Local Sports

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Prep Football: Riverdale enjoys perch atop NCC Silver Division
By JAMIE BAKER

Staff Writer

MOUNT BLANCHARD -- Riverdale's football team finds itself in a pretty good spot heading into Week 7.

The Falcons are looking down at the rest of the teams in the North Central Conference's Silver Division.

Riverdale (4-2, 3-0 NCC) has strung together three straight wins, beating Lucas, Buckeye Central and Crestline and has a one-game lead over Colonel Crawford in the standings.

Granted, the Falcons' last three opponents are a combined 2-16, but there's certainly no doubt coach Jeremy Kloepfer's crew has come a long way since a Week 1 loss (43-14) to Arlington.

"That first quarter of that first game wasn't good," Kloepfer said of his team's performance in the opener when they fell behind 33-0 to the Red Devils in the first quarter. "We weren't doing many things right.

"We really got beat up front in that first game. We changed some things personnel-wise and it's really made a difference for us. Plus, I think they took the way we got beat to heart and they've really worked hard to get better since then."

The Falcons now have fewer linemen going both ways and that's proven to be a key as well.

"Our offensive line isn't big. They probably average about 170 pounds, but they're very quick and we've been able to use their speed to our advantage," Kloepfer said.

"And Seth Knoll and Josh Bushong give us a pretty nice combination at running back."

The offensive line has opened some big holes for Knoll and Bushong in recent weeks.

Knoll is coming off a huge game in last week's 28-0 win over Crestline. He ran for 294 yards and three touchdowns and has 518 yards and four scores on the year.

Bushong, meanwhile, has picked up 333 yards and scored six touchdowns after missing the opener because of an injury.

While Knoll and Bushong give the Falcons a solid 1-2 offensive punch, the defense will have to step up against a potent Galion offense that's averaging nearly 45 points per game since a 14-7 loss to Mansfield Senior in the season opener.

Stopping Galion's Darean Watkins and David Nay, both of whom will likely be NCAA Division I recruits, will be a challenge.

Watkins has 212 yards rushing with nine touchdowns and has caught seven passes for a 24.0-yard average per reception. Nay, meanwhile, has racked up 937 yards rushing and has 13 scores.

Riverdale's defense has gotten better every week and Kloepfer is hoping that trend continues through Week 9 when the Falcons will travel to Colonel Crawford, in a game that could determine the NCC Silver Division champion.

"I just want to see our defense continue to grow and get better," Kloepfer said. "They can keep us in games. The way they are playing, they give us a chance to win each week."

Baker, 419-427-8409

jamiebaker@thecourier.com


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