RAPID RIVER - The Rapid River Rockets hit the turf Friday night against Ewen-Trout Creek for the first time since their appearance in the MHSAA 8-man championship game.
Before Friday's game, there was a bit of tension in the air, with both teams beginning a new season with a clean slate and coming in ready make a statement.
Before the game, Rapid River coach Steve Ostrenga delivered his speech to his squad.
Holly Richer | Daily Press
Rapid River’s Jake Pearson intercepts a pass intended for Ewen-Trout Creek’s Andy Meverden Friday during the second quarter at Rapid River. Riley Pajnich of Rapid River also defends.
Holly Richer | Daily Press
The ball flies out of Ewen-Trout Creek’s Andy Meverden’s hands as he is tackled by Rapid River’s Pat Pryal during the second quarter Friday. Rapid River’s Riley Pajnich looks on.
"You guys can match up with anyone," he said. "If you make a mistake (out there), don't drop your head. Look up."
Ostrenga added that a lot of questions would be answered going into this game. They added some new players, and he was eager to see how the new guys would perform under pressure.
Ewen-Trout Creek coach Larry Maki said he felt good going into the first game.
"We pretty much have last year's team back," Maki said. "We've improved throught the year last year, and we've got a couple of extra players, and we're looking for good things. But Rapid River has that winning attitude."
The event turned into a somewhat lopsided contest, as the Rockets rolled over the Panthers 52-0. As it turns out, Rapid River didn't make too many mistakes.
Rapid River put up 22 points in the first quarter, including a 21-yard touchdown reception by Eli Orth and two rushing touchdowns by quarterback Jake Pearson; one for 34 yards and the other, a one yard rush.
The Rockets were able to match their point total in the second quarter, putting up another 22 points. Orth and Pearson rushed for two more touchdowns, and a pass on a two point conversion to Robert Metter made it 36-0.
Pearson went back to Metter later in the 2nd quarter, scoring on a 44 yard reception and adding the two point conversion to make it 44-0.
The third quarter was a defensive battle, with neither team able to score. However, just when Ewen's defense looked like they had figured out Rapid River, Orth broke through the middle to take off 90 yards to the endzone. following the points after, the score was 52-0, and it would stay that way until the end.
Pearson finished with 12 carries for 152 yards. Orth had 8 carries for 155 yards, and Pat Pryal had 7 carries for 30 yards, for a total of 365 yards on 34 carries. Pearson was 5 of 9 passing for 91 yards and 1 touchdown.
On defense, Steve Johnson led the Rockets with 12 tackles, followed by Robert Metter with 10. Lucas Bero and Geno Constantino both had nine tackles.
Pearson covered all the bases, even coming away with an interception on defense, which he returned to the 2 yard line to set his team up for a score. However, even with the way they played, he sees room for improvement.
"It was good to get the first win," he said. "That's all that matters right now. But we still have to play hard every game. We always have stuff to work on."
After the game, coach Ostrenga praised his coaching staff.
"What can I say. They picked up every bit of slack," Ostrenga said. "All those eyes on the field catching things we do wrong, it was huge. You saw a lot of things we did well today, and we also have some things we have to work on."
Rapid River continues their season Thursday against Posen.