RV football picks up big homecoming win against Santa Fe Trail
Redemption is not easy to come by, but the Royal Valley football team made it look pretty simple in a non-league match-up against Santa Fe Trail on Friday night.
The Panthers likely weren’t lacking motivation on homecoming night, but the sting of two losses in the team’s previous two meetings (including the only league win in the Chargers’ Big Seven tenure) likely added fuel to the fire. That fire spread pretty quickly, too, as RV pulled away in a cathartic 40-14 victory.
“I think half of it is we knew that, after last year, they were a pretty good team. They had it going the right direction. We wanted to be in that spot and to do that we had to put together a good game and beat them,” RV coach Jake Lott said of his team’s drive on Friday.
Early on, it didn’t look great for the Panthers as the team’s first two offensive series ended in fumbles. Luckily for Royal Valley, the defense came to play and made up for those offensive inefficiencies to start the game.
“We definitely didn’t win the field position battle early on, but our defense came out and played really hard to kind of stop up the leaks,” Lott said.
That started at the line of scrimmage, a battle in which Lott felt his team would be at a disadvantage going into the contest. However, the Panthers quickly took control there on both sides of the ball, which was a big boost in helping Royal Valley dominate the game.
It wasn’t until the second quarter that either team scored, though, but the points went up quickly for Royal Valley just before halftime.
First, Derrick Barger got into the end zone from six yards out for his first of five touchdowns on the night. Then, the Panthers quickly got the ball back and executed their hurry-up offense to near perfection, ending in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Zack Lux to Trent Terrel.
Leading 13-0 at the break gave Royal Valley a great deal of momentum, but it was the team’s third quarter performance that may have deflated Santa Fe Trail for good.
The Panthers scored three touchdowns in the third and while Santa Fe Trail got on the scoreboard following a big kickoff return, Royal Valley had an immediate answer as Barger tallied his third touchdown of the period by breaking free for a 60-yard score that seemed to be the final straw.
“We kind of put down the gas pedal and took advantage of some of their mistakes they were making and put the game away,” Lott said.
Solid, mistake-free football also kept the Chargers at arm’s length, which Lott said was good to see. Barger then added one final score in the fourth quarter for Royal Valley as his exploits are now becoming pretty commonplace for the team.
“We’re starting to come to expect this big performance he’s been giving week in and week out, which is tough to do, but he’s got the heart and the work ethic to do it,” Lott said.
Santa Fe Trail added one final score with a little more than four minutes left in the game, as quarterback Bryce Erickson found Daniel Courtwright for a 28-yard score, but it did little to change the outcome of the game.
Collectively, the Panthers put together a solid game on both offense and defense and executed the game plan well. It wasn’t perfect, but Lott noted the team worked together to make up for any mistakes and keep Santa Fe Trail in check.
Getting the win over Santa Fe Trail was a good feeling, Lott said, and while Royal Valley proved a lot in that game he was also quick to remind his team that it has to keep pushing forward.
“It’s definitely a big game. It was one that we had circled, but also we need to understand it was just a measuring point for a third of the way through the season,” Lott said. “There’s still a lot of season left and we are in no way, shape or form peaking right now. We’re still going to improve every week and hopefully our best football will be when it matters.”
Now, Royal Valley (2-1) will head back on the road for another non-league contest against McLouth this coming Friday. The game will start at 7 p.m.
Sept. 18, 2015
RV: 70 plays, 483 total yards, three turnovers and four penalties for 42 yards.
SFT: 40 plays, 158 total yards, two turnovers and one penalty for 10 yards.
Rushing: RV- Barger (26-194-5 TDs), Lux (12-99), Ensley (4-36), Hart (12-68), Ehrhart (1-6); SFT- Courtwright (9-37), Boudeman (11-44-1 TD), Greenfield (2-2), Watkins (5-34), Erickson (2-(-17)), Newton (2-18).
Passing: RV- Lux (5-12-83-1 TD); SFT- Erickson (2-9-40-1 INT-1 TD).
Receiving: RV- Terrel (5-62-1 TD), Stithem (1-11); SFT- Courtwright (1-28-1 TD), Dean (1-12).