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2009 Season Press Coverage Pt 1

July 15, 2010
Richmond Burton High School


Dan Truttschel
Sports Correspondent
The Richmond Spring Grove Report Oct 14, 2009--Richmond-Burton's backfield literally hit the ground running from get-go, and never looked back with a towering 355 yard performance, in crunching Burlington Central 48-14.

Rushers Chad O'Kane and Justin Russell also showed versatility by catching touch-down passes from Adam Pittser for 54 and 46 yards re-spectively, during the second quarter.

The Oct. 2 Big Northern Conference East Division match-up on BC's home field was a Rockets showcase with three first quarter TD's, with O'Kane running half the length of the field for a 47-yard score, within two minutes of the opening whistle. BC's Tre Lianes (21 carries for 124 yards, 2 TD's) capped a time-burning drive by diving over from the two-yard line, at the six-minute mark.

R-B (5-1 Overall, 2-0 BNC EAST) let Russell loose to score the first of his four TD's of the night, marching right back for a 15-yarder. BC (2-4, 1-1) was at a loss to stop Rus-sell (10 rushes, 70 yards), who bounced into the end zone from 28 yards out, giving the Rockets a 21-7 first quarter lead.

BC's offense was stifled, as quarterback Jacob Maraoder was consistently surrounded by RB linemen. Rockets' quarterback Pittser (3 completions, 5 attempts, 107 yards, 2 TD's) aired out the ball in the second quarter, with two TD passes, and mixed up the ground game with Kenneth Riordan (15 carries, 81 yards) chugging through the BC defense for set-up gains.

The halftime score, with RB on top 34-7, left BC with little room to pick up steam. Lianes scored on a 29-yard broken play, dodging several Rockets linebackers to take it in.

RB's Russell scored early in the final frame, going five yards through the center, following an offensive drive that hard-charged for gains on each play. RB's Kyle Wismer caught a 7-yard pass, and at the two-minute mark, Joshua Banwart rumbled 88 yards for a TD, on his only rush of the night.

RB generated 462 yards in total offense, while holding Burlington to a total of 162 yards. RB kicker Kevin Klingenberg connected for 6-7 PAT conversion tries.

The Rockets play their homecoming game at the Richmond Athletic complex Oct. 9 against the rival BNC East Harvard Hornets (5-1, 2-0). The Hornets dumped the Hampshire Whip-Purs 33-20 last week, and the Marengo Indians 49-14 during their Sept. 25 contest. RB held up Harvard for an 8-0 victory Oct. 10 last year, during their consecutive victory streak into the post-season playoffs.


BC Rockets Stadium

NWHerald Oct 9, 2009--BNC East Division: About the Rockets: RB is 2nd among area teams in offensive production @ 371.2 yds a game.  RBs Chad O'Kane (627), Kenny Riordan (565) & Justin Russell (465) give the Rockets great balance.  The Rockets are ranked #6 in the Associated Press Class 4A poll.

Lester Johnson's pick:  RB 21, Harvard 14 


By JOE STEVENSON - jstevenson@nwherald.com
NWHerald Oct 9, 2009--As far as the Big Northern Conference East Division is concerned, this is it. Harvard (5-1 overall, 2-0 BNC East) visits Richmond-Burton (5-1, 2-0) at 7 p.m. today in a football game that should determine the division champion, given that these two easily have been the BNC East's best two teams.

Harvard coach Tim Haak couldn't remember a Harvard vs. R-B game where both teams had comparable records so late in a season. It reminds him a little of some of the Hornets' former battles with R-B when former Rockets coach J. Randy Hofman was at the helm.

"We understand the talent level they have," Haak said. "But our kids have worked hard for this opportunity. That's the thing, with all their preparation, now they have this chance."

R-B is ranked No. 6 in The Associated Press' Class 4A poll, while Harvard is receiving votes. Both teams have a great deal of respect for each other. Rockets coach Pat Elder had Harvard on his radar before the first day of fall practice.

"Coach Haak has an unbelievable talent for managing a football game, which is an underappreciated skill," Elder said. "People talked about the favorites in the [division] as us and Harvard. Whoever wins this, controls their own destiny, and that's all you want."

R-B returned most of its starters from a Class 4A semifinal team last season, and has been ranked most of the season. The Rockets' loss came in Week 3 to Stillman Valley, 25-7.

Harvard has won five consecutive games after a season-opening 48-7 setback against Big Foot, Wis.

