Preseason football: River Ridge 26, Sunlake 7

After an early blip, it’s all Knights on the ground, through the air and on defense.
High school football teams around Tampa Bay participated in kickoff classics Friday night. Well, at least the ones who waited out the weather did. (Times file)
High school football teams around Tampa Bay participated in kickoff classics Friday night. Well, at least the ones who waited out the weather did. (Times file)
Published August 17

LAND O’LAKES — River Ridge scored 26 unanswered points after giving up an early 57-yard touchdown run by Sunlake quarterback Kevin Spillane, cruising to a 26-7 preseason victory Friday night.

With the inclement weather considered, the Knights offense was able to keep the ball moving well on the ground and in the air. While he only played in the first half, senior running back Anthony Roussos, a Columbia commit, ran for 55 yards and two touchdowns and was the biggest catalyst to River Ridge’s 20-7 lead at halftime.

After leading the team in rushing last year, Roussos will look to continue to succeed in an even bigger role this season.

MORE PREP FOOTBALL: Preseason: Clearwater Central Catholic 28, Wiregrass Ranch 7

The Knights finished with 185 passing yards in the victory, split pretty evenly between sophomores Trenton Hawks (who played the first three quarters) and Ethan Rice (who saw action in the fourth). The majority of those yards came on throws to senior wide receiver Quinton Stedman, who finished with eight catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns, including a 66-yard throw down the seam from Rice to seal the victory in the fourth quarter.

“We came out (in practice) this week with a mindset to come out and play with great passion and play with a lot of emotion and effort. That’s what we wanted to see (tonight) … and that’s what they did,” River Ridge coach Ryan Benjamin said.

On the other sideline, Sunlake’s second coach in school history, Trey Burdick, made his debut after Bill Browning retired at the end of last season. While the final result wasn’t what he would have liked, he said that his coaching philosophy is that you can learn more from mistakes than successes, and considering that many other teams were rained out on Friday night, he liked being able to have his players get in game reps.

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