Sep 30, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterFrom the first play to the last, in front of an over-capacity homecoming crowd at Wolverine Field, the Riverton football Wolverines dominated every aspect of Friday's game against the Buffalo Bison and cruised to a 34-14 win.
Now the Wolverines, with a game on the road next week at Torrington, will have the challenge of keeping focus. Torrington lost 27-17 Friday to Rawlins, snapping a 35-game losing streak for the Outlaws.
Should Riverton beat Torrington, looming in two weeks is the biggest game in head coach Jeremy McCormick's five-year tenure, a Friday Oct. 12 showdown at Douglas, probably for the Class 3-A East conference title.
It will be hard not to look ahead.
"We did really well. All week we talked about that we have to slay this giant, Buffalo. All along one of our goals has been to host a home playoff game, and this is the next rung in the ladder. The kids wanted to have a big, decisive win," McCormick said.
With all of the distractions that coaches fear a Homecoming week brings, the Wolverines were focused and on their game from the opening kickoff against the Bison.
Junior Logan Hartbank, who ended the game with an astonishing 320 all-purpose yards, gave Riverton great field position when he found a solid Wolverine kick-return wall and took the opening kickoff into Bison territory.
It was a precursor of things to come from Hartbank, who has turned into one of the premier Class 3-A punt and kick returners.
On their first series, the Wolverines then mounted a 12-play drive, but came up empty on downs at the Buffalo 6.
The Bison, who had averaged 200-yards rushing coming into the game but ran for only 92 yards Friday, found out two things on their first possession. They weren't going to run outside against Jeremy Vincent and Jordan Belville, Riverton's defensive ends who each had a tackle on Buffalo's first three-and-out, and they weren't going to run inside much either against Riverton's big interior, including Lane Savage, Wyatt Meyer and Dawson Steeds and inside linebackers Dylan Lewis and T.J. Galey.
"Our defense really came on this week. We really swarmed to the ball. We had pressure and coverage, and it was good to see our defense really gel," McCormick said.
After Buffalo's punt, Riverton got on the board first. Senior quarterback Xavier Webb found Hartbank for a 14-yard gain, then took it in himself from six yards out. With 3:26 left in the first quarter, Dietrik Becker added the point after touchdown, and Riverton was in front 7-0.
Buffalo then had its best offensive drive of the night, primarily relying on a short passing game that tried to match up running backs against Riverton's linebackers. Bison quarterback Dylon Marton found Casey Sellers for a 40-yard touchdown pass and with nine seconds left in the quarter, the score was tied at 7-7.
The tie score lasted nine seconds.
Hartbank took the ensuing kickoff and streaked up the middle before breaking to his right and finding open field. With sophomore Anthony Condie leading the way, Hartbank sprinted into the end zone to cap off
an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that electrified the crowd and shifted momentum to the Wolverines.
"I had great blocking by my teammates. We've been working on that all week, I was just looking for holes. I've been returning kicks since the RJFL. You break that one, and you're free. It's a great feeling," Hartbank said.
On Buffalo's next possession, Wolverine cornerback Ian McMenamy broke up a pass intended for the Bison's best offensive threat, running back Aaron Fenner, and Fenner had to punt again, one of his six punts on the night. By contrast, the Wolverines did not punt Friday.
Riverton did not let up, and with the confident Webb having his way with Buffalo's secondary, Kade Salisbury and Hartbank each caught big passes.
T.J. Galey ran hard to the 1-yard line, and Webb plunged into the end zone for his second score.
Becker's low PAT kick was blocked, and Riverton was up 20-7.
The Wolverine defense held Buffalo again, and Hartbank took Fenner's punt on the bounce, found another solid Wolverine return wall, and zipped 53 yards to the Bison 21. After Webb was the victim of a facemask penalty, Galey took Webb's handoff and, untouched, found the
end zone from three yards out to give Riverton a commanding 27-7 lead with 5:39 still left in the second quarter.
Just say no
If there was one series that characterized Riverton's defensive effort on Friday, it came on the next possession as Buffalo struggled to get back in the game. On second and eight at Riverton's 45-yard line, Marton handed the ball to Tyler Rogers, who tried to get outside of the right side of Riverton's defense but was met by Vincent, Meyer, Lewis, Galey and Bellville and blasted for a two-yard loss. Lewis dropped Rogers again on the next play for a three-yard loss.
Riverton took a 27-7 halftime lead into the locker room.
The Wolverines scored their final touchdown in the fourth quarter when Galey capped a 16-play, 80-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
Buffalo scored against the Riverton reserves late and was driving again when Hartbank intercepted a Marton pass and nearly broke it for a touchdown as time expired.
Riverton's game next Friday is set for a 6 p.m. start in Torrington.
Notes: Although Riverton and Buffalo played several times in the mid-20th century, they teams didn't resume matching up regularly until 2009. Friday's win over Buffalo was Riverton's first since 1944.
Riverton's no-huddle offense isn't always used for an up-tempo affect, according to offensive coordinator Beau Sheets. "It's just easier," he said.
Riverton did spawn 67 offensive plays in the no-huddle format, close to the coaches' 80 play-per-game goal. Coaches call three-digit numbers from the sidelines, and reserves reinforce the spoken signals with flashcards from the sidelines. Once the players get the number, they check printed forearm bands to confirm the play.
Buffalo 7 0 0 7 -- 34
Riverton 14 13 0 7-- 14
Riverton -- 3:26, Xavier Webb 6-yard run, Dietrik Becker kick, 7-0
Buffalo -- 0:09, Dylon Marton 40-yard pass to Casey Sellers, Engles kick, 7-7
Riverton -- 0:00, Logan Hartbank, 85-yard kick return, Dietrik Becker kick, 14-7
Riverton -- 8:52, Xavier Webb 1-yard run, kick failed, 20-7
Riverton -- 5:39, T.J. Galey, 3-yard run, Dietrik Becker kick, 27-7
Riverton -- 4:20, T.J. Galey, 2-yard run, Dietrik Becker kick, 34-7
Buffalo -- 2:03, Dylon Marton, 7-yard run, Engles kick 34-14
Riverton -- T.J. Galey 23-91, Xavier Webb 9-59, Dylan Lewis 4-22, Tristan White 4-0.
Buffalo -- Rogers 13-59, Sellers 2-13, Fenner 7-12, Marton 5-8.
Riv -- Xavier Webb 18-24-0 202; Anthony Condie 0-1-0 0. Buf -- 13-23-1 182.
Riverton -- Kade Salisbury 7-90, Logan Hartbank 7-47, Jordan Belville 2-28, Brandon Fullerton 1-29, T.J. Galey 1-8.
Buffalo -- Sellers 3-85, Fenner 4-61, Rogers 2-16, Filbert 2-10, Ostrom 1-9, Jensen 1-1.
Riverton -- Dylan Lewis 16, Jeremy Vincent 13, T.J. Galey 12, Logan Hartbank 9, Jordan Belville 7.5, Xavier Webb 6.5, Dawson Steeds 6, Lane Savage 5.5, Brandon Fullerton 5, Ian McMenamy 4, Wyatt Meyer
4, Anthony Condie 3, Tristan White 2, William Herbst 2, Caleb Richmond 2, J.P. Baxter 1.5, Joel Salazar 1, Keith Sack 1.
Buffalo -- Musselmon 21, Filbert 17.5, Fenner 12.5, Sellers 12.5, Jackson 11, Monroe 10, Jensen 7, Rogers 4, Morton 3, Sellers 2, Bauer 2, Leibee 2, Leibre 1.
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