"They're a good team and they've been on a roll," R-B fullback Kenny Riordan said. "They run a lot so we'll have to shut them down inside. We just need to do our assignments on defense.

Last week [a 48-14 win against Burlington Central] was our best defensive game. Everyone did what they had to do and we played as a unit."

R-B is racking up 371.2 yards a game with backs Chad O'Kane (627), Riordan (565) and Justin Russell (465), all of whom are among the area's top 10 rushers. Harvard's Vince Gabrys (912) leads the area in rushing, and Andrew Kick (412) is 10th on the list.

"It's going to be a good opportunity to see how we react and see what happens," said Gabrys, who has rushed for 458 yards and nine touchdowns in the last two games. "Basically, our line is firing off the ball and doing their job. Our team chemistry is flowing right now."

R-B hasn't won a division title since 1996, when the Rockets won the BNC White. Harvard last won the BNC East in 2007.

"This is what we've worked all summer for," Harvard quarterback Zach Fiegel said. "It's definitely a big game. They stand in the way of one of our goals, we're ready to go."

Players on both teams insist they have maintained focus on the game before them. And both teams appear to have improved almost weekly since taking a tough loss early.

"We've been consistent," Elder said. "We've been patient on offense and put ourselves in good situations. We feel we've gotten better each week."

NWHerald Oct 3, 2009--RB @ Burlington Central--About RB:  RB has 3 running backs among the area's top nine in rushing yds--Kenny Riordan (514 yds), Chad O'Kane (510) & Justin Russell (395).  The Rockets are ranked #9 in the Assoc. Press Call 4A poll. 

About Burlington:  Central defeated N Boone, 20-12 last week in its BNC E opener. 

Lester Johnson's pick:  RB 34, Burlington Central 7  (

By GEORGE G. VEUGELER - editorial@nwherald.com
NWHerald Sept 26, 2009--HAMPSHIRE - Richmond-Burton's three-headed running attack was able to subdue Hampshire on Friday, running away with 352 yards en route to a 37-14 Big Northern Conference East Division football victory.

After the first quarter ended with R-B leading, 14-6, it appeared the Whip-Purs would keep the contest close.

However, the Rockets (4-1 overall, 1-0 BNC East) scored early in the second on an Adam Pittser quarterback keeper from 2 yards out. They held the ball most of the second quarter, took a 24-6 halftime lead, and didn't look back.

"We were really able to pick up the blitz tonight," Rockets senior offensive tackle Tyler Olker said. "Our line was able to handle our blocks well."

The offense looked good early for the Whips (1-4, 0-1), despite a blocked punt on their first possession. They marched 71 yards down the field, converting five first downs and capping it off with a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter by senior running back Ron Laramie. Unfortunately for Hampshire, it was its only sustained drive of the game.

Rockets senior running back Chad O'Kane led the way with 140 yards on the ground on nine carries and a pair of touchdowns, including a 77-yard scamper midway through the third.

The Rockets have been a force to be reckoned with this season, and Friday night's weather could have been seen as a nuisance. But it didn't faze the Rockets.

"We're linemen!" Rockets senior offensive tackle Bradley Jacobs said. "It doesn't matter what the weather is like, we have to do our job. The backs held onto the ball, and we did well."

Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh found some positives out of the loss.

"Richmond is a great team," Cavanaugh said. "But we seemed to move the ball better than we have been, we were still physical all game. Our guys won't roll over."

That was certainly the case when Laramie captured the Whips' highlight of the night. On a third-and-short at the end of the third quarter, Laramie found a hole on a cutback and broke off a 55-yard touchdown scamper.

"The line was able to make a hole," Laramie said. "I was able to find it and break it."

The Rockets will travel to Burlington Central next week, and the Whips will head to Harvard

NWHerald Sept 25, 2009--RB (3-1) @ Hampshire (1-3):  About the Rockets: RB has 3 running backs among the top 8 area rushers-Kenny Riorday (443 yds), Chad O'Kane (370) & Justin Russell (330).  The Rockets are No. 10 in the Assoc. Press Class 4A poll.  (NWHerald Sep 25, '09)

By ANDREW HANSEN - ahansen@nwherald.com
NWHerald Sept 19, 2009--WINNEBAGO -  Richmond-Burton's Chad O'Kane thought he had broken free for a touchdown.

The Rockets' senior running back broke off a run on the left side of the Richmond 28-yard line with less than 30 seconds left in the half, attempting to answer a Winnebago touchdown.

