EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Riley Christensen, Sr., QB/LB, Belmont football
BELMONT – The season itself may have gotten off to delayed start, however the Belmont Braves football team started off fast in their 2020 opener.
The Braves scored two touchdowns in their first three offensive plays to build up a 16–0 lead just four minutes into the game, and then kept piling it on from there en route to a 45–14 victory over Saint Mary’s Catholic in an 8-player prep football game held at Belmont High School.
Senior quarterback Riley Christensen threw for 123 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 131 yards and another three scored to carry the Braves (1–0) past the Zephyrs (0–1).
Zephyrs’ head coach Jeremy Clifton took a huge gamble early on when he opted not to punt the ball away on 4th-and-9 from his own 32. Belmont senior Mitchell Douglas sacked Zephyrs’ QB Owen Swanstrom for a seven-yard loss on the play to hand the Braves the ball at the Zephyrs’ 25. Two plays later, Christensen teamed with junior Waylon Palzkill for a 20–yard TD strike to put the hosts ahead for good. Palzkill also punched in a two-point conversion run to make it 8–0.
After a quick three-and-out, the Braves got the ball right back at the Zephyrs’ 34 and needed just one play to find pay dirt again as Christensen ripped off a TD run on the first play from scrimmage. Junior John Burbach’s conversion run put the hosts up 16–0 with 7:59 remaining in the first quarter.
Christensen scored again from four yards out on a fourth-and-goal run with 3:39 to play in the half to extend the lead to 22–0 after John Burbach's interception set Belmont up deep in St. Mary Catholic territory.
Christensen hooking up with Palzkill on a 31-yard scoring strike with 18 seconds remaining. Palzkill’s conversion run put the Braves up 32–0 at the intermission.
He also connected with sophomore Noah Fritz on a 18-yard touchdown pass and he booted the extra point to make it 39-0 with 6:44 to go in the third quarter, and then he tacked on a seven-yard TD run on another fourth-down play with 35 ticks remaining in the stanza to cap the Braves’ scoring at 45–0. Christensen also finished with five tackles in the game.
“After our start, it took a little while to get going again, but we got where we needed to go in the second quarter and carried it into the second half," said Belmont head coach Brandon Wiese. "There are some things we’re still trying to implement in the offense, so we had to see how it would work out on the field. We also rotated a bunch of guys in there in different areas. There are some things we’ll do better next week.
“We have a good group of guys surrounding Riley. Our offensive line up front is tough. We feel confident with these guys running the offense."
Belmont’s Week 2 road game at Elkhart Lake–Glenbeulah (1-0) scheduled for Friday, Oct. 2, has been postponed due to a COVID-19 concern at BHS. Belmont schools were shut down for in-person classes Monday and all sporting events for this week have been postponed.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Morgan Cooley, Sr., Lancaster girls golf
Cooley shot a team-best 87, including a 3-over par 39 on the back nine at Prairie du Chien, to win medalist honors at last Wednesday's Southwest Wisconsin Conference girls' golf meet. Cooley's winning-round helped Lancaster (419) finished second as a team behind champion Wisconsin Dells (393) at the five-team tournament.
Braden Davis, Jr., QB, Darlington football
Davis completed 11 of 15 passes for 120 yards and a career-high four touchdowns to led the Redbirds to a season-opening 34–21 victory over visiting River Valley Friday night.
Logan Drone, Jr., QB, River Ridge football
Drone completed 4 of 10 passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 103 yards and two more scores in a 42–0 season-opening victory over visiting Iowa–Grant Friday night in the first game played at River Ridge's new football facility in Patch Grove.
Brayden Saint, Sr., RB, Prairie du Chien football
Saint rushed for 153 yards on 30 carries in the Blackhawks' 14–10 victory over visiting Platteville last Friday night.