keep it up despite limited time for the starters in the second half.
The Panthers responded as Barger opened the second half with a 49-yard run that set up a six-yard touchdown run by Ensley. Those explosive plays RV continued to rack up throughout the night are something that Lott said should help add another dimension to the offense.
“Those just take a lot of pressure off you,” Lott said. “We want time of possession. We want to have long drives and eat clock, but if we have the ability, we want to be an explosive offense and when you have those explosive plays in this offense it makes it that much harder on defense.”
From there, leading 55-0, the back-ups came in and held their own, especially on the defensive end. Despite the turnovers, Royal Valley did give up some big plays to Hiawatha on third and long and that is something that reading keys and executing assignments will help correct in the future.
The second string defense continued to keep the Red Hawks in check, though, and Brandon Rodewald added a score for the Panthers in the fourth quarter before Hiawatha finally got on the scoreboard as time expired to give the game its final score.
While the big win is a nice confidence boost for Royal Valley, Lott noted the team cannot be complacent and has to keep building on the momentum as it enters homecoming week and a tough non-league game against Santa Fe Trail on Friday.
“You can’t hang back and be satisfied. You have to understand that this week’s a new week,” Lott said. “We’re going to have to get ready for Santa Fe Trail, which we believe is a big game. It’s time to get better and move on to next week.”
The Panthers (1-1) and Chargers will kick off in Hoyt at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Sept. 11, 2015
Rushing: RV- Barger (13-217-3 TDs), Hart (8-136-2 TDs), Lux (6-41-1 TD), Ensley (3-17-1 TD), Rodewald (5-15-1 TD); SFT- Woods (6-52-1 TD), Sample (15-34), Pierce (7-29), Kunkel (5-(-1)).
Passing: RV- Lux (1-61-1 TD); Hiaw.- Kunkel (13-51-1 INT).
Receiving: RV- Hart (1-61-1 TD).
Defense: RV- Roy (8 tackles, forced fumble), Barger (6 tackles, forced fumble, fumble recovery), Ensley (5 tackles, 1 INT), Aitkens (5 tackles), Terrel (sack, fumble recovery), Rodewald (sack), Garrison (fumble recovery).