Indians defenders ultimately caught up with O'Kane at the Indians' 10-yard line, but the damage already was done. The run stopped Winnebago's momentum and led Richmond-Burton to a 35-16 win Friday night in a Big Northern Conference crossover matchup.

"The [defender] was a little far behind to cut back. I wasn't sure what to do," O'Kane said of his run. "But we came out in the second half and put it to them."

O'Kane's 102 rushing yards on seven carries were part of a Rockets rushing attack that racked up 400 total yards on 40 carries. Running backs Kenneth Riordan (15 rushes, 144 yards, two touchdowns) and Justin Russell (11 rushes, 137 yards, one touchdown) combined with O'Kane to form a three-headed rushing attack.

"It's tough; it's pick your poison," Winnebago coach Mark Helm said of R-B's three backs. "You try and stop one thing, then they hit you with something else."

The Indians scored first on a Marcus Posley's 28-yard field goal with 8:28 left in the first quarter. 

The Rockets answered on their next possesion, a six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive capped by O'Kane's 16-yard touchdown run with 5:50 left in the first that made it 7-3.

NWHerald Sept 18, 2009--About the Rockets: RB lost to Stillman Valley, 25-7, & fell from the Class 4A rankings.  The Rockets have 2 players with 200 rushing yeard - Kenny Riordan (299) & Chad O'Kane (268)--and another almost @ 200 -Justin Russell (193) 

By JOE STEVENSON - jstevenson@nwherald.com
Sept 12, 2009--RICHMOND - Someday, Richmond-Burton might actually feel gratitude toward Stillman Valley for a humbling defeat.

The Cardinals dominated R-B in ways the Rockets didn't consider possible, so any appreciation Friday night was dulled by the sting of a 25-7 loss at the R-B Athletic Complex.

In a Big Northern Conference crossover matchup of state-ranked teams, Stillman Valley was superior in every way, controlling both lines of scrimmage and shutting out what had been the Northwest Herald area's most potent offense. Last season, Stillman Valley beat the Rockets, 20-0, but three weeks later R-B started a seven-game winning streak that ended in the Class 4A playoff semifinals.

R-B (2-1) was averaging 396 yards a game, but managed only 162 yards against the Cardinals. The Rockets' lone touchdown came on defensive tackle Chris Friedle's 26-yard fumble return in the first quarter.

"We didn't play our best, that's pretty much what it comes down to," R-B fullback Kenny Riordan said. "We didn't play our best in the backfield, we didn't play our best up front, and we didn't play our best on defense."

R-B was ranked No. 5 in The Associated Press Class 4A poll this week; Stillman Valley (3-0) was No. 4 in Class 3A.

"They were able to control the line when we had the ball," Rockets coach Pat Elder said. "I didn't think we played terrible on defense, but we didn't have a chance to get field position when we had the ball because of turnovers."

Stillman Valley led, 12-7, at halftime and R-B generated better offense in the second half, although the Rockets could never get past the Cardinals' 42-yard line in the game. Twice in the fourth quarter, facing an 18-7 deficit, R-B moved into Stillman Valley territory and committed turnovers. The Cardinals' Brandon Watts picked off Adam Pittser's pass, then defensive back Brandon Schwengels picked up Riordan's fumble and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown that sealed the outcome.

"We came in really, really, really fired up and hungry to win this game," said the Cardinals' Trevor Svartoien, a two-way starter on the line. "Our defensive line just stuck to our guys and shut down when their guards pulled on the trap plays."

Stillman Valley fullback Adam Cox broke a 63-yard run on his first carry of the second half to set up the Cardinals' third touchdown.

"I never would have thought we would basically shut their offense out," Stillman Valley coach Mike Lalor said. "We got some negative plays on first downs and they were fighting second- and third-and-longs all night. There were not many mental mistakes, we got people where they needed to be and we tackled well."

Most of R-B's starters returned from last year's semifinal team, so the Rockets' expectations are extremely high.

"It's just going to make us stronger, hopefully to win our side of the conference and make it into November," R-B tight end-defensive end Kyle Wismer said. "We can learn from it, because we'll probably play teams like this in the playoffs."

NWHerald Sept 11, 2009--Stillman Valley (2-0) at Richmond-Burton (2-0)

About the Cardinals: Stillman Valley is ranked No. 4 in The Associated Press Class 3A poll after beating Spring Valley Hall, 42-0, and St. Joseph-Ogden, 42-27.

About the Rockets: R-B leads the area in offense with 396 yards a game. The Rockets' Kenny Riordan (245) and Chad O'Kane (243) are second and third in area rushing yards.

