Even without star tailback Joe Klebon in the line-up, Riverside still had its way with a scrappy, but outgunned Honesdale squad. The Vikings sprinted out to a 28-0 halftime lead, then cruised to an eventual 44-0 LFC win Friday night under the Maple City lights.
It didn’t take the Riverside Vikings long to convince local grid fans that they are every bit as good as their reputation suggests.
Coach Harry Armstrong led his team into Friday night’s LFC crossover game against Honesdale sporting an undefeated record and a #2 ranking in the latest Class AA state football poll.
On this particular night, the Vikes didn’t let anything slow them down en route to a 44-0 whitewashing of the Hornets: not the absence of star running back Joe Klebon, not the rain, not even a dense fog that reduced visibility to near-zero.
Riverside opened up a 28-0 halftime lead, then coasted the rest of the way.
There were bright spots for Honesdale. Jesus Rivero turned in an explosive debut as the Hornets’ kick returner and tailback. In addition, the Red & Black held Riverside to 151 rushing yards on 25 attempts.
Sadly for the Maple City faithful who braved wind, rain & fog, neither of these things was enough to stop Honesdale from suffering its second consecutive shutout. The Hornets have been outscored 77-0 in back-to-back Division One losses to Scranton and Riverside.
The road doesn’t get any easier for Coach John Marichak’s squad. Honesdale puts out the proverbial welcome mat for Delaware Valley this weekend. The Warriors (3-2, 1-0 Division One) are fresh off a 35-18 victory over North Pocono. Opening kick-off for this LFC battle is slated for 7:00 p.m. Friday night.
Back in Black
On the heels of a difficult-to-digest Week Four shutout, Honesdale was eager to take possession of the ball and fire up its offense. So, when the Hornets won the toss, they elected to receive and sent Jesus Rivero out to field the kick.
Rivero is just a sophomore and listed generously at 5’5”, 150 pounds. On Friday night, though, Jesus played much bigger than those numbers. He took the opening kick-off and nearly sprinted his way to paydirt. Only a desperate, diving tackle just inside the midfield stripe saved Riverside from a lightning-quick deficit.
Rivero also saw his first significant action at tailback and showed flashes of brilliance. Jesus would carry the ball 10 times for 50 yards, accounting for nearly half of his team’s total offensive output.
After Honesdale’s offense went three & out, the Vikings nearly committed another crucial special teams blunder. Matt Talerico muffed the punt and just barely recovered the ball inside his own 5-yardline before being swarmed under by the Red & Black coverage unit.
The two teams traded punts on the next several possessions before Riverside began to get its offense untracked.
Quarterback Jey Velehoski keyed the Vikings’ first touchdown drive with a perfectly-executed bootleg. The battle-tested senior signal caller faked a hand-off to Matt Talerico, then rolled around left end for a 37-yard gain.
Moments later, Velehoski broke the scoring ice with a pinpoint 15-yard TD pass to split end Ryan Chisdock. Talerico hauled in a two-point conversion pass and, with 2:50 left in the first quarter, Riverside had an 8-0 lead.
Beginning of the End
For a second time in as many attempts, Rivero gave Honesdale excellent field position with a kick-off return out to the 45-yardline. The Hornet offense couldn’t take advantage, though, and was forced to punt again.
Riverside took possession and rolled to another score.
This time, Talerico did the damage. Matt appeared to be stopped dead on an off-tackle play, but somehow broke free and raced 14 yards to the endzone. Talerico tacked on the two-point conversion, upping Riverside’s lead to 16-0.
Corey Talerico got into the act three plays later. Riverside’s free safety intercepted an Andrew Branning pass and returned it deep into Honesdale territory. Matt Talerico made the Hornets pay for this turnover, sprinting 23 yards for another TD with 6:17 left before halftime.
Corey Schuster upped Riverside’s advantage to 28-0 at intermission. The senior wingback hauled in a 10-yard toss from Velehoski with just 43 seconds remaining.
Score by Quarters...
HON 0 0 0 0 - 0
RIV 8 20 16 0 - 44