NEW PORT RICHEY — River Ridge's vaunted rushing attack, lead by Chris Schwarz, was stonewalled by Class 7A powerhouse Bradenton Braden River. The Pirates held Schwarz and company to 61 total yards in the first half.
Key drives: It took Braden River no more than a minute to find the end zone when Raymond Thomas sprinted past the Royal Knights defense on a 66-yard score. River Ridge caught a break in third quarter when Sean White recovered a Braden River fumble as the Pirates threatened to extend the lead. River Ridge finally scored on offense thanks to a seven-play drive capped by a 39-yard run by Schwarz with 4:40 left in the third quarter.
Stars of the game: Schwarz finished with 156 rushing yards, 122 in the second half. Mikey Roussos gave the Royal Knights life to open the second half thanks to a spectacular 95-yard kickoff return to paydirt.
Stats of the game: River Ridge quarterback Trevor Hawks was 2-for-4 for 49 yards passing and had 27 yards rushing. Linebacker Brandon Lempfert recorded two tackles for loss to go along with a sack.
Final word: "When you're coming out against a team like Braden River, those guys are the real deal. Offensively, defensively, special teams, that's a special team; they're going to do big things this year. I think we came out a little bit on our heels facing a team of that caliber. It took us a while to get our feet underneath us." — Ryan Benjamin, River Ridge coach
Alejandro Tamayo, Times Correspondent