Lester Johnson's pick: Richmond-Burton 17, Stillman Valley 14

By JOE STEVENSON - jstevenson@nwherald.com
NWHerald Sept 11, 2009--RICHMOND - Richmond-Burton's offensive linemen look at the area football statistics with a great sense of pride.

They see running backs Kenny Riordan and Chad O'Kane at Nos. 2 and 3, and Justin Russell at No. 10.

They see the Rockets averaging an area-best 396 yards a game and think, "Hey, that's us!" And they're correct.

R-B (2-0) is ranked No. 5 in The Associated Press Class 4A poll because it has key players returning at the critical skill positions. But the Rockets also are there because they are fortunate enough to have 80 percent of their starting interior line from last year's Class 4A state semifinal team back as well.

The Rockets should get their toughest test of the season so far at 7 p.m. today when they host Stillman Valley (2-0) at the R-B Athletic Complex.

The Cardinals are No. 4 in Class 3A after defeating Spring Valley Hall (42-0) and St. Joseph-Ogden (42-27).

"We've played great so far," center Josh Rymarz said. "We all have to get lower at times. I'm not trying to sound arrogant, but I think we've played magnificently."

That's tough to argue with Riordan (245 rushing yards), O'Kane (243) and Russell (148) all among the area leaders. One reason Rockets coach Pat Elder thought his team started slow last season - R-B was 1-4 before reeling off seven consecutive victories to reach the semifinals - was they were replacing three starters on the offensive line.

Rymarz, left tackle Tyler Olker, right guard Chris Friedle and right tackle Brad Jacobs all return, with left guard Sam White stepping in for graduated Jake Behrens.

"There's always room for improvement, but we've been pretty good," Olker said. "We're pretty united up front. [The area leaders] is something we're proud of because that shows the job we're doing up front."

Familiarity on a line is so vital because each player knows what the next one is doing.

"We've worked really well because we've played with each other so many years," Rymarz said. "We're used to each other."

R-B caught the first half of Stillman Valley's game last week before traveling to Normal for a Saturday game against Bethalto Civic Memorial. The Rockets know this could be their toughest foe until the postseason.

"I was very impressed," Rymarz said. "They're fast, big and physical up front. They're similar to us in that they'll run the ball at you a lot, then try to catch you off-guard with the pass."

Olker (6-foot-2, 290 pounds) is the biggest of the bunch, with Jacobs (6-5, 230), a Northwest Herald All-Area second team selection, next. Rymarz (6-1, 220), Friedle (6-2, 195) and White (5-9, 180) are big enough to accomplish what the Rockets need.

"We don't have bad size up front, but the key, particularly in high school football, is moving your feet," Elder said. "They all do a pretty good job there. You can really see with Josh and Tyler their movement is a lot better this year."

Elder likes the cohesiveness and communication among the linemates.

"They've established a language without speaking," Elder said. "It's early, but we have everybody on the same page."

By JOE STEVENSON - jstevenson@nwherald.com
NWHerald Sept 7, 2009--As tough as it might be to believe, one-third of the high school football regular season will be completed Friday.So what has the first two weeks of the season revealed about local teams?

As expected, Cary-Grove, Richmond-Burton and Crystal Lake South have been very good. All three were ranked to start the season and all appear worthy of their top-10 spots.

Some other teams are emerging as legitimate playoff contenders, while it's still too early to tell on others.

Here are a few observations after two weeks.

R-B's road trip: Richmond-Burton's football players got a first-hand look at next week's opponent, hung out and bonded on a road trip, then played on a college's artificial turf.

All in all, it was a great weekend for the Rockets, who whipped Bethalto Civic Memorial, 37-14, Saturday at Illinois State University's Hancock Stadium.

R-B rolled up almost 477 yards of offense to defeat the Eagles, with Chad O'Kane and Kenny Riordan each topping 100 yards rushing.

"We won, so our kids had a good experience," Rockets coach Pat Elder said. "We watched [this Friday's opponent] Stillman Valley last night for three quarters, got back on the bus and got [to Bloomington-Normal] in time to go to sleep. We got up Saturday morning and had a walk-through and got ready to go. The people at Illinois State were great."

Elder said the trip came about when Civic Memorial called last year looking for a game. Both schools had an open date on Week 2, so they agreed to meet at a point about halfway between and ISU officials agreed to let them use the field.

R-B (2-0) was ranked No. 5 in The Associated Press Class 4A poll last week and has outscored its opponents, 72-21, in two games.

