The football team had some big shoes to fill at running back and quarterback.
Gone from last year’s 9-3 team are all-state tailback , now a freshman at Iowa State, and quarterback , who is a freshman at Boston College.
While senior quarterback Logan Hutson struggled in his first start Saturday afternoon at Riverview Gardens, senior running back Dixon Anthon was a workhorse and led the Red Devils to a dominating 47-32 victory.
“I just wanted to do my best. It was all the line, all on them. I just ran behind them,” said Anthon, who had 28 carries for 113 yards and five touchdowns at halftime. He had just three carries for eight yards in the second half.
“I’m not sure Robbie ever scored five touchdowns in a half and Dixon is going to make us forget about Robbie,” Chaminade coach Doug Taylor quipped. “No, but that was awesome. He took over and did the job.”
Hutson finished 4-of-12 for 106 yards, but it was a 46-yard completion to Matthew Greer that set up Anthon’s first score. The Red Devils continued to use power football to add to its lead with a 7-yard Anthon run with 4:33 remaining in the first quarter.
The Rams had big plays there for the taking. Junior receiver Corey Winfield beat his defender deep three times in the first half, but quarterback John Gould led Winfield out of bounds twice and was sacked by Chaminade’s Max Wilhelm on the other play. Jeff Barlow later added a second-half sack.
“We looked like we knew what we were doing,” Taylor said. “We ran the ball like we like to do. We did everything we needed to do.”
The Riverview offense was abysmal in the first half with 20 offensive plays for minus five yards. Riverview’s only first down of the half came via penalty. The Rams also turned the ball over four times. Gould finished 9-of-24 for 145 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
“The first half was really challenging,” said first-year Riverview coach Kenric Walker. “I think it was first-game jitters.”
A Justin Smith interception of Gould led to a 4-yard Anthon touchdown early in a long and busy second quarter. Another completion to Greer – this time for 26 yards – set up a 5-yard Anthon plunge. Following two missed extra points and two failed two-point conversions, Chaminade finally got a Thomas Martin extra point to sail through the uprights for a 31-0 lead following another Anthon touchdown 39 seconds before halftime.
“Our goal was just to get low and drive them off the ball,” Anthon said.
The Rams decided to throw the ball on the first play of the ensuing possession and Gould’s pass was picked off by Spencer Byrne, who returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. Martin converted the extra point and Chaminade led 38-0 at the break, meaning the second half began with a running clock.
“We went in at halftime and it was basically a gut-check,” Walker said. “We told them they had to fight for it if they wanted it.”
A 51-yard kick return by Willie Maxwell, coupled with a 15-yard facemask penalty, set the Rams up at the Chaminade 32 to begin the second half. An 18-yard Darien Daniels run pushed the Rams into positive yardage for the first time in the game and set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Gould to Winfield.
“Momentum-wise, that was awesome,” Walker said. “That’s really what kick-started us. They had it in their minds that they were going to come out and try to win this game. They didn’t care that we were late, they wanted to make sure everybody’s mind was right before we stepped back out.”
With a mix of starters and backups in for Chaminade, the Rams continued to claw back. A 55-yard run by Winfield with 4:10 remaining in the third made it a 38-12 game. Chaminade fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and the Rams again took over in Red Devils territory.
They cut into the lead some more on a wild play. The shotgun snap was low and scooted past Daniels, who retreated 10 yards to pick up the ball, scrambled and lateraled back to Winfield, who then bolted for a 26-yard score.
“They showed some sheer will,” Walker said of his players. “A busted play, they wanted something to happen and they made it happen.”
The Rams did get a 46-yard pass play to Winfield to set up a 7-yard Daniels score. Fred Anderson also scored on a 12-yard pass but it was too little, too late as the Red Devils added a safety and a 48-yard touchdown run from Brandon Minor in the fourth quarter. A 74-yard touchdown pass to Maxwell was negated by one of 14 Riverview penalties for 120 yards.
“We’ve got a lot of running to do for all those penalties,” Walker said. “There are a lot of things we need to work on. The system is brand new and we’re still jelling and cohesively trying to come together.”
Check back for photos from the game.