By TONY ANDRACKI - editorial@nwherald.com
NWHerald Sept 6, 2009--NORMAL - Richmond-Burton's players raised their helmets in tribute as the national anthem ended before their game Saturday afternoon.Forty-eight minutes of football later, the Rockets held their helmets high again, this time in triumph after they used 422 rushing yards to propel them to a 37-14 victory against Bethalto Civic Memorial at Illinois State University's Hancock Stadium.

The game was played about halfway between the two schools.

"We played well," R-B coach Pat Elder said. "We were able to move the ball between the tackles, which opens a lot of things up for us. I was really happy with that.

"It was a different week and a different trip, and I thought our kids were prepared. They did a nice job."

Ten players combined to carry the ball 55 times for R-B (2-0), which held Civic Memorial (0-2) to 79 yards on the ground.

Although R-B spread the ball around, the running game was more of a three-pronged attack with seniors Justin Russell, Chad O'Kane and Ken Riordan leading the way. O'Kane ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns, Riordan ran for 119 yards and a score and Russell churned out 83 rushing yards and a touchdown.

"All three of them are effective running the football, but all three of them will be the first ones to tell you that the guys up front pave the way for them," Elder said. "For the second week in a row, I thought we played really well up front, and our backs ran the ball hard."

The Rockets opened the scoring on the first drive of the game behind Riordan's 3-yard touchdown run.

R-B added an O'Kane 50-yard touchdown rush, a 7-yard Russell touchdown run and a 32-yard Kevin Klingenberg field goal to go up, 23-0, at halftime.

Rockets quarterback Adam Pittser hit Kyle Wismer on a 35-yard touchdown strike on R-B's first drive of the second half, and O'Kane found paydirt again on the first play of the fourth quarter with a 9-yard sprint.

The Eagles pushed across two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, one of which was set up by an R-B turnover.

R-B didn't allow a first down until the 5:47 mark in the second quarter and kept the Eagles' offense at bay, allowing 276 total yards.

"[The defense] did a very good job," Elder said. "I thought we tackled well, which is the key to what we were trying to do

NWHerald Sep 11, 09--Stillman Valley at Richmond-Burton,

Stillman Valley (2-0)

On offense: RBs Nate Bond, Brandon Schwengels and Adam Cox have combined for 513 rushing yards for the Cardinals. They have faced Spring Valley Hall and St. Joseph-Ogden and are averaging 41 points a game. Speed might be one advantage the Cardinals have over the Rockets, and they also have a good offensive line.

On defense: The Cardinals were the only team to shut out the Rockets last season, in a 21-0 home win in Week 3. They held the Rockets to 72 yards in that game. They will face a much more confident R-B team this season. They first must stop the Rockets' running game and force them to pass, taking them out of their comfort zone.

Richmond-Burton (2-0)

On offense: The Rockets have run the ball for 716 yards and nine TDs in the first two games this season against Oregon and Bethalto Civic Memorial. RBs Kenny Riordan, Justin Russell and Chad O'Kane each average at least 7 yards a carry. QB Adam Pittser might have to throw some to loosen up the defense. The key will be the offensive line against a physical Cardinals defense.

On defense: The Rockets' defense has allowed three TDs this season, one to Oregon and two late scores to Civic Memorial. R-B will have to be solid up front to stop the Cardinals' running game. Sure tackling without over-pursuing are key against a speedy Cardinals offense. The defense has to improve on the 358 offensive yards they gave up to Stillman Valley last season.

Lester Johnson's pick

The Rockets have to be thinking revenge for last season's 21-0 loss to the Cardinals. Stillman Valley has won eight of the past 10 meetings against R-B. The Rockets are No. 5 in The Associated Press Class 4A state rankings, and Stillman is No. 4 in Class 3A.

Final score: Richmond-Burton 17, Stillman Valley 14

NW Herald August 29, 2009--OREGON - Richmond-Burton's Kenny Riordan and Justin Russell both rushed for more than 100 yards as the Rockets rolled to a 35-7 season-opening football victory against Oregon a Friday at Landers-Loomis Field.

"We've got a lot of youngsters back, and this was our first opportunity to find out what we really have," R-B head coach Pat Elder said.

The Rockets, ranked No. 5 in The Associated Press Class 4A poll, ran for 294 yards with Riordan, Russell and Chad O'Kane leading the way. Russell and O'Kane each scored twice, and Riordan had the other touchdown in the Big Northern Conference crossover win for the Rockets (1-0). 

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